Walt Disney World/Disney Springs

This article is about the Disney Springs district at Walt Disney World. For the Downtown Disney district at Disneyland, see Disneyland#Downtown Disney.

The "Characters In Flight" balloon rises 400 feet over Disney Springs. Fulton's Crab House can be seen near the center. Planet Hollywood is on the far left, and DisneyQuest and Cirque du Soleil dominate the right side of the image.

At Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), you can design your own T-shirt or marvel at the biggest Disney store in the world; enjoy the fine cuisine of Wolfgang Puck or eat among the dinosaurs; visit a virtual-reality theme park or see incredible acrobatic feats; and in general just get away from the Disney parks for a while.

An outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment district in the southeast corner of Walt Disney World, Disney Springs comprises the Disney Springs Marketplace, The Landing, and Disney Springs West Side. Although it's geared primarily for adults looking for something to do away from the parks, kids will find several things to occupy their attention as well.

Nearby is the most popular water park in the country, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, as well as several resort hotels and golf courses.

Understand

Visitors to Disney Springs will find that it has a split personality. During the day, it's a shopping district like no other on Disney property, with everything from mega-stores to smaller specialty boutiques. This is the place to go if you're on day six of your vacation and still haven't figured out what souvenirs you want, or if you decide you just need some good old-fashioned retail therapy. Most of the large stores are in the Disney Springs Marketplace area, with the specialty shops concentrated in the Disney Springs West Side.

At night, though, the lights come on and the place really gets hopping, with live music, stage shows, and sophisticated restaurant/lounges opening their doors to a primarily adult clientele. If you get tired of the relentlessly artificial environments of the theme parks, you can drop by Disney Springs at night for fun of an entirely different sort. The strongest concentration of activity at night is on the West Side, but The Landing gets its share as well thanks to its upscale restaurants and lounges.

Disney Springs also serves as a major transportation hub (especially late at night when the parks are closed), as it's the most reliable way to transfer buses in order to travel between two resorts via Disney transportation.

History

In 1975, just a few years after Walt Disney World opened, Disney created a small shopping district far to the southeast of the Magic Kingdom, which was at the time the only developed area of the property. As the Walt Disney World Village, and later the Disney Village Marketplace, it remained a remote and rarely visited destination for many years. The only real attraction aside from shopping was the Empress Lilly (now Fulton's Crab House), a non-functional replica paddlewheel boat named after Walt's widow that featured three separate dining rooms.

Merriweather Pleasure's island

The back story of Pleasure Island held that the area was originally built around the turn of the 20th century by adventuring businessman Merriweather Pleasure. A severe storm destroyed Pleasure's business interests, however, and he disappeared, leaving behind only giant warehouses. In the late 80s, entrepreneurs "rediscovered" the warehouses and converted them into the clubs of Pleasure Island. The very popular Adventurers Club, uniquely, was set in Pleasure's time and featured many of his rich adventuring cohorts.

In the late eighties, however, as Walt Disney World prepared to open its third theme park, executives realized that adult guests would want to have a place to go after the parks closed, where they could have a drink or go out dancing. And why, they reasoned, should Disney force such guests to go off-property to the city of Orlando to find nightlife, when they could keep them (and their money) on-property? The result was Pleasure Island, a themed collection of nightclubs (with a few restaurants and shops scattered among them) built right next door to the Marketplace.

Even though Pleasure Island charged admission (although it was included in many vacation packages), it was a huge success, keeping Disney visitors on Disney property, and even attracting locals interested in unique nightclubs like the Adventurers Club and restaurants like Planet Hollywood.

The concept was expanded even further in 1997 with the renaming of the entire area to Downtown Disney, and the opening of the Downtown Disney West Side. The West Side, on the far side of Pleasure Island from the Marketplace, was anchored by the giant circus arena created for a Cirque du Soleil show, and the five-story indoor play area DisneyQuest. It also included several high-concept restaurants such as Bongos Cuban Cafe and House of Blues.

In 2008, Disney closed down the six remaining Pleasure Island nightclubs, leaving it relatively barren, although the restaurants and shops remained open. Disney had announced plans to convert Pleasure Island into a new district called Hyperion Wharf, but that plan was quickly shelved in favor of a new idea. In March 2013, Disney released a plan to re-imagine the entire Downtown Disney area as Disney Springs, representing a town that grew around a natural spring in central Florida. The West Side and Marketplace remain, while Pleasure Island has become "The Landing", and a new "Town Center" is being built to serve as the main entrance of the complex. To make up for the loss of parking caused by the construction, Disney has added parking garages.

As the area's transformation enters its final stages, though, Disney Springs remains an active and vibrant district, with a variety of non-theme-park entertainment for Walt Disney World guests and off-property visitors alike.

Get in

One of the ferries that travel between Old Key West and Disney Springs.

There is no admission fee for Disney Springs in general, although individual attractions may carry a fee. Typhoon Lagoon admission is $49 for adults and $41 for children, unless you have added the Water Park Fun and More option to your Magic Your Way package.

By car

Disney Springs and Typhoon Lagoon are on Buena Vista Drive; drive east from Epcot Center Drive or west from Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Parking is free at both locations. Due to ongoing construction, you may find certain parking lots at Disney Springs closed; additional parking is available across Buena Vista Drive at the Team Disney building and at SunTrust bank. Shuttle service is available from those locations, or you can walk. During peak periods, valet parking may be available for $25.

By Disney transportation

NOTE: Due to construction at Disney Springs, the procedure for getting to Typhoon Lagoon has changed temporarily. Before 2PM, the combined Disney Springs/Typhoon Lagoon bus will still get you there. After 2PM, you will need to get to Epcot, and then transfer to a Typhoon Lagoon bus to get there; you'll also need to transfer through Epcot to get back.

Buses and ferries alike travel to Disney Springs.

From any resort, you can take the Disney Springs & Typhoon Lagoon bus from your resort's bus stop. The buses make stops at Typhoon Lagoon, at Disney Springs Marketplace, and at Disney Springs West Side.

Ferries travel the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs to Disney Springs. The three ferry docks are at the far end of the West Side, at the Landing, and on the bridge between the Marketplace and Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga Springs and Downtown Disney Hotel Plaza guests can also walk to Disney Springs.

From the parks

From any of the four theme parks, you will need to make your way to a resort, then go from that resort to Disney Springs or Typhoon Lagoon. For Disney Springs, your best option might be to take a bus to Saratoga Springs and then walk to Disney Springs.

Get around

Map of Disney Springs

Disney Springs is very linear; you can just walk straight from one end to the other and see pretty much everything. The northeastern-most end is the Disney Springs Marketplace, with the bus stops located at the very tip. The Marketplace curves down and around to the southwest, where it meets up with The Landing. To the west is, of course, the Disney Springs West Side, with the La Nouba arena at the far end near the ferry terminal.

The entire strip is sandwiched between parking lots on the south side and Village Lake on the north. From Village Lake, boats can travel the Sassagoula River, which provides access to the Saratoga Springs, Old Key West and Port Orleans resorts. The Downtown Disney Hotel Plaza, a set of inexpensive non-Disney resorts on Disney property, lies just to the northeast of the Marketplace.

If you're tired of walking and need to get from one end of Disney Springs to the other, a free shuttle boat runs among the three docks every 15 minutes or somake sure you get on the Green Flag boat.

See and Do

La Nouba's massive home on the Disney Springs West Side.

You may have come for the shopping or for the food, but you shouldn't overlook the other attractions of Disney Springs. You can go to the movies, bowl a few frames, see a show, or even take a trip on the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World. You'll also find live entertainmentmusic and comedyat various venues throughout the complex, especially at night. (For example, look for Nova Era, a chamber trio playing classical music with a modern twist, Thursdays through Sundays outside Fulton's Crab House.) And don't miss DisneyQuest, a theme-park-in-a-box that kids will love.

Annual events

Typhoon Lagoon

The Crush 'n' Gusher is not your normal water slidesee how it actually goes up there?

According to Disney Imagineering legend, years ago, a fishing trawler named Miss Tilly found itself caught in a powerful hurricane. When the torrent subsided, the boat found itself perched precariously atop Mt. Mayday, with water still gushing down through channels and valleys to a lake below. What else was there to do but for the survivors to create Typhoon Lagoon?

Typhoon Lagoon is the second-most-visited water park in the world (Chime-Long WaterPark in Guangzhou, China, just barely passed it in 2013), and is a great place to beat the Summer heat from June through September. While its theme is not as whimsically inventive as that of its sister park, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon excels at providing guests a consistent and energetic setting for some of the best water rides in the world. But do keep an eye out for the unique touches the Imagineers have brought to the decor, including scattered remnants of ships' cargoes and even palm trees supposedly bent low by the hurricane!

Typhoon Lagoon is not far from Disney Springs, and the two often share bus routes. The park is usually open from 10AM5PM, and admission is $52 for adults or $44 for kids ages 3-10. Admission to the water park counts as one of your "Fun Visits" if you've added the Water Park Fun & More option to your Magic Your Way ticketsand note that just one admission almost pays for the cost of the option.

The direct telephone number for Typhoon Lagoon is +1 407 560-4141. Typhoon Lagoon closes for annual refurbishment every fall or winter, almost always including the month of December (during which Blizzard Beach remains open to provide a bit of Christmas-in-Florida atmosphere). The scheduled closure for 2015–16 is January 3 March 13, 2016.

Golf

There is one 18-hole championship golf course in the Disney Springs area. See "Golf" in the overview for rules and regulations. Monday through Friday, 18 holes will cost $89 if you're staying at a Disney hotel, and $104 otherwise. On weekends, add $10. During the summer, 10AM-3PM tee times are discounted; ask for the "Summer Price Slice" when you call. Late afternoon tee times are $59 on weekdays and $69 on weekends for everyone. Call +1 407 WDW-GOLF (939-4653) to reserve a tee time.

Spa

Waterfront recreation

The Riverside section of Disney's Port Orleans Resort has an old-fashioned Fishin' Hole, with cane rods and plenty of bluegill, bass, and catfish to catch (though you may have some competition, in the form of a river otter). Hours normally 7AM-1:45PM daily.

Buy

A line of shops on the West Side, merrily illuminated.

Disney Springs is a retail mecca, a strip mall done Disney-style. The highest concentration of shopswith predominately Disney-themed merchandiseis in the Disney Springs Marketplace, the eastern part of Disney Springs. The rest of Disney Springs has fewer shops, with more specialty retailers and a lot fewer mouse ears.

For shops without direct phone numbers, you can call Guest Relations at +1 407 828-3150. Press '3' and tell the operator which store you wish to contact.

Marketplace

Marketplace shops open at 9:30AM and close at 11PM (11:30PM Friday and Saturday).

The Marketplace is anchored by the 50,000-square-foot (4,500-square-meter) World of Disney:

If that doesn't suit your fancy, try out these other shops:

The Landing and West Side

Stores at The Landing and on the West Side open at 10 or 10:30AM and close at 11PM (midnight Friday and Saturday nights).

You won't find a lot of items with Mickey or Donald on them in these stores; they tend to be independent businesses that are nothing more than Disney's tenants. In truth, that's part of their appeal. Plus, these are specialty retailers of the likes you probably won't find back home, so shop away!

Eat

Disney Springs is Disney World's largest dining destination, and while it is geared primarily towards adults, all of the restaurants are family-friendly (at least before nightfall). You won't find many "generic" restaurants here; each one has a distinct hook or drawing card that brings in the crowds. If you run out of time to try them all, well, now you have something to look forward to on your next visit, right?

See Eat in the main Walt Disney World article for information on the Disney restaurant pricing system, character dining, dietary restrictions, and advance dining reservations. The telephone numbers below are for extraordinary circumstances only; for reservations and most health or diet issues, call the main Disney Dining number at +1 407 WDW-DINE (939-3463).

Although most of these restaurants are run by outside companies, they all now accept the Disney Dining Plan. Wolfgang Puck's The Dining Room, Fulton's Crab House, and The Boathouse are Signature Restaurants and require two table-service credits; the other table-service restaurants require only one.

Marketplace

The Disney Springs Marketplace is where you'll find the kid-friendliest food options; the restaurants close earlier so they don't have as many late-night entertainment options. Marketplace restaurants are open from 9AM to 11PM daily.

The Landing

Pleasure Island's nightclubs are a thing of the past, but The Landing is now home to some very good restaurants. They're not really themed at all, but they're well worth checking out if you're in the mood for high-quality food without loud musicor loud dinosaursinterrupting your meal.

West Side

The West Side is the home of the celebrity restaurant. Movie stars, comedians, singers, and even a celebrity chef have all created venues here that reflect their own personalities and proclivities. West Side restaurants are open from 11AM to midnight daily.

Food trucks

Disney's dipping their toe into the food truck phenomenon. They've constructed a Food Truck Park on the West Side near Bongos Cuban Cafe. There are four Disney food trucks, each one representing one of the four theme parks, but since they're mobile they may or may not be present on any given day. Non-Disney trucks may also be found on occasion, especially if one of the Disney trucks is elsewhere. The trucks serve food daily, opening between 1PM and 5PM (depending on crowd levels) and closing at 11PM. For the four Disney food trucks, entrees cost $815, or you can use a quick-service credit from the Dining Plan.

Snacks and sweets

There are several food locations at Disney Springs that don't really qualify as restaurants, but a couple are of particular note:

Resort dining

All restaurants at Disney resorts accept the Dining Plan.

Disney's Port Orleans Resort

Port Orleans Riverside and Port Orleans French Quarter used to be two separate resorts, so they each have their own food courts for quick counter-service dining. They share a table-service location, though:

Disney's Old Key West Resort

Goods To Go is your standard basic counter-service location with burgers and chicken nuggets and not a whole lot else. For more substantial fare:

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort

Artist's Palette serves hot sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads from a counter. For table-service:

Typhoon Lagoon

Drink

Find the luck of the Irishand the Guinness of the Irishat Raglan Road at The Landing.

Several years ago, this section would have been chock full of unique late-night venues, with comedy, music both modern and classic, and even (briefly) rollerskating. Now, the nightclubs are gone (though you can find a couple over at Disney's BoardWalk: Jellyrolls and Atlantic Dance Hall), but you still have some options if you're looking for nightlife.

Keep in mind that many of Disney Springs' restaurants have full bars, letting you belly up for a drink without waiting for a table. Chief among them is Raglan Road, The Landing's Irish pub. Between pints of Guinness, you may catch some live music on selected nights.

On the other hand, if you're really in the mood to rock the night away, head over to the House of Blues on the West Side. They've got live music every night, though you'll have to pay extra to catch the best shows in their main hall. And if all you want to do is get your groove on, your best bet is Bongos Cuban Cafe; the music is deejayed but the dance floor is ready and waiting.

Of course, don't forget Splitsville's bowling lanes, the AMC Disney Springs 24 movie theater, or the incredible La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil, all of which keep guests entertained well into the night.

Resorts

The resorts all have pool bars available with a small selection of refreshments. In addition:

Sleep

One of the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs.
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget $0-$150
Mid-range $150-$250
Splurge $250+

There is a full range of hotel options near Disney Springs, unless you're looking for a Disney Value Resort like Pop Century. The low-end options in this area are non-Disney hotels with none of the theming or amenities provided to Disney resort guests. The Moderate and Deluxe resorts, however, are Disney through-and-through, and possibly the most scenic and most tranquil resorts on the entire property.

The price you pay for tranquility, however, is remoteness; with the exception of Disney Springs itself, the parks are all a fair distance away by bus or car, with no monorail or boat transportation available. If this doesn't trouble you, however, it's hard to go wrong with any of these resorts.

Budget

The Downtown Disney Hotel Plaza, located adjacent to the Marketplace, is made up of seven franchised or independent hotels. These are fairly generic hotels that lack most, if not all, of the theming and amenities of their Disney-owned counterparts. They are, however, ideal for guests who are on a tight budget or who prefer a more traditional hotel experience. The Best Western, Buena Vista Palace, Doubletree, Hilton, and Wyndham have car rental kiosks in their lobbies.

Mid-range

A pair of "Moderate" resorts lie at the northern end of the Sassagoula River (with boat access to Disney Springs). Between the two of them, they cover all of the iconic aspects of Southern living, from the Mississippi bayou, to massive plantation mansions, to the lively French Quarter of New Orleans. Rooms at these resorts are smallish but adequate, with basic amenities and exterior entrances.

Splurge

The Deluxe resorts near Disney Springs are both dedicated Disney Vacation Club resorts, which means there are no basic hotel rooms. The smallest villas are studios, which have a kitchenette but no separate living room. It also means that DVC members get first crack at the entirety of both resorts, but they're both so large, especially Saratoga Springs, that you shouldn't have any problem getting a room.

At both resorts, you'll find a full array of amenities and recreation, including boating, tennis, basketball, playgrounds, and of course swimming pools. There are also special activities that vary each day; you'll get a full schedule at check-in. Both resorts also have general stores for stocking their villas' kitchens; prices are high and selection is poor, but they're awfully convenient.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.