Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is one of the hottest dining, shopping, and entertainment destinations in the Orlando area. While Disney has been doing a lot to promote Disney Springs recently, many guests are still confused about what Disney Springs is and how to best enjoy it. Read below for information that will help you make the most of your time at Disney Springs.
8. You need to plan to eat more than one meal there.
Guests to Walt Disney World often head over to Disney Springs for an afternoon or an evening, but there are so many amazing dining options that, as long as your trip is more than a few days, you will benefit from doing more than one meal there. From the House of Blues southern cuisine, to Raglan Road’s traditional Irish menu, to Paradiso 37’s Latin fare and Morimoto’s pan-Asian delicacies, the food at Disney Springs rivals, and sometimes outdoes, the restaurants at the theme parks and resorts.
7. Make Advanced Dining Reservations.
A few years ago, it was possible to walk in to some of the restaurants at what was then called “Downtown Disney”, or to get a last minute reservation on the day of. These days, with the popularity of the newly improved Disney Springs, advanced dining reservations are necessary! Since you are likely making reservations for theme park and resort restaurants as much as 180 days in advance, go ahead and make your Disney Springs reservations then as well!
6. Bring your pocketbook or your Magic Band.
While Disney Springs is definitely still part of Disney World, there is no admission to enter, and very few free experiences to be found. The handful of rides and attractions (a little carousel and train ride for kids, the hot air-balloon ride and amphibious cars) have fees. This can feel a little weird if you have been in the theme park bubble where your admission gets you access to all of the park experiences. Disney Springs is really a shopping and dining district, so be prepared to spend.
5. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter.
Disney Springs has a strong Instagram and Twitter presence. Make sure to follow them so that you can get the latest updates on the stores, restaurants and special events. Keeping an eye on what is going on at Disney Springs is also a great way to get in the Disney spirit when you are between trips.
4. Stay at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.
If you plan to spend a lot of time at Disney Springs, consider staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. Saratoga Springs is a Disney Vacation Club Resort that offers everything from studio rooms (like a normal hotel room) to villas that sleep up to 12 guests. Rooms are available for non- DVC members through Disney’s reservation system, and there are websites that allow you to “rent’’ DVC points to reserve the rooms. Saratoga Springs is a peaceful retreat located just a quick walk or ferry ride from Disney Springs. It is convenient if you intend to dine frequently at Disney Springs, or if you like to end your Disney days with a nightcap. There is a plethora of nightlife at Disney Springs, and it is an easy and safe walk back to your room at Saratoga Springs.
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3. It attracts locals too.
When you are on a vacation at Disney World, especially if you stay on property and spend all of your time at the parks and resorts, you can easily forget about the “outside world.” Within the Disney bubble, everyone is a cast member or a fellow vacationer. Things are a little different at Disney Springs. It still has a distinctively Disney feel but, since there is no admission required, it is a popular dining, shopping, and entertainment spot for locals as well as travelers. This is not a bad thing, but it is helpful to keep in mind that not everyone around you is on a magical vacation.
2. Discounts may be available.
If you are planning to dine at Disney Springs or want to do one of the fee-based attractions, like Aerophile hot-air balloon ride, you might be able to find a discount on Groupon or similar websites. Cosco may have discounted gift cards for Landry’s restaurants that can be used at T-Rex and Rainforest Café, and has been known to sell discount gift cards for Wolfgang Puck. Check out Orlando discount websites and guide books, which also sometimes have coupons for Disney Springs restaurants. If you are the owner of a Tables in Wonderland Card, which gives you 20% off your food and alcohol at many Disney restaurants, you’re in luck because several Disney Springs restaurants accept the card.
1. Not all the restaurants are “Disney”.
Most of the restaurants at Disney Springs are owned and operated by non-Disney companies. While many of them function as Disney restaurants for the purpose of making Advanced Dining reservations, using the Disney Dining Plan, and discounts like Tables in Wonderland, not all of them do. Make sure to research the particular restaurant you are interested in to avoid any surprises or disappointments. Also, know that some of the restaurants only put a certain portion of their tables on the Disney Advanced Dining Reservation system, so even if you can’t get a reservation through Disney, you might be able to get one through the restaurant itself or another reservation service like Open Table.