Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening of shopping, dining, or kicking back and enjoying some entertainment. And with the massive renovations and additions at Disney Springs, there’s no better place to find unique gifts and fun experiences for the whole family! But Disney Springs can be overwhelming for the uninitiated, and it’s easy to make common mistakes that will prevent you from enjoying Disney Springs to the fullest. So, here are some common mistakes guests often make at Disney Springs – and how you can avoid them on your next Disney vacation.
10. Weather Woes
As much as we love Disney Springs, it can be less than fun to be caught in a rainstorm there, because it is an outdoor mall. So, check the weather ahead of time or just bring an umbrella and poncho in case of inclement weather. And keep in mind that on hot summer days, you’ll want plenty of sun protection, as (aside from hiding out in air conditioned stores) there’s not much escape from the heat and sun here. If you’re prepared for the weather, you’ll be able to continue your shopping and exploration regardless of what Florida hits you with!
9. Forgetting the Freebies
We are always delighted at the numerous freebies that can be enjoyed at Disney Springs. You definitely don’t need to head for the high-end shops to have fun here! Even if you’re not planning on buying one of their mouth-watering concoctions, stop in at Ghirardelli for a delicious free chocolate sample. Or let the kids (or kids at heart) loose in the Lego Store, where they can build their own creations for free, and take a look at some pretty amazing Disney scenes made of Lego. Kids can also dig for dinosaur Bones at T-REX for free. And don’t forget the free street entertainment you’ll find throughout Disney Springs! It’s possible to enjoy an afternoon or evening at Disney Springs without paying a dime.
8. Not Planning Around Entertainment
There’s a lot to do at Disney Springs, including taking in some entertainment! So, if you’re going to see a movie at AMC Disney Springs, or if you have plans to see a concert at The House of Blues, make sure you plan your day around this event. Make sure your dining reservations leave you with enough time to make it to the event, and plan to hit any stores on your list before the event, so you won’t be disappointed if they’re closed afterwards.
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7. Failing to Make Reservations
Like anywhere else in Walt Disney World, you’ll want to make dining reservations as far in advance as you can, especially for the most popular Disney Springs restaurants. If you show up and try to get into a coveted restaurant, especially at peak dining times, you’re bound to be disappointed. At the same time, occasionally people do cancel at the last minute, so if you find yourself at Disney Springs without reservations, it doesn’t hurt to try! You can also aim for off-peak dining hours (for example, try having dinner after 9 pm) to increase your chances.
6. Skipping Dessert
One of the worst rookie mistakes to make in Disney Springs is filling up during your dining reservations, and not saving room for the many delectable dessert offerings you’ll find here! For out-of-this-world sundaes and hot chocolate, head to Ghirardelli. If cupcakes and frosting shots (yes, that would be shots of frosting!) are more your style, don’t miss Sprinkles (or try Erin McKenna’s Bakery for delicious gluten-free, vegan equivalents). The Ganachery has absolutely everything for the chocolate lover, and you’ll find the best gelato outside of Italy at Vivoli Il Gelato. So, whatever you do, leave room for dessert!
5. Leaving the Kids at Home
Don’t assume that Disney Springs is just a glorified shopping mall and your kids will be bored! There’s a ton of stuff for your kids to see and do on a side trip to Disney Springs. As mentioned above, a lot of it is even free! In addition to the Lego Store and paleontology fun at T-REX, there’s a fun splash pad located near Goofy’s Candy Co. (assume that your kids will be drenched here!) for hot days. There’s a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique outlet here for any kids who are looking for a royal transformation, and there’s always the Marketplace Carousel to enjoy a spin on. And don’t forget Once Upon a Toy, which can keep kids busy for hours (plus, they can create their own Mr. Potato Head creation here without having to buy a thing).
4. Transportation Troubles
One mistake people often make is not being aware of all the transportation options to Disney Springs. We love staying at Walt Disney World resorts with boat transportation, but bus transportation is also an option. Now that bus transportation to Disney Springs is available from all theme parks after 4 pm, you can spend a day in the parks and then head directly to Disney Springs for some evening fun. Just be aware that this is one-way service, and stops at 11 pm, or 2 hours after park close, whichever happens first! And those buses can get pretty crowded. If you find yourself facing long bus lines to Disney Springs from a theme park, try taking a bus to Sarasota Springs (the closest resort to Disney Springs) and then just walking the rest of the way (it takes about 5 minutes).
3. Omitting Orientation
Disney Springs is a big place. And it can be confusing, even to guests who have been here before. So it’s really important – especially if you have dining reservations or tickets for entertainment – to know where you’re going! Otherwise, you can spend a lot of time walking around getting lost (trust us). Take a look at the layout of Disney Springs online before you go, and make sure you use the maps you’ll find upon arriving there (or talk to one of the helpful cast members on site) – they can be invaluable. This way, you’ll be familiar with all of the pedestrian bridges and paths, plus the boat routes, bus stops and parking spots – and you’ll save your legs AND make your reservation!
2. Paying – and Waiting – More Than Necessary
One of the most unique experiences available at Disney Springs is taking a ride on the giant Aerophile helium balloon. The 10-minute ride takes guests 400 feet into the air, for panoramic views of Walt Disney World! If this is on your to-do list, make sure you arrive early in the morning. Not only are lines much shorter then, but they’ve been known to run an Early Bird Special, which allows all guests, regardless of age, to ride for only $10 before 10 am. Normal pricing is $20 per person for adults, and $15 for children (ages 3-8).
1. Sticking to the Well-Trodden Path
While there are likely many stores here that you’ll recognize from back home, it’s best to skip these in favor of shops you won’t see in your everyday life. Make time to find some truly unique souvenirs for yourself, and maybe even gifts for loved ones back home. One of our favorite spots is Disney Springs’ Wonderful World of Memories, where you can create your very own one-of-a-kind ears hat, with a dizzying array of options, including snap-on ears, monogramming and stickers. You can also purchase and personalize your favorite Disney-themed Christmas ornament at Days of Christmas – we did this several years ago, and every Christmas, our personalized Mickey Ears ornament brings a smile to our faces as we remember Walt Disney World vacations past!