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Disney Village/Marketplace/Downtown Disney
Disney Village/Marketplace/Pleasure Island
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Originally opened as Lake Buena Vista Village on March 22, 1975, this shopping village was later known as Walt Disney World Village starting in 1977. In 1989, it underwent another name change and became the Disney Village Marketplace. The name was changed yet again in 1996 to Downtown Disney Marketplace before being extensively remodeled into Disney Springs in 2015.
The Walt Disney World Village area is also home to the former Preview Center. This building was open from January 10, 1970 until September 30, 1971. Guests could get a sneak peek at Walt Disney World at this building located on Preview Blvd (now Hotel Plaza Blvd). Models were on display and a film was shown. There was also a shop and snack bar. The building was later used as offices for the Buena Vista Land company and after that was known as the Reception Center and was where guests of Walt Disney World Village hotels would check in. The building was also a post office at one time. The former Preview Center is still standing and is now the Amateur Athletic Union.
Crossroads was the shopping center across the street from Disney Village Marketplace/Downtown Disney. It opened in February of 1989 and featured a Gooding's supermarket, shops, McDonald's and a Pirate's Cove miniature golf course. It used to be owned by Disney but was sold to GE Capital Realty Group in 2001.
There have been numerous shops and restaurants through the years at Walt Disney World Village/Downtown Disney. The following is a snapshot of shops and restaurants during the first four decades of operation. For a list of former Walt Disney World Village hotels, visit the Resorts section here.
The First Decade: 1976 Snapshot
24KT Precious Adornments: This jewelry shop was located near the Village Restaurant and Village Lounge.
2 R’s -Read’n & Rite’n: A card shop located next to Crystal Arts and across from Chalet Candle Shop. In addition to stationary, party supplies and books, the shop also did personalization and was a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Shop.
Anniversary Room: The store sold china, silver and giftware and was located near Miss Merrily’s Madness. It later became the Christmas Chalet
Apothecary: In addition to cosmetics, you could get film, sundries and magazines here. It was located near Village Spirits and later was known as Village Gifts and Sundries.
Bath Parlour: Located near Pipe Dream and Cane, Wicker, Rattan & Suns, this store stocked bed and bath items. The name of this shop was later spelled as Bath Parlor.
Candy Factory: Located next to the Gourmet Pantry, you could look through two walls of windows to watch candy being made. It was later known as the Candy Shoppe. The Gourmet Pantry later took over the entire space.
Cane, Wicker, Rattan & Suns: You could find a wicker rickshaw, rattan gazebo or cane-backed rocking chair at this store located near Port of Entry.
Captain’s Tower: Special events were held here, including the famous Darth Vader Star Wars visit in 1977 that could be said to be the very first “Star Wars Weekend”. This tower also had lighted reindeer positioned to look as if they were circling the tower at Christmas time. It later became known as Character Kids Tower. It became Disney Pin Traders in July of 2002.
Carolyn’s Couture: Designers would often make appearances at this shop. Lilly Pulitzer designed a collection for this store in 1975 that was only the second time she designed for a specific buyer (the first was the King of Morocco). It was located near Posh Pets and 24K Precious Adornments.
Chalet Candle Shop: Craftsmen created candles in this shop near the Pottery Chalet. It later became Village Guest Services and candles were featured in the Pottery Chalet.
Country Address: This store featured casual clothes for women and was located near Carolyn’s Couture. It later relocated by the former Flower Garden and Michael’s. It closed on July 23, 1994 and was replaced by The Art of Disney.
Crystal/Cristal Arts: Located near the Village Restaurant, crystal cutters could be observed here. Early press materials spelled the name of the store as “Crystal” Arts but it was later known as “Cristal Arts”.
Flower Garden: Located near Toys Fantastique, this shop sold live and artificial plants, as well floral arrangements. It also was part of the “Night of Wine and Roses” held on Mondays at the Lake Buena Vista Club. It later became part of Mickey & Company.
Gourmet Pantry: Stock up on delicacies from around the world at this shop next to the Candy Factory.
Michael’s: This barber offered haircuts and manicures for men and was the only store to be closed on Sundays. It was located near Heidelberger’s Deli and later became Shoe Time.
Miss Merrily’s Madness: This store focused on clothes for young women and examples of clothes sold at this store have turned up with tags sewn in with the name of the shop. Located near Plus You, the shop was later known as Miss Merrily’s Fashions.
It’s a Small World After All: Located near Posh Pets, this children’s clothing store also offered Disney items and plush.
Pipe Dream: This tobacco store near Bath Parlour advertised that it had a “Pipe Hospital to quickly heal your pooped-out pipes.” The shop later became Sachet In.
Plus You: While the name of this shop near Miss Merrily’s Madness sounded like it was for plus-size women, it actually sold accessories.
Port of Entry: Sometimes referred to as Ports of Entry, this store was near Cane, Wicker, Rattan & Suns, the shop featured items from around the world before Epcot Center was around. There was later a store at Epcot also named Port of Entry. The Port of Entry shop in the Village later became Mickey’s Character Shop.
Posh Pets: Live animals (including an albino skunk!) were sold at this store near Carolyn’s Couture, as well as accessories and pet grooming by appointment. It closed on October 9, 1976 and in December of 1976, Toys Fantastique relocated into this space.
Post Office: It was located near Village Spirits and later moved to the Walt Disney World Village Reception Center where the check-in for the villas was located.
Pottery Chalet: At one point this was the largest shop in the Village and was near the Chalet Candle Shop. Potters could be observed working on their wares. Part of the store later became You & Me Kid.
Sir Edward’s Haberdasher: Located across from Pipe Dream, this shop for men was named after Disney executive Edward Moriarty.
Toledo Arts: Craftsmen were usually on hand to demonstrate Damascene work (etching metal with acid and adding gold or silver) near Crystal/Cristall Arts.
Toys Fantastique: Located near the Flower Garden, this shop had high quality toys ranging including Breyer horses, Madame Alexander dolls and teddy bears made from mink fur. In December of 1976 it moved and replaced Posh Pets. The original location later became Sassy’s and the toy store was connected to It’s a Small World After All. The shop closed in May of 1988.
Village Spirits: Sample wines and purchase them along with beer and spirits from around the world at this location near the Apothecary and Post Office.
Von Otto’s Antiques: Located near Port of Entry and Toledo Arts, Otto Rabby was the antique buyer for Olde World Antiques in the Magic Kingdom and stocked this shop with items such as mahogany children’s beds, a French chateau’s dining set, Spanish knight-puppets, hound-head walking sticks, gilt-edged mirrors and grandfather clocks.
Windjammer Dock Shop: Guests had to pass through this shop to get to Cap’n Jack’s Oyster Bar. It sold swimwear and also featured some nautical items during the early years.
Cap’n Jack’s Oyster Bar: This restaurant was known for its oysters on the half shell, strawberry margaritas and the views of Buena Vista Lagoon. It was name after Jack Olsen, who was the head of merchandise operations at Walt Disney World. The name was changed on February 20, 2000 to Captain Jack's Restaurant and closed for good on August 17, 2013.
Heidelberger’s Deli: This eatery advertised that it had “palm-stretching sandwiches” and was located near Michael’s. It was sometimes referred to in press materials as Der Heidelberger’s Deli.
Lite Bite: Although it sounded like it catered to guests who wanted a healthy meal, it actually featured fast food. It was near Toledo Arts and later became Goofy’s Grill.
The First Decade: Star Wars Characters Visit in 1977
Long before Star Wars weekends at the Studios, the Dark Lord of the Sith was visiting Disney property. In October of 1977, Darth Vader took time out from his busy schedule to visit Walt Disney World Village during the height of the original Star Wars mania. Scott Santmyer was lucky enough to be there and sent in these pictures to Walt Dated World. He recalls that "autographed" posters were given out similar to the ones shown in the background of these pictures. It appears that this event was most likely held in the Captain's Tower in the Village.
Michael Widell also remembers that day but he recalls that Darth Vader wasn't the only Star Wars character there. "We lived in Tampa at the time and my parents went shopping quite often in the Village. It just happened that one of the weekends we drove over was during this event. There were other costumed characters from the movie but all attention was on Darth, the line for Mark Hamill was very small and he left shortly after the event began." Can anyone else confirm this?
David Simpson also remembers this event: "I grew up in Orlando and was at the poster signing event for Darth Vader in 1977. Those posters were shown on the Antiques Roadshow 2009 Chattanooga show Episode 2. It was valued at $2,000.00. The lines were very long for the signing and other stars from the movie were present, but everyone wanted to meet Darth Vader. The signing did take place at the Captain's Tower and went on into the evening hours."
The First Decade: 1978 "Village Whatchamacallit"
For many years, there was a playground slide with covered climbing tubes in Walt Disney World Village. Later painted blue, it was most likely taken out due to liability reasons and there was a giant kaleidoscope-type sculpture in its place near the World of Disney Store for awhile. Some press materials referred to the slide as the "Village Whatchamacallit". In the photo below, a youngster plays on the slide in 1978.
The Second Decade: 1986 Snapshot
24KT Precious Adornments: This shop finally closed around 1995.
2R’s- Read’n & Rite’n: The store was now presented by Western Publishing. The shop would later relocate to the Village Gifts and Spirits building and become known as 2R’s Reading and Riting.
Artespana: This store was new in 1986 and was located in an building that was added during an expansion between the Christmas Chalet and the Empress Lilly. It was presented by Arribas Brothers and featured artisan gifts from Spain. On September 15, 1988 the name changed to Eurospain and it went by that name until the store closed on September 15, 1995.
Bath Parlor: The “u” was now dropped from “Parlor” but the store was still in the same location.
Christmas Chalet: This open year-round Christmas shop was located in the former Anniversary Room shop.
Country Address: Relocated to a store between Shoe Time and Mickey & Co. It still sold clothing for women and also juniors. It closed on July 23, 1994 and was replaced by The Art of Disney on August 28, 1994.
Cristel Arts: This store was still in the same location but now presented by Arribas Brothers.
Gourmet Pantry: The Candy Factory was no longer listed as a store next to it although Gourmet Pantry still advertised that it had a “candy shoppe”.
Mickey & Co.: This shop was sponsored by J.G. Hook and featured Disney fashions. It later became part of Team Mickey’s Athletic Company.
It’s a Small World After All: This shop was now neighbors with a relocated Toys Fantastique.
Pottery Chalet: Still in the same location, it featured crystal, pottery, porcelain, candles, linens and Florida gifts. The $7,500 Taj Mahal music box was one of the most expensive things in the store. It later became You & Me Kid and Personal Message.
Resort Wear Unlimited: Located next to It’s a Small World After All, this sportswear/swimwear store was the former location of Carolyn’s Couture and the original location of Country Address.
Sachet In: Located in the former Pipe Dream space, it sold sachets and soaps and was a natural fit to be next door neighbors with Bath Parlor.
Sassy’s: This shop featuring fashions for women and children was in the former Toys Fantastique space.
Shoe Time: Located in the former Michael’s location, it sold shoes and accessories for women. It later became a part of Team Mickey’s Athletic Club.
Sir Edward’s Haberdasher
Toys Fantastique: Relocated and was next to It’s a Small World After All.
Village Gifts and Sundries: This store that featured gifts from Florida replaced the Apothecary. This shop later became Art of Disney.
Windjammer Dock Shop
Cap’n Jack’s Oyster Bar
Heidelberger’s Deli: Now sponsored by Hormel.
Verandah Restaurant: Chilled strawberry soup, Monte Cristo sandwiches, Chicken Parisian and more.
Village Ice Cream Parlour & Bake Shop: This ice shop and bakery was located near Artespana. It was later known as Donald’s Dairy Dip.
Village Restaurant/Village Lounge: The restaurant was now advertising that it offered a brunch menu between 9:30 and 3:00.
The Third Decade: 1996 Snapshot
2R’s Reading and Riting: This shop was now located in the former Village Gifts/Spirits building and was serving coffee among the books.
The Art of Disney: Located in the former location of Village Gifts and Sundries and connected to 2R’s Reading and Riting, this gallery sold animation art and other Disney art. Country Address used to be in this location at one point also.
Character Kids Tower: The former Captain’s Tower became a sales location for character clothes and costumes for children.
Christmas Chalet: Relocated to the former Artespana, this shop would later move again and become Disney’s Days of Christmas.
The City: This trendy clothing store for men and women featured brands like Mossimo, Stussy, Yaga, Paris Blues, Steel, Guess, My Michelle and No Fear and was in the former location of It’s a Small World After All.
Discover: Located in the old location of 2R’s Reading and Riting, this shop featured nature gifts. Despite the store name, American Express was the official card of Walt Disney World during this time, although Visa, MasterCard and Traveler’s Checks were also accepted.
EUROSpain: Still sponsored by Arribas Brothers and featuring crystal cutters, this was the new name for the Cristal Arts shop.
Gourmet Pantry: Disney was listing this as both a shop and restaurant in 1996 park guides. The store portion featured cooking gadgets and wine.
Harrington Bay Clothiers: Located near the Tower, this men’s clothing store was decorated to look like a Bermuda plantation home and featured apparel by Polo, Nautica and Tommy Hilfiger. The shop opened March 23, 1992 and closed July 15, 2001.
Mickey’s Character Shop: This store closed after World of Disney opened.
Resortwear Unlimited: In addition to women’s sportswear, this shop was now selling Lancome products.
Summer Sands: This shop that sold Florida gifts superseded Village Gifts and was located in the former location of Toys Fantastique.
Team Mickey’s Athletic Club: This sports shop replaced Shoe Time, Country Address and Mickey & Co on April 19, 1987 and closed in January of 2014.
Toys Fantastic: Opened in August of 1992, this shop relocated in 1996 next to Mickey’s Character Shop. Mattel was now the sponsor and the shop featured brands such as Hot Wheels and Barbie. At one point there was also a full size Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game available to play in the store. With Once Upon a Toy on the horizon and Mickey’s Character Shop preparing to close for World of Disney, this shop’s days were numbered and it closed in 2002 to be replaced by Summer Sands.
World of Disney: This massive Disney superstore replaced Mickey’s Character Shop.
You and Me Kid: This shop opened in 1988 and was named after an early Disney Channel show. It featured toys and clothes for infants through preteens. It was connected to Toys Fantastique and the Christmas Chalet and while the 1996 Birnbaum guide listed the store, it had actually closed in 1995.
Cap'n Jack’s Oyster Bar
Donald’s Dairy Dip: This was the new name for the Village Ice Cream Parlour.
Fulton’s Crab House: Opened in late spring of 1996 and replaced all the restaurants in the Empress Lilly.
Goofy’s Grill: This fast food restaurant served burgers, fries and shakes.
Gourmet Pantry: The food portion of the store served pastries, coffee, salads and sandwiches.
Minnie Mia’s Italian Eatery: Located in the former Heidelberger’s Deli, this restaurant served pizza made from “Minnie’s secret family recipes”. It was also known as Minnie Mia’s Pizzeria.
Rainforest Cafe: Opened in the summer of 1996.
The Fourth Decade: 2006 Snapshot
Arribas Brothers: New name for Eurospain.
The Art of Disney
Basin: Near the former Discover store. Basin is also located on the second level of the Grand Floridian.
Disney Tails: This shop for pet accessories shared space with Pooh Corner and Goofy’s Candy company in the former location of Summer Sands, The City and Resortwear Unlimited. This was also the same building that Posh Pets had been located in during the 1970s.
Disney’s Days of Christmas: Located in the previous location of Team Mickey Athletic Club.
Disney’s Pin Traders: Located in the former Captain’s Tower, this pin trading location opened in July of 2002..
Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories: Located in the former 2R’s Reading and Riting space, this shop focused on scrapbooks.
Goofy’s Candy Co.: Shared space the Pooh Corner building, former home of Summer Sands, The City and Resortwear Unlimited.
Lego Imagination Center
Mickey’s Mart: A “$10 or less” store. There had previously been a store with the same name in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. It later was known as Mickey’s Star Traders.
Mickey’s Pantry: Located near the Earl of Sandwich and in the former Gourmet Pantry location, it sold home and kitchen goods.
Once Upon a Toy: Sponsored by Hasbro.
Pooh Corner: Located near the former Summer Sands, The City and Resortwear Unlimited, this shop took over part of Disney Tails on November 24, 1997 and closed January 5, 2011.
Summer Sands: Relocated near Arribas Brothers and Team Mickey Athletic Club. In 2009 it was replaced by Tren-D.
Team Mickey Athletic Club: Relocated to former Mickey’s Character Shop area.
World of Disney
Cap’n Jack’s Restaurant: The name was changed from Cap’n Jack’s Oyster Bar on February 20, 2000. It closed on August 17, 2013.
Earl of Sandwich: Located on the site of the former Gourmet Pantry
Fulton’s Crab House: Formerly the Empress Lilly
Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop: Near the former Goofy’s Grill.
McDonald’s: In addition to the regular McMenu, pizza was also served.
Rainforest Cafe: A second location appeared in 1998 at Animal Kingdom.
Wolfgang Puck Express: Near the former Minnie Mia’s restaurant.
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A memorable paper shopping bag from the early years of Walt Disney World
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