I’ve always heard stories about the “old” Downtown Disney but, never had the opportunity to experience it myself. I did recently visit Disney Springs a.k.a the upgraded Downtown Disney and it’s a must see location when visiting Lake Beuna Vista, FL. I got to experience their first ever holidays celebration. Disney Springs has pretty much doubled in size with 150 venues. There are four neighborhoods within Disney Springs: The Landing, Marketplace, West Side & Town Center. Town Center use to be a parking lot. It’s amazing to see how it’s grown over time into a place that everyone can enjoy. My favorite quote from the opening press conference was “you can make a purchase and a memory.” I have so many memories from my first visit to Disney Springs. I get it!
Disney Springs sits on 120 acres of land and is the central portion of Walt Disney World Resort. It’s a beautiful waterfront property. I love the convenience of FREE parking or a complimentary motorcoach service to guests of Disney resort hotels and all four theme parks. Complimentary Water Taxi’s are available from a few nearby Disney Resorts; the arrival docs are located at the Marketplace and The Landing neighborhoods. I personally would drive so you can run back to the car as necessary and drop bags when shopping. I’m speaking from personal experience! If you plan to dine at a restaurant, catch some live entertainment or watch a movie then alternate transportation is fine. The Starbright Holidays is a beautiful drone light show in collaboration with intel that you must see.
There are a variety of retail locations to shop from like American Threads where I just had to get a pair of black suede Matisse Skye Heels. You also have M.A.C Cosmetics, Origins, UGGS, Levis, Kipling, Melissa, Lily Pulitzer and Superdry just to name a few. You get food, entertainment, makeup, clothing, shoes, jewelry, toys and accessories all in one place. Some of the best brand name retailers are there with exclusive Disney merchandise. There’s also World of Disney which is the largest Disney Store, a Lego Store and bibbidi bobbidi boutique where little girls can get a princess makeover. It was so cute to see all the little Birthday Princess’s walking around Disney Springs all dolled up.
There are so many restaurants to choose from and you have a great selection from quick grab-and-go kiosks, food trucks, casual dining to five award winning chefs establishments. Disney Springs boasts five James Beard Award-winning chefs: Masaharu Morimoto (Morimoto Asia), Art Smith (Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Kitchen and Southern Shine), Rick Bayless (Frontera Cocina), Tony Mantuano (Portobello), Wolfgang Puck (Wolfgang Puck Café). More than 50 food and beverage locations are open now, with more to come. I had the opportunity to eat dinner at Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming Kitchen & Southern Shine. It was DELICIOUS!
I had a salad to start, Fried Chicken, macaroni & cheese, Hushpuppies (not pictured), Shrimp & Grits, Collard Greens and Moonshine Cake! I was stuffed! There was also a wine tasting as we dined and they were paired perfectly. I definitely can’t wait to experience some of the other restaurants that Disney Springs has to offer. If you visit Orlando, FL during the holiday season, make Disney Springs an intentional stop and experience all it has to offer. You get to visit Santa’s Chalet and walk the Christmas tree trail with fifteen different Disney themed trees. I can’t forget Characters in Flight balloon ride that I was so determined to get on and time escaped me. Disney Springs is a great place for the entire family to enjoy.