Hello everyone! I come to you today with another entry in my Disney World 101 Series – Disney Springs! Now, Disney Springs is a MASSIVE food, dining, and entertainment district at Walt Disney World. So, unlike my other entries where I document each and every food stand and entertainment venue at the parks, I’ll simply be summarizing each area of the Springs. If I gave a breakdown of EVERY restaurant and shop, we’d be here until 2021! I will highlight some of my favorite stops, however, so you can have a guideline on where to start.
So without further ado, let’s jump right in to Disney World 101 – Disney Springs!
**this post contains affiliate links! This means I may receive financial compensation for my recommendations. Please see my disclaimer for more information!**
What Is Disney Springs?
Disney Springs, previously known as Downtown Disney until a few years ago, is a vast array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment offerings at the Walt Disney World resort. It is not affiliated with any of the parks, and has a variety of fun and unique experiences no matter what age you are! It’s a nice break from the craziness of the parks, and perfect for people who are looking for a more adult aspect of Walt Disney World.
This particular area of the Walt Disney World resort has undergone some significant changes in the past few years. However, it is still definitely worth a visit, even just to window shop!
How Do I Get There?
Just like the Disney theme parks, bus transportation to Disney Springs is available from all resorts. Additionally, some of the resorts that are nearby have walking paths or water transportation to take you to the Springs. For locals or for those who have rented a car, there’s numerous parking garages around the area if you’d prefer to drive – especially good if you want to park near a specific shop or restaurant. Finally, because Disney Springs is so vast, there is a boat that takes you from one end of the complex to the other so you don’t have to walk.
The first area of the Springs we will look in to is the Marketplace. As one may expect from the name, a number of shops and dining options are available in this part of the complex. This is where you can find some of the best shopping at Walt Disney World resort, including the massive World of Disney. If you’re looking for a specific Disney souvenir, there’s a good chance it’ll be here! The LEGO store, Goofy’s Candy Company and more can also be found in this area. As far as must do dining, you’ll find the highly revered Earl of Sandwich and T-Rex Cafe in this section. The T-Rex Cafe is especially fun for young kids who want something different than the Rainforest Cafe down the way.
Many older Disney fans remember this area of Disney Springs as “Pleasure Island”. It used to be the area for bars and nightclubs – and escape for adults when they needed a break from the kids and the parks. Whereas the Marketplace is all about shopping and Disney charm, the Landing is all about nautical sea themes with good food and drink. One of my favorite bars, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, is located with a fantastic view of the lagoon near The Boathouse, where you can get water tours of the lagoon. It’s themed after Indiana Jones’ trusty pilot friend Jock – you’ll remember him from the first movie (“Start the plane, Jock!”). Another great dining option to check out is Raglan Road Irish Pub. We tried it for the first time on our last trip and absolutely LOVED it. Check out the first entry into my Disney World 2019 vlog series below to see some of the amazing Irish step dancing featured at this restaurant!
While at The Landing, you simply can’t miss the Empress Lilly, the giant paddle boat named after Walt’s wife, overlooking the lagoon. On the boat you’ll find the Paddlefish restaurant. It’s an excellent seafood dining option, although beware if you’re using the Dining Plan. This option costs TWO table service credits!
If you’re here for the shopping, THIS is the place you need to be at Disney Springs. The Town Center section of the Springs is where you’ll find all the shops you need to satisfy your inner fashionista. Sephora, Kate Spade, Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer are just a few of the high fashion stores you’ll find scatter amongst the Spanish themed architecture of this area. My personal favorite? It’s not even a store at all! I always need to stop by Sprinkles, the premium cupcake shop that is one of the first stores to greet you after crossing over from The Landing. Be forewarned that there aren’t many dining options in this section. The main focus is the shopping!
Looking for entertainment? You’ll find it at Disney Springs’ West Side! This part of the Springs focuses more on the experiences and unique dining experiences you can only find at Walt Disney World. First up is Planet Hollywood and the House of Blues. Already famous around the world in their own right, these restaurants are perfect for grabbing a bite to eat while immersing yourself in their fantastic theming. If you’re looking to get active and feel what it’s like to be a professional athlete, the new NBA Experience is something you should definitely check out. It hasn’t gotten GREAT reviews from the locals, but check it out for yourself if you’re in to professional sports.
Cirque du Soleil will be premiering a NEW Disney themed show in this area of the Springs this year. If you’ve never seen a Cirque du Soleil show – just GO. I promise you’ll be entertained! Each show is different and this one premiering at the Springs is no different. It combines acrobatics, French circus performers, and Disney animation. It’s a show you’ll definitely regret missing out on!
Finally, Splitsville Lanes is a great night out for kids and adults alike. Bowling is always fun, and add in fantastic food, and you’ve got a party! If you’re dying to catch the latest Disney release, AMC theaters also has a theater in the West Side to satisfy all movie buffs.
Time to Shop!
Now that you know what each part of Disney Springs is about, you can plan your night out! For a complete break down of all dining and entertainment options at Disney Springs, check out my favorite Disney vacation planning guide! The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World literally lists every restaurant and entertainment venue in the Springs. This will help you determine what you want to try and what places you have to scope out!
Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter! You’ll receive my FREE WDW Planning Checklist as a thank you when you do!
What is your favorite part of Disney Springs? Let me know in the comments below!