Shopping, fine dining, exciting shows, and concerts and dancing ’til the last club closes at 2am, are on offer at Downtown Disney, giving visitors plenty to do at Walt Disney World Resort after the theme parks have closed. Three distinct areas collectively make up Downtown Disney – the Marketplace, a lovely outdoor mall; West Side, featuring stores, eateries, and concert venues; and the centerpiece of late-night Disney, Pleasure Island, a floating non-stop party complete with clubs, shows, and fireworks. Downtown Disney offers free parking, and the West Side and Marketplace areas have no charge for admission.
Pleasure Island, which doesn’t open until 7pm, requires separate admission unless you have the Ultimate Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus passes; you must be at least 18 – or 21 for some venues – to enter. DisneyQuest, a fivestory “indoor interactive theme park,” also charges separate admission, except for Ultimate Park Hopper and Premium Annual pass holders. Buses run almost continually to the on-property resort hotels.
This ultimate party zone consists mainly of eight nightclubs, each with a different theme. By far the most relaxing and surprising one is the Adventurers Club, which is more like a performance-art piece than a nightclub. Visitors walk into the year 1937 and a stately, exquisitely decorated British gentlemen’s club where they are recruited as “new members.” Club activities may involve a “radio broadcast” or a “balderdash” storytelling competition. There are odd surprises at every turn, from talking exotic masks to bar stools that raise and lower themselves.
Another all-time favorite is The Comedy Warehouse, which hosts hourly improvised comedy shows. The innovative decor of the club consists of “retired” Disney signage.
The most popular of the music clubs is Mannequins Dance Palace, which offers up-to-date music and DJs spinning the mostly electronica/techno rhythms alongside a stunningly elaborate light show. Motion is squarely aimed at the younger crowd and goes for the most popular sounds straight from the Top 40, played deafeningly loud. Older visitors can relive the rock era by visiting the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beach Club, which offers live bands recreating the reliable crowdpleasing hits of yesterday and today. The disco era is the theme of 8 Trax, an accurate representation of 1970s styles and music. The BET Soundstage Club requires patrons to be 21 and up, and plays the latest hip-hop, reggae, and R&B music. Live entertainment can be found at the Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant, which features authentic Irish food, drink, and music. There is a handful of shops on the island as well as a bevy of live street performers and outdoor stages, plus a daily New Year’s Street Party, with a concert, countdown, and fireworks display at midnight.
AFTER DARK EVENTS
Apart from the Downtown Disney attractions, other prime after-dark entertainment includes dinner shows and the Electrical Water Pageant. A floating parade that wanders around park resorts such as Polynesian and Contemporary, the Electrical Water Pageant is best viewed from the unobstructed beach in Fort Wilderness. This kids’ favorite showcases 20 minutes of dazzling electrical animation – dolphins jumping out of the water, whales swimming by, even a fire breathing dragon. Around since 1971, it often serves as an opening act or postscript for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks. Disney’s two long-running dinner shows, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Disney’s Spirit of Aloha, should not tempt visitors to leave the theme parks early but they are still enjoyable. The first is a popular Western comedy show at Fort Wilderness’ Pioneer Hall; the second features authentic Polynesian music, dance, and food. Another show,
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, provides country ‘n’ western fun.