Downtown Disney turns 20 — take a look at how it’s changed

The Downtown Disney “shoppertainment center” that opened a month before Disney California Adventure in 2001 has changed and evolved during the outdoor shopping mall’s 20-year history.

Downtown Disney will mark its 20th anniversary on Tuesday, Jan. 12 with a few deals from original businesses.

The 20th anniversary of Downtown Disney will be unlike any previous year with California’s continuing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and restaurants. Downtown Disney retail shops must limit capacity and restaurants can offer only takeout food and beverages due to state guidelines and restrictions.

After a four-month coronavirus closure, Downtown Disney reopened in July in anticipation of Disneyland returning later in the month. A summer 2020 spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations put off the reopening of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure indefinitely. Disney’s Anaheim theme parks are not expected to fully reopen until spring or summer 2021.

Downtown Disney, right outside the entrance to Disneyland, opened up its shops and restaurants in 2001. (File photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG) 


The 20-acre mall debuted in 2001 with 300,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment venues that served as a “shoppertainment” connection between Disney’s two Anaheim theme parks and the resort’s hotels.

The mall boasted a mix of Art Deco, Craftsman and Prairie architectural styles that reflected the California postcard theme of the new theme park that debuted in February 2001 across from Disneyland.

Original Downtown Disney businesses still operating today include:

World of Disney
Lego Store
Naples Ristorante
La Brea Bakery
Catal Restaurant
Uva Bar & Cafe
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express
Wetzel’s Pretzels
Marceline’s Confectionery

Gone from Downtown Disney’s opening day are the House of Blues, ESPN Zone, Rainforest Cafe and AMC Theatres.

The ESPN sports bar, rainforest-themed restaurant and 12-screen theater closed in anticipation of a since-cancelled Disneyland hotel project.

House of Blues moved across Harbor Boulevard to the Anaheim GardenWalk outdoor mall, replaced by Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Downtown Disney. AMC relocated to GardenWalk as well. The former ESPN Zone has been used for a number of Disney pop-up events and shops. The Rainforest Cafe and AMC Theatres locations at Downtown Disney remain unoccupied.

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Over the past two decades, other businesses have come and gone from Downtown Disney.Build-a-Bear Workshop and Ridemakerz departed to make room for Ballast Point Brewing Company and Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes. The mall’s ice cream parlor changed …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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