Disney Springs has become a destination for your Walt Disney World vacation—almost as much as a theme park (but not quite). The nice thing about Disney Springs is that there is no admission cost or parking fee so it makes a great place to go on a day off from the parks, or on your arrival or departure day. There are so many delicious restaurants, fantastic shops, and entertainment options you will want to plan to spend some time there, but the atmosphere and “energy” of the area itself is appealing as well. Here are 10 of my favorite tips for visiting Disney Springs:
I happen to love the new parking garages at Disney Springs. They are easy to access and you can see as you enter how many spaces are available on each level, then on each row and there are lights above each space to tell you where one is available. No more driving up & down trying to find a spot. So, if you have a car I would recommend driving to Disney Springs unless you are traveling during a really high traffic time of year and time of day (or if you are going to enjoy the bars & lounges). The tip is to take a photo of your level & row so that after a long round of shopping and eating you’ll know exactly where to go. The Orange Garage brings you into the West Side area near the AMC Theater and Splitsville; the Lime Garage comes in at the shopping area close to Uniqlo and not far from the World of Disney.
One of the best things about Disney Springs is the atmosphere. It sets it apart from just going shopping at any mall or outlet center. So, plan to spend some time walking around and taking that in. Year round you will find live entertainment throughout the area including musicians and other fun things like live statues. During the holidays they step it up a notch as well. Aside from the entertainment there are other fun “free” things to do like playing with the Legos outside the Lego Store (warning this could cause you to have to buy Legos inside), watch the balloon go up, and watch the amphicars cruising around the lake. And Disney Springs is really a beautiful area. The architecture is very pretty and I love the “Springs” they created.
Even if you are not a shopper there is a lot to offer at Disney Springs. One of our favorite rainy day activities (or even break day) is to go bowling at Splitsville—so much fun. The AMC theater here has one of the dining & movie experiences in a great facility. Cirque du Soleil has an exciting show, “La Nouba” that has amazing acrobatics. You could take a ride in the tethered Characters in Flight balloon. Or you could have a driver take you out on the lake in one of the fun retro Amphicars from the Boathouse.
7. Package Delivery
If you are a serious shopper ask about package delivery. This option may be available from some of the stores to your onsite Walt Disney World resort for no charge (you just have to be staying for a couple of days longer/can’t be checking out the next day). And many will ship your purchases back home to you if you do not want to worry with them on vacation or on the plane returning home (there will be a charge for this).
6. Disney Shopping
Some of the best Disney shopping is found at Disney Springs. Although I love the resort specific and attraction specific items if you are looking for general Disney merchandise you can’t beat World of Disney. Everything under one roof so that you can browse and make your selections of the best souvenirs for your trip. The Once Upon a Toy shop has a great selection of toy items and a nice Star Wars specific section for shopping. There is a HUGE location for pins at the Pin Traders. And Disney’s Days of Christmas has just about every ornament and Christmas decoration you could want. If you are looking for more unique Disney merchandise Tren-D is a great place for women’s clothing. The Marketplace Co-Op is my favorite place with various sections that can change but currently have women’s accessories, men’s clothing, Disney Cruise Line merchandise, travel gear, art and electronics accessories. Extra tip here: Bring an alternative form of payment, not just your Magic Band. Although the Disney Stores take Magic Bands not all stores do . . .and sometimes the system is down and they can’t use Magic Bands for payment).
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Who doesn’t love a good discount?? Many of the stores and restaurants at Disney Springs accept a variety of discounts, so be sure to ask when you check out if they do. You can find discounts for Disney Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, Disney Visa Cardholders, AAA, and if you booked a Walt Disney World vacation package you will have some discounts to use at Disney Springs in your travel documents packet (it is a card to bring with you). Also ask if that merchant or restaurant has a loyalty club or other discount program that might benefit you.
4. Dining Reservations
If you are looking for reservations at Disney Springs eateries and are having trouble through the Disney system don’t give up hope! Some of the locations you can call directly (like T. Rex & Rainforest Café) to get a reservation, and others are available through Open Table (like Morimoto Asia and Boathouse). So, try some alternative methods for the restaurants here if you aren’t able to make them through Disney. If you still can’t get the reservation you want there are some amazing quick service restaurants here too!
3. Cheap Eats
Going along with number 4, I think some of the best dining values if you are paying out of pocket are at Disney Springs. The top 2 that come to mind are Earl of Sandwich and Blaze Pizza. Both offer very good food at a low price (more money to spend in the shops). Wolfgang Puck Express is another good option, but my current favorite is Blaze . . .yum!
2. Have a Progressive Dinner
There are so many really good and fun places to eat at Disney Springs it is hard to narrow it down to one place you want to have dinner. So don’t! You could start off at a lounge like Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar for some drinks before dinner and maybe an appetizer (or perhaps another restaurant for appetizers). Then pick a restaurant for dinner with great entrees and service (my current favorites for sit down are Art Smith’s Homecoming, The Boathouse and Morimoto Asia). Then finish off with dessert at one of the quick service bakeries like Sprinkles or Amorette’s. Chocolate at the Ganachery or Ghirardelli. And if you are still looking for more you could top it off with coffee (maybe Starbucks).
1. Go in the Morning
My number 1 tip. Of course, this doesn’t work if you are looking for the dinner experience, but if you are shopping the morning is definitely the least crowded time to go. Personally, my favorite scenario is to go in the morning & shop. Then have lunch at a great restaurant. Hit Splitsville for bowling. Then go back to my resort to rest or swim before going to a theme park for atmosphere and fireworks. This avoids the crowds walking around as well as the lines in the stores.
Do you love Disney Springs? What are your favorite tips?