On Fridays, I highlight products that I think are sweet, in every sense of the meaning–sometimes literally, but not always!
I was raised on Disney. Practically from birth, I watched and re-watched Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast until the videos fell apart. I collected the Disney Barbies, carried a Lion King backpack to school, and got made fun of in the third grade for never bringing any Valentines that weren’t Disney princess-themed. :)
I visited Walt Disney World for the first time when I was 12, but I didn’t get the chance to return again until college, when I lived within an hour of the parks. My college years cemented my love for the most magical place on earth, and I was on Disney property whenever my class schedule (and finances) allowed.
Even when visiting my favorite park, Magic Kingdom, wasn’t in the budget, I’d grab some friends and drive to Downtown Disney for a day. It was the perfect place for broke college students to hang out–free admission, free parking, and the same Disney ambiance that the parks themselves offered. My friends and I loved sampling the free chocolates from Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, seeing movies at the AMC theater, posing with the character statues, and shopping at World of Disney.
Now that I no longer live within driving distance, I don’t make it to my favorite vacation destination often anymore. This fall, though, I got the chance to take another Disney trip, and it was a fantastic one!
My mom, aunt, and cousin joined me on a mother-daughter Disney trip aboard the Disney Fantasy, a trip I’ll be sharing more from in the coming weeks. The condensed version? It was INCREDIBLE.
Between landing in Orlando and setting sail, however, we had a few hours to kill, and the penny-pinching college student in me knew just where to go: Downtown Disney!
The welcoming scent of Ghirardelli chocolate greeted us at the entrance, and we gladly took samples of the holiday peppermint bark flavor the staff was handing out at the door. It was so much richer and creamier than the ones that come packaged at the grocery store!
It was cooler outside that day, so we also bought coffees and hot chocolates to go with our free chocolates. I happen to know that the ice cream makes a pretty great choice for warmer days. :)
I couldn’t resist walking through my favorite store, World of Disney, to check out the clothes, kitchenware, cookbooks, and souvenirs while I was there. If you’ve never been inside, it’s the Disney jackpot! Obviously the cooking section, in particular, gets me excited–I’m pretty sure I’ve collected almost all the cookbooks with Disney recipes at this point!–but there’s so much to see in every department–and there are several! I step inside, and instantly I convince myself I need an entire Disney kitchen, wardrobe, and jewelry collection. :)
For kitchenware exclusively, there’s also a specialized store up the street, Mickey’s Pantry. It’s easy to spend a lot of time in this one, too!
We didn’t have a whole day to spend downtown this time, but I couldn’t leave without stopping at my number one Downtown Disney spot: Candy Cauldron! It’s mandatory for me. I never visit Disney without getting one of the deluxe, over-the-top, chocolatey caramel apples to go. They are the best! First, the giant apples are dipped in caramel, then either white or milk chocolate, and then the candy or topping of your choice. I’ve tried most of them, and they never disappoint. This time, I went with my favorite, a white chocolate caramel apple with Reese’s Pieces–and an extra bonus: marshmallow Mickey ears. It cost me $10, but I think it was a fair price. I savored every last bite.
Everything else in the Candy Cauldron is delicious, impressive, and Disneyfied, too. Since it was close to Christmastime, the place was packed with Christmas-themed treats–Santa hat cupcakes, Gingerbread Mickeys, apples decorated to look like Christmas sweaters and lights–all kinds of fun treats!
No matter the time of year, this place never disappoints, and prices are relatively reasonable, too! I’m always happy to make a meal out of my Candy Cauldron sweets instead of spending more money somewhere else.
The rest of my party thought we needed a decent meal, though, so after picking out our apples, we stopped in at Wolfgang Puck’s for dinner. Despite my frequent trips to Downtown Disney in college, I’d never tried this one, and I was really impressed! For the record? This Wolfgang Puck’s bears no resemblance to the ones you see in airports. This one was much better!
We split a goat cheese flatbread with pesto, fresh basil and roasted tomatoes. It was delicious! We had to wait in line outside for about 15 minutes before we could order, but once we’d put in our request, we easily found a table to sit at, and servers brought our food out within a few minutes. It was a classy–yet quick–place to eat. We also ordered a creme brulee to finish things off, and it was the perfect ending to a great day.
Other favorite eats in Downtown Disney include anything from the dine-in theater (They have cupcakes!!), treats from Goofy’s Candy Company, the white chocolate raspberry Minnie’s Bake Shop cookies from Candy Cauldron, and strawberry milkshakes from Ghirardelli. I could eat my way around this place any day!
What are your favorite things to eat and do at Downtown Disney?
Look for more Disney recaps (and recipes!) coming up soon! I had a lot of fun and a lot of great food, and I can’t wait to share more!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. I simply love Downtown Disney–and really, all things Disney!