Our Guide to Disney Springs provides all the essential information to plan your day visiting the Walt Disney World shopping, dining and entertainment paradise. The complex originally opened in 1975 and has been expanded and altered on several occasions. It was renamed Disney Springs after a 3-year renovation in 2015.
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 the 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 an extensive shopping, entertainment and dining
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.
- Marketplace houses many popular shops and restaurants reminiscent of the American Craftsman-style of the 1930s. The Marketplace previously used to be part of Downtown Disney.
- 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 summer 2019 on the site of the former Disney Quest.
Things to do at Disney Springs
Disney Springs has increased the variety of restaurants available at Walt Disney World. Currently, there are over 60 locations serving food or drink. From upscale dining to family eateries there is something for everyone.
The majority of restaurants accept the Disney Dining Plan. Many of the restaurants at Disney Springs 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 the former 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 at Splitsville Luxury Lanes
- Vintage Amphicar
You can find out abut more entertainment options at Disney Springs here.
New at Disney Springs in 2019
Disney Springs is constantly changing and new shops, restaurants and entertainment options are opening throughout 2019. 2019 highlights include:
- Jaleo by José Andrés
- An updated Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
- The NBA Experience.
You can catch up with all the latest news from Disney Springs here.
Disney Springs Tips & Tricks
These are our Top Tips & Tricks 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 and you must be
Book a restaurant.
Most restaurants can be booked in advance. Restaurants do book up in advance and standby lines can be very long. Don’t miss out!
Leave in plenty of time
Traffic can get very busy at Disney Springs. If you have made a dining 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. Preferred parking, which costs $10, is available in the Lemon and Mango parking lots. Valet parking is also 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. Services are regular and run all day. 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.
Guest Relations at Disney Springs
Guest Services are located in the Town Center at Disney Springs. Services include reservations, tickets, currency exchange, lost property and luggage storage.
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.