Downtown Disney History

Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village

The Marketplace celebrates its 31st anniversary during 2006. The "Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village" (as it was originally called) opened for business March 22, 1975. It was promoted as a "restful shopping atmosphere similar to a New England seaside village."

The following shops opened the shopping village: a wine cellar, tobacco shop, pharmacy, pet store, and small kiosks to watch craftspeople make candles, pottery and candy.

The marketplace evolved slowly over time and on May 1, 1977 the Empress Lily Riverboat (now Fulton's Crab House) debuted with its elegant dining room and lounge complete with a jazz band.

The name underwent several changes too. In 1977 the name was the "Walt Disney World Village" and in the 1980s it was the "Disney Village Marketplace."

In 1989 Pleasure Island opened adding a new dimension to the once quaint shopping village.

The 1990s saw a large expansion of brand name restaurants and shops including the Rainforest Cafe and Lego.

The Downtown Disney area, consisting of the new West Side, Pleasure Island and the Marketplace officially opened in 1997. The Master Planning Services were provided by the Rockwell Group.

Here's a bit of trivia for you:

The Annual Village Wine Festival, which began in 1986, led to the creation of Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival 10 years later.

Four former eateries were named after characters: Donald's Dairy Dip; Goofy's Grill, Minnie Mia's Italian Eatery and Chef Mickey's (moved into the Contemporary Resort in 1995).



Forty Thirst Street in WestSide closed early 2003 and reopened as Wetzels Pretzels.

Harrington Bay – Permanently closed as August 2001.

Wildhorse Store: Closed permanently as of Sunday, February 25, 2001.

Wildhorse Saloon – closed replaced by Motions

Fireworks Factory – closed replaced by Wildhorse Saloon


A Former Cast Member Writes….

ScoopGuy writes: I used to work on Pleasure Island, back in 1989, at XFRS (now called the Rock and Roll Beach Club) and it was a "Rockin Rollerdrome". The bottom level was a full bar, dance floor and live music. The chefs had a full buffet of snacks before the night time entertainment, each night. The second level used to be a skating rink that encircled the whole club, and the top level was a restaurant – serving pizza, drinks, etc. I believe that they had way too many injuries because of the skating rink – I can remember seeing twisted ankles and legs, and I assume that's why the rink "went away".

I don't know about today, but it used to be a hangout for celebrities. Back in 1989, George Lucas (of Star Wars fame) stopped one night, Louis Gosset Jr. came in as well. In fact, New Kids on the Block shot part of a music video outside the club one night I was working. They tried to sneak away wearing coats and hats, behind the ice cream shop next door, but it didn't work and they ran from the fans!

I have a lot of memories, but I wanted to mention these to you. Back then it was $12.00 to get into all of the clubs.