Our Guide to Disney Springs provides all the essential information to plan your day visiting the Walt Disney World shopping, dining and entertainment paradise.
Guide to Disney Springs History
The story of Disney Springs begins at our new Town Center, which is oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area. From there, the town grew to encompass three more neighbourhoods.
The above quote is the fictional history of Disney Springs. However, the area has its very own history including several significant changes over the years.
Previously known as Downtown Disney the conversion to Disney Springs was completed in Spring 2016. Originally opening in 1975, Disney Springs now consists of over 150 stores, restaurants and entertainment locations. To get to where we are today Disney Springs has undergone several name changes and redesigns:
- 1975 – Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened featuring clusters of boutique and handicraft merchandise shops.
- 1977 – A significant retheming changed the area into Walt Disney World Village.
- 1989 – Name changed to Disney Village Marketplace and Pleasure Island area opened. Pleasure Island was a collection of clubs to compete with the popular Church Street Station. Pleasure Island closed in 2008.
- 1997 – Name changed to Downtown Disney. A 3rd area opened called West Side. West Side increased the number of dining and family entertainment options available.
In 2013 Disney announced a major transformation of Downtown Disney which would be renamed, Disney Springs. New construction included the building of 2 new parking structures, a new bus station, widening of Buena Vista Drive, significant new mall space & several new bridges.
Disney Springs Today
The modern-day Disney Springs is a free to enter, Shopping and Dining area. Disney Springs is an area the whole family can enjoy. Unlike the old Pleasure Island, there are no areas which are adult only.
Disney Springs is split into several neighbourhoods each with a distinct feel. The neighbourhoods are:
- Town Center depicts the fictional town’s central business district, featuring Spanish Revival architecture from the 1920s. The area opened in 2016 and features many well-known retailers.
- The Landing depicts the fictional town’s transportation hub and marina. The area features nautical-themed restaurants and shops. The landing was the former site of Pleasure Island which closed in 2008.
- West Side was developed in the 1950s according to the town’s fictional history. West Side was originally part of Downtown Disney and now features several popular restaurants plus a bowling alley and movie theatre. The NBA Experience is opening in 2019 on the site of the former Disney Quest.
- Marketplace houses many shops and restaurants reminiscent of the American Craftsman-style of the 1930s. The Marketplace previously used to be part of Downtown Disney.
Things to Do
Disney Springs has increased the variety of restaurants available at Walt Disney World. From upscale to family there is something for everyone. The majority of restaurants accept the Disney Dining Plan. Many of the restaurants offer entertainment and have waterfront views.
Click here for an up to date list of dining venues.
Disney Springs has become a shopper’s paradise especially for those who like their shopping with a Disney Theme! There are shopping options throughout Disney Springs but the Town Center is home to many of the most well-known names & boutique shops.
You can find a list of current shops here.
Unlike Downtown Disney, Disney Springs entertainment is a family affair.
From street entertainers to live music on the Marketplace Stage, there is something for everyone. Guests might particularly enjoy:
- The Classic Carousel
- STAR WARSTM: SECRETS OF THE EMPIRE
- AMC Disney Springs Cinema
- Bowling Alley
You can find more entertainment options here.
Disney Springs Tips
These are our Top Tips to have a great time at Disney Springs:
Visit Day & Night.
Disney Springs has a different feel at different times of the day. Make sure you have both a day and night visit if you have enough time.
Take a raincoat
Disney Springs is not an inside mall. make sure you are prepared for the rain.
Book a restaurant.
Most restaurants can be booked in advance. Don’t miss out!
Leave in plenty of time
Traffic can get very busy at Disney Springs. If you have made a reservation leave in plenty of time.
Not everything can be bought elsewhere
Disney Springs has a lot of unique merchandise. Do not expect you will find everything later in a theme park. Make sure you either buy it or leave time to return later in your vacation.
Getting to Disney Springs
Disney Springs is open every day and has no admission fee and includes free parking. There are some areas designated as preferred parking which costs $10
Valet parking is available and costs $20 plus gratuity.
Designated parking spaces for Guests with disabilities are available. A valid disability parking permit is required.
Bus transportation is available from all Walt Disney World resorts.
In addition, there are water-taxis running to Disney Springs from Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside, Old Key West & Saratoga Springs Resorts. Arrival docks are located at the Marketplace and The Landing neighbourhoods.
From Saratoga Springs a pedestrian bridge is available which goes directly to the Marketplace.
From Theme Parks
You can catch a bus to Disney Springs from the theme parks every day after 4 pm. However, to prevent guests from taking advantage of free parking these are only available 1 way.
Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels
There are 7 non-Disney Disney Springs Resort Areas Hotels. These hotels offer several resort advantages and can usually be slightly cheaper than booking an official Disney Resort. The 7 hotels are:
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Lake Buena Vista
- B Resort & Spa
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel
- Buena Vista Palace Resort & Spa
- Holiday Inn – Orlando Lake Buena Vista
Our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners is a great starting place to plan any Walt Disney World Vacation. The information will be useful for both first-time and repeat visitors.
We have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which might help your vacation planning.