Springs have Sprung at New Disney Springs
The new Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex along the banks of Village Lake that has seen a major overhaul in the past three years. As Disney puts the finishing touches on the four distinct areas, let’s explore this complex that, upon completion, will have twice as many locations for guests to enjoy—and places to part with their money.
On the east side, the original shopping area known as The Marketplace is where you’ll find most of the Disney-owned stores and the kid-friendly restaurants Rainforest Cafe and T-REX. The Marketplace is also home to a totally revamped shopping experience, Marketplace Co-Op, and the new Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
The LEGO store and Brickley the giant LEGO dragon are still standing strong; fear not, Ghiradelli’s and The Earl of Sandwich were not put on the chopping block either. There is a pathway to walk to Saratoga Springs, a new bridge to walk to the hotels on Plaza Boulevard, and boat service to The Westside. Officially in The Marketplace section but just around the corner from Town Center is the The Daily Poutine kiosk. At $8.49 plus tax, these french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (other toppings are available) are way overpriced.
Another food kiosk is B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co. Try the The 3 Little Pigs Sampler, which comes with a Reuben Sausage, a Bacon-wrapped with Black Bean Salsa Sausage, and a Chili-Cheese Sausage. At $10.39 plus tax, this is a tasty, satisfying, good deal. The food kiosks all over Disney Springs have one thing in common, and that is the lack of adequate seating, something we hope Disney will remedy soon.
The Landing has seen the most reimagining, with new shopping and dining areas. Here you find The BOATHOUSE, an upscale waterfront seafood eatery complete with a launch dock for vintage amphicars.
Amphicar tours come with a $125 price tag, which includes your own Car Captain and seating for up to three. At seven knots an hour, you putter for 25 minutes on Village Lake. Seeing is believing!
Morimoto Asia offers Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s take on dishes from Japan, China, South Korea, and Thailand. The décor and ambiance is hip without being overkill, and the food is delicious and presented in a refined way. Try the Morimoto Peking Duck ($27 per person with a minimum order of two guests), served with two dipping sauces (hoisin miso and apricot sweet chili) and soft, thin flour tortillas. Morimoto Asia is reasonably priced considering the upscale setting.
For the sweet tooth there is The Ganachery and Vivoli il Gelato, and an absolute must is drinks at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. The bar, named after a character from Indiana Jones, looks like a 1930s-era airplane hangar. The theming is simply amazing and a must-see. If you like the indoor seating, you will love the back porch. The outdoor seating area is perfect for enjoying a drink and the sunset over Village Lake. Try a Shorty’s Singapore Sling or the Cool-headed Monkey. If having a steak in a lounge with a DJ is your thing, you can have it at STK Orlando. At Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine, the Church Lady Deviled Eggs will give you a whole new appreciation of this Southern favorite.
Raglan Road is still a staple at the Landing. Fulton’s Crab House underwent a major refurbishment and is now called Paddlefish, featuring a modern yachting theme, as well as a rooftop lounge. There is also plenty of shopping such as Erwin Pearl, APEX by Sunglass Hut, and The Art of Shaving. If you are in the market for a hat to be worthy of a visit to the Kentucky Derby, then you should visit Chapel Hat.
Town Center is beautiful, but there is no denying that it’s a shopping mall—an upscale one, that is. Here you’ll find retail establishments such as Under Armour, Tommy Bahama, Vera Bradley, Sephora, L’Occitane en Provence, LACOSTE, Zara, UNIQLO, Kippling, and Anthropology, just to name a few.
Absolutely welcoming and beautiful is the new Guest Services, complete with a porch and rocking chairs. And there are, of course, the Disney-created springs that wind through most of Town Center.
The springs are really pretty, offering quite spectacular views at night, with lights flickering in the trees, floating lanterns, and colorful bursts of water. The new Lime Garage delivers guests directly into Town Center.
No shopping mall would be complete without food, and there is plenty of it available at Town Center. D-Luxe Burger offers classic and gourmet variations of the all-time American favorite. Also enjoy D-Luxe Burger’s fries with a variety of dipping sauces (Garlic Ranch, Horseradish, Chipotle Mayo, 3 Mustard and Honey, Buffalo Blue Cheese, and Curry Ketchup) and the ample indoor and outdoor seating.
For a quick bite try Morimoto Asia Street Food. The Aristocrepes kiosks offers four hearty options (beef, salmon, turkey, and veggie crepes) and four sweet versions (strawberry, Key lime, banana, and s’mores crepes.) If you are looking for an overpriced cupcake, go for Sprinkles, where the line to use the cupcake ATM is insane at times and the product does not live up to the hype.
Real good stuff, albeit expensive, is to be had at Ammorette’s Patisserie. If you want to splurge, we definitively recommend you get Ammorette’s Petit Cake ($15). This miniature version of the patisserie’s signature cake is made out of layers of red velvet cake, chocolate cake, cherry mousse, chocolate mousse, raspberry fruit jelly and Italian buttercream. But any mini-cake will be a delight.
The notable table service restaurants are Frontera Cocina and The Observatory, the revamped Planet Hollywood.
The West Side has seen the least change. It is home to Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, the AMC cinema, and many retailers. Table service dining is available at Splitsville, a mixture of restaurant and bowling alley, Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, and Bongos Cuban Cafe.
Joining the club in early 2017 is The Edison, an industrial Gothic-style restaurant, bar, and nighttime destination inspired by its sister location, which can be found in Los Angeles. The West Side is also home to the Orange Garage.
As for DisneyQuest, it lives on for now, as the NBA-themed experience that was set to replace DisneyQuest has backed out of its deal.
New Disney Springs Transportation and Parking
The best way to get to Disney Springs is by Disney transportation. Free bus service is available from every Disney Resort to the new transportation hub at Town Center. There is water taxi service to the West Side from Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, and Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts, in addition to water taxi service between The Marketplace, The Landing, and the West Side dock.
The Marketplace also has a pathway to walk to Saratoga Springs and a new bridge to walk to the hotels on Plaza Boulevard.
The Orange and Lime parking garages have signs that alert guests to how many spots are available on each floor, and once inside there are signs showing how many spots are open in each row. There are elevators and escalators available in both garages. Buses to non-Disney resorts are parking in the West Side near the Strawberry parking lot and the taxi station.
For all there is to see and do at Disney Springs, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.