Today we are going to take a walk around one of our favorite non-park aspects of a WDW vacation: Disney Springs. Formally known as Downtown Disney, the company announced a huge overhaul of the area which began back in 2013. The overhaul would include improved dining and entertainment options, as well as a slew of new stores.
We weren’t huge fans of Downtown Disney. The dining was sub-par and the shops weren’t enough to justify taking time out of our vacation to visit. We also were not fans of Disney Quest, which was the main reason many folks headed to the west side of the complex.
While some of the dining options carried over from DTD, the conversion to the Springs brought us several great restaurants, many of which are among the best on Disney property. The Boathouse, Morimoto Asia and Homecoming are some of our very favorite options in all of WDW. There are lots of other really good options as well… Wine Bar George, Frontera Cocina, Maria & Enzo’s… and the list goes on from there.
Several new quality quick services opened as well. Deluxe Burger, The Polite Pig and (surprisingly) Chicken Guy, are all really good. Blaze Pizza is way better than any quick service Disney pizza you would find on property as well. We enjoy it quite a bit but have one about 10 minutes from our house so we typically don’t eat there while on vacation.
Of the holdovers from DTD, Raglan Road and T-Rex are both solid options. We aren’t fans of Rainforest Cafe, House of Blues or Planet Hollywood, but your mileage may vary.
The transition to Disney Springs also introduced some great nightlife options to guests. The Edison after 10 pm is one of our favorite experiences outside the parks, featuring lots of great entertainment, a unique setting and a solid drink menu. We still miss Pleasure Island tremendously but its nice to have another great, albeit very different, option after the sun goes down. There is also ton’s of live music, much of which can just be enjoyed by walking around the district.
One thing we still don’t do much of at Disney Springs is shopping. World of Disney just has all the same things you can find in the parks and the real world stores don’t appeal to us much on vacation. One store we always like to check out however, is Uniqlo. These stores can be found all over the country, however this particular one often has some really cool Disney merchandiser, often at crazy low prices!
I got this jacket on sale for $9.99 on a cool night where I didn’t prepare properly. That’s tough to beat.
Disney Springs also features our favorite bakery on property: Amorettes. The shop features table service quality desserts at reasonable prices; all with great Disney touches.
We could go on and on about things we enjoy about Disney Springs, but for now let’s just take a walk around the district.
We always start by parking at the Lime Garage! We explain in this post here, why we are team Lime for life!
We’ll have a Paddlefish review coming soon… we’ve had mixed results there the past few visits.
The third floor deck provides some fantastic views of the Springs though.
The amphicars are super cool to watch, but too rich for our blood.
The man-made Springs themselves are quite lovely, with a gorgeous blue color and some unique shapes. Frontera Cocina and Homecoming both have some really lovely seating along the edge of the springs.
Below is the main town center where the Disney buses drop you off.
We have yet to dine at Wolfgang Puck’s new restaurant. It seems much like the old one… good food but a rather bland atmosphere.
Here we see the Orange garage off to the left. As you can see, it would be convenient for visiting the west side, especially the AMC theater. We really have very little reason to visit the west side ourselves however. We never go to the movies while on vacation.
The food trucks can be a nice quick option for lunch. They are all fairly high quality. Ironically, the best food truck isn’t located here with the rest of them. The 4 Rivers Food truck is really great, but its located in the Marketplace area.
Jaleo recently opened with its small portions with huge prices. We’ve heard all good things about the quality of the food but the value just isn’t there in our opinion.
I like this quiet path along the water. It provides a nice view of Saratoga Springs Resort across the water.
Characters in Flight is another popular experience. The hot air balloon goes up regularly throughout the day, however its tethered and doesn’t go very high. That combined with its steep pricing has deterred us from ever doing it.
Overall, we are big fans of Disney Springs. In addition to the great dining, its just a pleasant place to walk around. If possible, visit during a weekday to avoid the heavy weekend crowds. Going on a Friday or Saturday evening can be fun too with a the vast amount of live entertainment all around, but expect heavy crowds if thats when you choose to visit!
If you are taking a day off from the parks (or even a half day), Disney Springs can be a great option for a nice stroll and a good meal! Buses travel directly from the parks daily after 4 pm, or self parking is always free if you have a car. Just make sure to park in the Lime garage ;-D.