We love going to Disney Springs. For us, it’s a fun afternoon, a cool dinner spot, or a great place to meet friends in town vacationing at Disney World or Universal. I’ve spoken to a lot of people that haven’t been since “Downtown Disney” became “Disney Springs”- and there are a ton of awesome changes and additions. Here is what you need to know and all there is to do at Disney Springs:
What is Disney Springs
Disney Springs is an area on Disney property specifically for shopping, eating, entertaining, and night life. You park in a parking lot on the outskirt of Disney Springs, and walk around throughout the Springs (almost like a Disney park). Disney Springs are centered around “Springs” and a lake, making it a really pretty, Disney-themed area to enjoy. There are activities and live performances as you walk around- so the vibe is fantastic.
Disney Springs is free
Disney Springs has free parking and there is no admission. They have added new parking garages located right next to it (no tram rides or monorails necessary) in addition to their surface lots. They do have preferred parking for $10 near World of Disney and Cirque Du Soliel (the surface lots) and valet parking for $20, but it really isn’t necessary as the garage parking is still convenient.
It’s a perfect break from the parks
It can be difficult (especially with kids) going from park to park your entire Orlando trip. I always recommend breaking up a Disney vacation with pool days and Disney Springs. You can go at your own pace and not feel like you are losing any money. Disney Springs is also the perfect place to visit for a fun night out- even if you aren’t going to the Disney parks.
Plan to shop
The biggest change since Downtown Disney became Disney Springs is all of the added shopping areas (they took over an entire parking lot). They have a ton of higher end shopping and boutique options now- on top of all the Disney shops. Everything from: Alex & Ani to Basin (love that place) to Kate Spade to Zara. Walk around and enjoy- occasionally you will see the “strolling piano” riding around entertaining guests. I love this- especially during Christmas time.
BTW- The largest Disney shop, World of Disney, is located right there in Disney Springs. Stay together, you can lose your kids. Lol. I would say they have ALMOST everything that you see in the parks (and more).
They have a Dine-In theater
AMC Movies at Disney Springs has a huge theater complex with 2 different theater areas- a “normal” theater and a “Dine-In” theater option. The Dine-In theater has a full menu (and waiter) if you have never experienced this before. We love taking friends to this theater if they have never been and want the full meal experience, but I would suggest trying one of the other fabulous restaurants at Disney Springs (so many good choices) and doing the regular movie. If you get there for a movie before noon the price is only $5.95 (both adults and children).
Checkout Splitsville Luxury Lanes
Splitsville is an upscale bowling alley right there in Disney Springs. The vibe is family fun throughout the day, and “party fun” later into the night. They have bowling, billiards, a bar, and live entertainment.
Go see the Cirque Du Soleil Show before it ends (December 31)
The Cirque Du Soleil theater is right there at Disney Springs. The shows I have been to (La Nouba) are absolutely fabulous. Check around for discounted tickets- they can be pricey. Disney has announced the show’s final performance will be December 31st. What is to come of the huge white building is TBA.
Disney Springs has kid friendly activities throughout
While the kids may be bored walking through the shopping areas, there are plenty of areas just for them. They have sprinklers, a carousel, train ride, and more. Make sure you go to the Lego Store for “hands-on” play. We always have to drag our daughter out of there. Throughout the day they have several concerts and live entertainment on Marketplace Stage. I’ve seen everything from school choirs, to magicians, kids dance parties, and live music.
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disney Springs is located inside the World of Disney Store at Disney Springs. This is a second location to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique located in Magic Kingdom. They both offer the same services and have the same setup. This is a salon for princesses and princes ages 3-12 to receive makeovers. It is pretty pricey and requires a reservation (Check online for package options). Afterwards, there is a royal princess walk (anyone can participate) around Disney Springs.
You also may want to check out the Aerophile. This is the large hot air balloon (you can’t miss it- even from I4) where you go up for a great view of Disney Springs, then back down. It is the largest hand painted helium balloon! Tickets are around 15-20 bucks per person, but check groupon! I’ve seen some deals.
Use the ferry boat
The ferry boat is great if you are staying at a resort around Disney Springs; however, they can also take you from one side of the Springs to another. There are 3 stops at different parts and you can hop on and off (for free). We usually park on one end and walk all the way around and ferry back to where we parked. If you look at a map, Disney Springs is kind of in a “C” shape rather than a “circle” shape. So you can’t walk all the way around full circle.
Check out the Rooftop Beverage Bar at the New Coca Cola Store
It is quite a site, and being a Georgia girl I feel right at home. Enjoy some flavors from around the world and get a good view of Disney Springs. It’s located right next to the newly renovated Planet Hollywood (and stop by there for a famous milkshake).
Go out for dinner at Disney Springs
Beyond the shopping and entertainment, Disney Springs has over 52 awesome dining options and restaurants that are both delicious and entertaining. Some of our favorites include T-Rex, Rainforest Café, the newly renovated Planet Hollywood, and the Boathouse. Whatever you do- make SURE to head over to Sprinkles afterwards for a cupcake (and try out that Cupcake ATM).
Check out the night life
If you leave the kids at home, check out the night life scene at Disney Springs. It really comes to life at night, and it is open later than the parks (so go on over after the fireworks). Check out House of Blues Orlando, stop by Dockside Margaritas, Jock Lindseys Hangar Bar, or Raglan Road Irish Pub (among others). The buses run back to Disney World Resorts until 3am, same as when you need to have your car out of the garage.
Disney Springs is different from Disney’s Boardwalk
Disney Springs is a lot bigger than the Boardwalk, with a lot more options. Disney’s Boardwalk is set around the resort areas (Yacht/Beach Club, Swan and Dolphin, Boardwalk Inn) and is just that- a Boardwalk where everything faces out over the water toward Epcot. It is really very pretty, and in some places you can see the sun set over spaceship earth. There are some boardwalk entertainers and a couple little stores, and there are some fabulous restaurants/bars in this area as well. We love the Flying Fish. And definitely check out Jellyrolls piano bar if you make it over! We haven’t tried Trattoria al Forno yet, but we have been wanting to as you can meet Rapunzel/Flynn Ryder and Ariel/Eric. For more on character dining, check out Best Character Meals at Disney World.
There are special activities and events
Check the calendar for special activity and event times throughout the year at Disney Springs. There are often special activities you can catch. For instance, we love the drone performance light show during the holiday season!
You can rent strollers/ECVs if necessary.
Just like at the Disney parks, you can rent strollers, wheelchairs, and ECVs if necessary. If you park in the Lime garage, they are available as you walk into Disney Springs.