Wondering what to do at Disneyland outside of the Parks? Let me show you 17 things to do in Downtown Disney that don’t require a Park ticket. Scroll down for all the info!
This post on the best things to do in Downtown Disney was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Depending on how many days you are at Disneyland, you’ll probably find yourself with time you are not spending inside the Parks. Think about your arrival day, departure day, and any rest days you may have planned.
Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have downtown locations where you can shop and dine, until your heart’s content.
At Walt Disney World, it’s called Disney Springs and is located away from the Parks and you’ll need to drive or take a shuttle to get there.
At Disneyland, it’s just steps away from both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Plus, you can walk there from lots of Disney Good Neighbor Hotels, Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
There are places to shop, but also places to enjoy a bite to eat!
Whatever you’re wanting to do, you’re sure to find it in Downtown Disney on your non-park day.
Don’t have time to read a bunch of Disneyland blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Disneyland with kids.
Where to Stay at Disneyland
- Disney Grand Californian Hotel & Spa (it’s expensive but has a private entrance to Disney California Adventure)
- Howard Johnson Hotel & Water Playground (the water park is pretty fabulous)
- Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance (amazing water park and has bunk beds)
- Fairfield by Marriott Anaheim Resort (it’s so close to the park, and the rooms are awesome)
- Best Western Plus Anaheim Inn (this is my favorite Disneyland budget hotel)
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New Additions to Downtown Disney in 2023 and Beyond
Before I get going with my list of things to do in Downtown Disney, I figured I’d give you a heads up about what’s coming to the Downtown Disney District.
Porto’s Bakery & Café
This is an iconic Southern California destination known for its sweet pastries and desserts, as well as delicious California-Cuban-inspired dishes.
Din Tai Fung
This is a world-renowned, family-run Chinese restaurant specializing in soup dumplings.
Paseo and Céntrico
This is an eatery and courtyard bar offering upscale Mexican cuisine and tequila-based cocktails—a menu created by Michelin-starred Chef Carlos Gaytán. This is replacing Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar & Cafe.
Disneyland is also building an open lawn area where they will hold special events and activities.
Top 17 Things to do in Downtown Disney on Your Non-Park Day
1. World of Disney
When you’re in Downtown Disney on your non-park day, take the time to go to the World of Disney.
This is an interactive store that is overflowing with toys. You’ll also be able to find collectibles, Minnie ears, pins, plush toys, and apparel.
My kids (and husband) love going to this store because we can literally shop for hours!
This is a great store for kids to just have some downtime in too. They can explore, pick up toys, and just have hours of fun. I have found that it’s also family-friendly, which makes it a go for us!
When it comes to souvenirs for Disney, this is where we head.
2. Star Wars Trading Post
One of the coolest new shops at the Downtown Disney District is the Star Wars Trading Post. It’s deceivingly huge and worth a stop if you are a Star Wars fan.
Here, you’ll find all kinds of Star Wars clothing, pins, toys, and collectibles.
My husband and boys stopped here each night we rode the Monorail back from Disneyland because it’s located right next to the station.
3. Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
If you’d like dinner and a show, head to Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. They offer live jazz music every night, plus they have authentic New Orleans-style Creole food and a fantastic cocktail menu.
You can enjoy lunch or dinner here. They even have a nice kids menu with food your kids will actually eat.
They also have Jazz Kitchen Express, which offers a smaller menu. This is perfect for families with little kids who don’t want a full restaurant experience.
Or you can just grab a bag of beignets to eat as you explore Downtown Disney! It’s a separate line that moves pretty quickly.
4. Salt and Straw
A family favorite in Downtown Disney is Salt and Straw. This is a family-run scoop shop featuring innovative ice cream flavors and combinations.
We first discovered it on a trip to Portland, Oregon and now we have a location near our home in Seattle!
After a few busy days at Disney, it can be a real treat to head down to a local ice cream shop and enjoy handmade ice cream. The interesting part of Salt and Straw is that the ice cream is created in small batches.
The ingredients used to make the ice cream is sourced from local artisans, chefs, and farmers. If you love small businesses and delicious ice cream, this place is for you.
5. CrazyShake Window by Black Tap
How many of you have seen those amazing crazy shakes floating around?
CrazyShake Window by Black Tap is one experience in Downtown Disney that you need to check out. CrazyShakes are those amazing huge shakes you see everywhere.
You can order a CrazyShake or other beverages here. Most people love coming here to enjoy something they haven’t had before.
CrazyShakes are a craze that is unstoppable. Think big cookies, brownies, and anything else sugary that you are craving!
6. LEGO Store
If your kids love LEGOs as much as my boys do, you’ll want to block off time to hang out at the LEGO Store.
While they don’t really offer many exclusive items, you’ll find all kinds of Disney LEGO sets.
You’ll want to take a few moments to look around and see all their huge LEGO builds, like the Hulk, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and more!
They have their famous create-your-own-minifigure section, which makes a cheap Disney souvenir.
What’s really awesome is they have a large outdoor LEGO play area in the shade for kids to create LEGO cars and race them down ramps. Or just build!
7. Napolini Pizza
On the go in Downtown Disney? Napolini Pizza is probably the place to go!
I love this place because whether you want a hearty sandwich or a pizza, they have it all. It’s notorious for being an Italian food-focused restaurant.
You can even get fresh salads and traditional desserts.
Napolini Pizza has become a family favorite around here, plus they are a newly renovated pizzeria, where you can even make your own.
8. Earl of Sandwich
When you’re craving something delicious, Earl of Sandwich may be just what the doctor ordered. Actually it’s hard to go past here without smelling the delicious aroma, especially at breakfast time.
I’m a huge fan of their sandwiches (especially the tuna melt) and their tater tots.
This is one of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat. Everyone in our family loves something here and it’s fairly affordable!
It’s a safe way to ensure everyone in the family LOVES their food. This is one place you won’t have to fight for the kids to enjoy.
9. Splitsville Kingpin Stage at Downtown Disney
Are you looking for something to do with the family that will keep their attention?
Splitsville Kingpin Stage at Downtown Disney is the place to go! When it’s a non-park day, this is something enjoyable to do.
You’ll notice that local musicians grace the stage. You’d even have access to this stage 365 days a year. It’s always fun to do a little grooving when you have some downtime.
Plus, it’s also a great place to go bowling near Disneyland and I have to admit that their food is pretty tasty!
10. Disney’s Pin Traders
Do you have a few Disney pin traders in your family? Our kids just started trading pins and we spend a lot of our time hunting down new (and limited edition) Disney pins.
Disney’s Pin Traders is an awesome place to check out, while in Downtown Disney on your nonpark day.
Here, you’ll be able to find collectible pins in every style you can think of.
Disney Pinning is a family tradition and many people do it! It’s exciting, fun, and gives the kids something extra to do,
11. Marceline’s Confectionery
Who is ready for something sweet and yummy? Marceline’s Confectionery is an old-fashioned candy shop and it’s amazing!
When Walt Disney was a boy, he grew up in Marceline, Missouri. This confectionery is named after his hometown. How cool is that?
It’s hard to find an old-fashioned candy shop that the whole family can enjoy. Well, guess what? This is the place!
We always stop here to pick up caramel apples (they are the best we’ve ever had) and the boys like picking out Mickey Rice Krispies Treats!
Marceline’s Confectionery is an awesome place to spend time. They have a bunch of candy to explore.
12. Disney Dress Shop
My absolute favorite place at Downtown Disney is the Disney Dress Shop.
I’m seriously obsessed with their adorable vintage-inspired dresses, bags, wallets, and other accessories. While you can find many of their dresses online at ShopDisney, they also carry a few exclusive Parks items.
The last time I was there, I picked up a cute Minnie doll wearing the same Disney Up dress I own!
Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, they have a dressing room so you can try on the different styles and see what suits you!
13. Ballast Point Brewing Co.
Another great place to eat in Downtown Disney is Ballast Point Brewing Co. It’s a family-friendly brewery that has a cool rooftop patio.
It’s actually the only brewery at Disneyland, which is kind of cool.
They have a great assortment of California cuisine, like poke and things with avocado.
14. Disney Home
This is quickly becoming one of our favorite shopping Downtown Disney spots. They used to sell these items at our local Disney Store, but it shut down a few years ago.
The Disney Home store has all the cutest Disney-themed kitchen and lifestyle items. You’ll find aprons, cookie cutters, candles, puzzles, artwork, pillows, mugs, and so much more.
Plus, they have a nice selection of pet items. We totally bought a Yoda cat toy there on our last trip!
If you visit Downtown Disney with kids, it’s helpful to know that there’s a Jamba store right in the middle.
It’s a great place to grab a morning smoothie for an easy breakfast on the go. It also is perfect if you’re taking a mid day break and need to refuel.
16. Pelé Soccer
Another fairly new addition to the Downtown Disney District is Pele Soccer.
The store is named after the legendery Brazilian soccer player, Pele. It has tons of soccer jerseys from both club and national teams. You can even have them customize your jersey for you.
Plus you can get cleats, soccer balls, and other accessories.
Maybe it’s because I’m from Seattle, but I always want to know where the nearest Starbucks is located.
There’s a fairly large Starbucks right in the heart of the Downtown Disney District. It serves breakfast as well as all types of hot and iced beverages.
Plus, you can get Starbucks Disneyland souvenirs like reusable mugs and tumblers.
Top Questions about Downtown Disney
Do we need to buy tickets to go to Downtown Disney?
Nope! That’s what is so cool about it. No theme park tickets are required.
In fact, you can just go to Downtown Disney for your Disneyland experience if you don’t want to pay to enter the theme parks. It’s a great place to grab Disney souvenirs, Parks merchandise, Disney treats, and more!
Where is the Monorail station in Downtown Disney area?
The Disneyland monorail is located right next to the Star Wars Trading Post in Downtown Disney.
How far is Downtown Disney from Disney’s Paradise Pier hotel?
It’s about 0.8 miles away and should only take you 5-10 minutes to walk there.
How far is Downtown Disney from Disneyland Hotel?
It’s about 0.2 miles away from the Disneyland Hotel and it will only take you a few minutes to walk there.
Where can I enter Downtown Disney?
You can enter Downtown Disney near the back of the park entrances or near the Disneyland Hotel. You’ll need to go through security before you can enter Downtown Disney.
Is there a Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney?
No there is not a Rainforest Cafe in Downton Disney.
Is La Brea Bakery still in Downtown Disney?
No, it closed and that spot is now the Earl of Sandwich.
What can we do in Downtown Disney at night?
At nighttime, head to Splitsville Luxury Lanes for bowling, music and food. Or check out the Downtown Disney LIVE! Stage.
Where is it good to see fireworks in Downtown Disney?
In the courtyard between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, many families bring blankets and have a little picnic as they watch the fireworks outside the parks.
In Downtown Disney, you’ll want to head over by Splitsville and Tortilla Jo’s. This is where you’ll find the clearest view of the fireworks.
And you can also get a great view from the Downtown Disney parking lot near the security area.
Where can I park at Downtown Disney?
Downtown Disney has its own parking lot. You can get 3 hours of parking when you make a $20 minimum purchase and receive validation from any Downtown Disney location (including quick-service restaurants, merchandise locations, and kiosks)
Guests can also get up to 5 hours of free parking with validation from any Downtown Disney table-service restaurant.
Otherwise, parking costs $14/hour (charged in 30-minute increments) with a minimum $7 charge after the initial 15-minute grace period.
What are the Stores in Downtown Disney?
- California Sole
- Collectible Medallion Machines
- Curl Surf
- The Disney Dress Shop
- Disney Home
- Disney’s Pin Traders
- Kaman’s Art Shoppes
- The LEGO Store
- Marceline’s Confectionary
- PANDORA Jewelry
- Pele Soccer
- Pressed Coin Machines
- Star Wars Trading Post
- Sunglass Icon
- WonderGround Gallery
- World of Disney
What are the Restaurants in Downtown Disney?
There is lots of great dining at Downtown Disney. You can make reservations in the Disneyland app or choose quick-service restaurants.
- Ballast Point Brewing Co.
- Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes
- Blue Ribbon Corn Dog
- CrazyShake Window by Black Tap
- Diggity Dogs
- Earl of Sandwich
- Kayla’s Cake
- Naples Ristorante e Bar
- Napolini Pizzeria
- Pizza Counter
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
- Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express
- Salt & Straw
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes
- Tacqueria at Tortilla Jo’s
- Tortilla Jo’s
- Wetzel’s Pretzels
Are Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar & Cafe still in Downtown Disney?
No, both Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar & Cafe closed in April 2023.
Downtown Disney for Families Wrap Up
If you’re ever in Disneyland, I hope you’ll take the time to head Downtown. It’s a popular attraction for those who are looking for something to do on their non-park days.
We always find cool Disney souvenirs, have fun at the bowling alley, and enjoy live entertainment.