When you’re going on a Disney World vacation, you’re probably planning to visit every theme park during your trip, but you might not think (or even know) about Disney Springs!
Disney Springs, which was the former Downtown Disney prior to 2013, is the largest shopping and dining district at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It is located on Lake Buena Vista Drive and is only a short drive or bus ride away from the Disney World theme parks and hotels. And, the best part? It’s totally free!
Ready to explore more? Here are 31 great things to do at Disney Springs that you don’t want to miss!
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SHOPPING IN DISNEY SPRINGS
At Disney Springs, you’ll find fantastic shopping! You’ll find popular retail spots, clothing, plenty of Disney-themed stores, personalized souvenirs, and so much more.
GET YOUR SHOPPING FIX
Disney Springs is divided into four main sections and Town Center is where you’ll find all the shops!
There are several retail stores for you to explore including spots like Sephora, Vera Bradley, Kate Spade, Under Armor, and more. The area is much like an outdoor mall, though many of the stores carry Disney-themed merchandise that you can only get at Disney Springs, along with their regular stock.
SHOP AT THE LARGEST DISNEY MERCHANDISE STORE IN THE WORLD
There’s nothing better than taking home a souvenir or two (or three, or four) to remember your trip to Disney World, and World of Disney is one of the best places to do your shopping!
Located in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs, it is the largest Disney store in the world. It is divided into several sections with more Disney merchandise than you could imagine. Whether you’re looking for a new Disney mug, a character plush, matching t-shirts for your family, toys, Minnie Ear, or really anything else, World of Disney is where you’ll find it!
DO YOUR CHRISTMAS SHOPPING 365 DAYS OF THE YEAR
If you love Christmas, then a visit to Disney Springs is non-negotiable. In the Marketplace, you can find Disney’s Days of Christmas which is a Christmas store that is open 365 days of the year.
So, you can stock up on your Disney-themed holiday decor, ornaments, and more — no matter what time of year you visit!
SHOP EVEN MORE DISNEY MERCHANDISE
There’s certainly no shortage of popular stores in Disney Springs, especially Disney ones! For example, DisneyStyle has outfits inspired by Disney characters, Disney Pin Traders has the largest selection of Disney pins, and Once Upon A Toy is full of puzzles, action figures, and other toys.
Other Disney-themed stores include Tren-D, Marketplace Co-Op, and Disney’s Days of Christmas. So – yes – we’ll admit, it’s very hard to walk away from Disney Springs without some sort of souvenir!
SAMPLE COCA-COLA FLAVORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
One of the most unique stores in Disney Springs is the Coca-Cola Store. The store itself is three levels filled with vintage and contemporary coke merchandise, plus you can even meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear inside. But, what makes this a fan favorite spot is the Coca-Cola Store Rooftop Beverage Bar located on — you guessed it — the roof!
At the bar, you can order up a whole host of different coke drinks like frozen beverages, smoothies, coke floats, and more. However, if it’s your first time visiting, you need to try the Taste Around The World sampler! It features 16 different coke drinks from countries around the world, making it a fun activity for the family. They also offer a coke float sampler that is equally as delicious and fun.
CREATE YOUR OWN CUSTOM M&M’S TO TAKE HOME
Disney Springs is one of only seven locations in the world where you can shop at an official M&M Store and you definitely don’t want to miss out on exploring the colorful, chocolate-filled store! The store spans 10,000 square feet and can be found on the West Side of the shopping and dining district just past the bowling alley.
You can shop all kinds of M&M merchandise here, but the most unique offering is the ability to create your own custom M&Ms to take home and eat! You’ll get to choose up to four different designs for your candy including Disney Parks icons, photos, and even custom text. Once you’ve chosen your designs, you’ll pick out your packaging and M&M colors (there are over 25 to choose from!) and then wait for a Cast Member to prepare them.
This souvenir may not last all that long (because who can resist M&Ms?) but is great for celebrating special occasions or commemorating your trip.
CREATE YOUR OWN PERSONALIZED LEGO MINIFIGURE
Have kiddos who love building LEGO sets? Then a visit to the LEGO Store in Disney Springs is a must! Like many other LEGO stores, you’ll find a huge selection of LEGO playsets inspired by Disney and Star Wars movies here. Plus, you can even build your own personalized LEGO Minifigure!
To make a custom LEGO Minifigure (a.k.a. a little LEGO person), you’ll head to the building station and start by customizing your Minifigures clothing. You’ll pick out (or create) a design for the front and back of the shirt and then select an accessory for your LEGO person to hold. All that’s left is to name it and then wait while it is created – a pretty fun way to commemorate your trip!
SHOP ONE-OF-A-KIND DISNEY PAINTINGS, PRINTS, AND COLLECTIBLES
Not a big fan of plushies, t-shirts, or toys but want to take home something special to remember your trip? Stop by The Art of Disney store!
This gallery-style shop features tons of stunning art including framed prints, paintings, postcards, figurines, and more for you to take home. And, you might even be lucky enough to meet the Disney artists and have them sign their work (if you purchase it, of course) depending on when you’re visiting.
SHOP AT DISNEY WORLD’S ONLY MARVEL STORE
Marvel fans, get ready to step into your new favorite store! Super Hero Headquarters is Disney World’s only Marvel store outside of the parks with the largest selection of Marvel merchandise. It has everything from accessories, to action figures, to art, to clothing, to collectibles, and more.
The stock here tends to rotate, so you’ll always find something new.
BUILD YOUR OWN STAR WARS LIGHTSABER
You’ve probably heard about Savi’s Workshop Handbuilt Lightsaber Experience in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but you don’t need a park ticket to build your own lightsaber!
Disney Springs is home to the Star Wars Trading Post gift shop where you can find a Build Your Own Lightsaber Station. The building experience is less immersive than Savi’s Workshop, but you’ll still be able to pick out your own parts and construct the lightsaber yourself. It’s also much cheaper and is a great way to get the kiddos involved!
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DINING AT DISNEY SPRINGS
Whether you’re looking for a snack, themed restaurants, family-friendly eateries, wine and cocktails, or a romantic dinner, you’re sure to find the perfect place in Disney Springs.
GRAB A QUICK BITE AT SOME OF THE BEST DISNEY RESTAURANTS
There are over 30 Disney Springs restaurants to choose from, including several fast-casual dining options where you can grab a quick bite. Some of the most popular restaurants like this include The Polite Pig (which serves barbeque-inspired eats), Earl of Sandwich (with tons of sandwiches to choose from), and Chicken Guy (which is owned by Guy Fieri).
If you need something that’s more on-the-go, there are a few other options. Exposition Park is where you’ll find food trucks serving up things like Mexican food, over-the-top hot dogs, mac & cheese, and plant-based fare. Or, you can opt for The Daily Poutine where you can try authentic Canadian Poutine, Italian Poutine, and more.
ENJOY A DATE NIGHT AT A WORLD-CLASS RESTAURANT
Whether you’re looking for a romantic restaurant, a high-energy dining room, or a lounge to grab a drink with your special someone, Disney Springs is a great place to head for date night.
There are so many different places to eat at including Planet Hollywood, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (owned by the celebrity chef), STK, and more. It’s not hard to find your new favorite place when eating at Disney Springs – and, if you don’t, you can always try another restaurant on your next trip!
INDULGE IN GIANT HALF-POUND COOKIES
Disney Springs is one of the best places to get your sugar fix and Gideon’s Bakehouse is at the top of the favorites list! The grab-and-go bake shop is newer to Disney World, but its popularity dates much further back in Orlando’s local history. Why? Well, it might be the giant half-pound cookies…or the huge cake slices available in tons of flavors…or maybe it’s the coffee. No matter what type of treat you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to find it here!
Gideon’s Bakehouse has quickly become one of the most popular places to be, resulting in guests needing to join a virtual queue (and wait hours) to even get in. So, if a chocolate-loaded cookie sounds like something you want in your future, one of our best tips is to stop here first to reserve your spot in line. You’re sure to be blown away by the desserts and the ambiance!
TOP OFF YOUR SUGAR STORES WITH OVER-THE-TOP DONUTS
Craving a donut? Everglades Donuts & Cold Brew has you covered in Disney Springs! Look for the building with a giant blue donut on top and head in for a bite of the most over-the-top donuts around.
There’s almost always a seasonal donut offering in addition to the classics, unique cold brew creations, and you can even get a grilled cheese sandwich on a glazed donut here.
EAT IN THE MIDDLE OF A RAINFOREST OR DINE WITH DINOSAURS
With so many places to eat in Disney Springs, it can be hard to decide which is best for your family. If you’re traveling with little ones, though, consider dining at the Rainforest Cafe or T-Rex Cafe! They are both amazingly themed restaurants.
Rainforest Cafe is best for families with people who love animals because you’ll be eating in a “live” rainforest, thunderstorms and all! You’ll likely recognize this restaurant because it has locations outside of Disney World too.
However, if any of your travelers are obsessed with dinosaurs, then T-Rex Cafe is where you’ll want to be! You’ll eat among dino friends with a “meteor shower” taking place in the restaurant every 20 minutes. Plus, there’s even a Build-A-Dino by Build-A-Bear Workshop inside so you can create your own prehistoric pal to take home with you!
ENJOY AN AUTHENTIC IRISH MEAL AND SHOW
Enjoy dinner and a show? Make a reservation at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant when you’re at Disney Springs! The menu is full of Irish fare, including boozy shakes and seasonal items. Plus, you can even visit for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays to enjoy Irish entrées, sides, and morning cocktails.
While the food is certainly delicious, what makes Raglan Road different from all the other restaurants in Disney Springs is the live entertainment. Depending on which dining room you’re seated in, you’ll be treated to a wide variety of live entertainment. Performances include live bands and authentic Irish dancing. Feel free to make a request for where you’d like to sit when you check in for your reservation!
TREAT YOURSELF TO ONE OF DISNEY WORLD’S MOST ICONIC DESSERTS
You can usually only find the most iconic Disney snacks in the Walt Disney World Theme Parks and water parks…but, if you’re a fan of Dole Whip and are headed to Disney Springs, you’re in luck!
Swirls On The Water is a new kiosk in the Marketplace where you can try all kinds of Dole Whip creations, including Dole Whip nachos. And, if you can’t decide what flavor to try, our best tip is to order up the Dole Whip Flight, which includes three unique frozen flavors.
DO A WINE TASTING AT WINE BAR GEORGE
In the mood for some really good wine? You’ll find it at Wine Bar George! Named after Master Sommelier, George Miliotes, this is one of the best restaurants in Disney World for both drinks and food.
The bar features more than 130 different wines and the menu is specifically designed to complement them all. You can dine here for lunch and dinner 7 days a week plus brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.
GRAB DRINKS AT AN INDIANA JONES-THEMED BAR
Before Downtown Disney became Disney Springs in 2015, it used to be home to an “adult district” called Pleasure Island, filled with themed bars and lounges. While all of these were removed, there is still one Disney-themed lounge that will bring on the nostalgia – Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. The “vintage airplane hangar-turned-dive bar” is themed after Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark and named after the easygoing pilot that Indy meets, named Jock Lindsey.
The menu features Indiana Jones-themed drinks and small bites, like Snakebite Sliders, the Fountain of Youth, and The Scottish Professor cocktail. And, you’ll feel like you’re dining inside the movie! If you plan your trip right, the holidays are an especially good time to visit Hangar Bar because the entire dive bar gets decked out for the season – Christmas lights and all!
MAKE YOUR OWN SIGNATURE MICKEY DOME CAKE
If you’re looking for the best place to get a dessert-themed after your favorite Disney character, check out Amorette’s Patisserie! It is an upscale French-style bakery full of mouth-watering desserts like pastries, signature Disney character cakes, and more. And, if eating your way through the bakery case isn’t enough, you can take your visit to the next level and participate in a Cake Decorating Experience!
During the class, you’ll put together your own signature Mickey Mouse dome cake. They’ll provide you with all the pieces and ingredients to make your masterpiece and then you can take it home to enjoy! The experience lasts about 90 minutes and reservations are required.
CREATE YOUR OWN TREAT AT GOOFY’S CANDY COMPANY
If you can’t find a sweet treat that is exactly what you’re craving in Disney Springs, you can create your very own at Goofy’s Candy Company!
Every day from 12PM to 10PM, you can stop in and make exactly what you want. All you have to do is pick up a custom treat card, select what you want (like a caramel apple or a Mickey Rice Krispie treat) and pick your toppings. Then a Cast Member will whip it up right in front of you. It’ll likely end up being one of the best things you ate on your trip!
UNIQUE AND ENTERTAINING THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY SPRINGS
Disney Springs is home to some really unique experiences and entertainment that you’re not going to want to miss!
GIVE YOUR LITTLEST TRAVELERS A ROYAL MAKEOVER
It’s hard not to feel like a prince or a princess when you’re in Disney World, but you can make it official for your kiddos at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Disney Springs! Here, a Fairy Godmother-in-training gives your kids a storybook makeover. They’ll get to choose one of three different hairstyles and then get their makeup and nails done, plus pick up some accessories (or maybe even a Disney Princess costume).
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is one of the more expensive things you can treat your kids to in Disney World, with packages ranging from $19.95 all the way up to $450 depending on what you select. No matter which option you choose, you can also add on shoes, wands, crowns, fairy wings, and t-shirts to complete your outfit.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is also available in Magic Kingdom and at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, but Disney Springs is the only location that has held a Princess Parade in the past where all the princes and princesses can participate.
TAKE A RIDE IN A VINTAGE AMPHICAR
Most people know that you can catch a ride on a Disney boat to get between several locations across property. But, if you’d just like to take in the natural beauty of Florida and the Walt Disney Resort, take a ride in a vintage Amphicar – a car that can both drive on land and float on the water.
You can sign up for your Amphicar tour at The Boathouse restaurant in Disney Springs and then embark on a 20-minute guided tour of Lake Buena Vista.
SEE YOUR FAVORITE BAND IN CONCERT
On the West Side of Disney Springs, you’ll stumble upon the House of Blues where you can enjoy live entertainment while you eat. But, that’s not all!
The House of Blues is a much bigger entertainment complex and also has a concert venue where you can see touring artists throughout the year. Check the concert schedule when you’re planning your Disney trip to see if your favorite band might be visiting at the same time!
RELAX AND ENJOY FREE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
The best time to visit Disney Springs is in the evening because that’s when you can catch live entertainment as you walk around – and it’s totally free!
At the AdventHealth Waterside Stage in the Marketplace you’ll usually find a DJ who is sure to get your whole family dancing. And, the entertainment district has even more live music including different bands from the local area and other entertainment options (including human statues!).
GET A BIRDS EYE VIEW OF DISNEY WORLD
One of the most iconic things to do at Disney Springs is to ride in the Aerophile!
This tethered hand-painted helium balloon is the largest in the world and takes you up for an 8-minute ride, up to 400 feet into the sky, where you get a spectacular view of the Walt Disney World Resort.
On a clear day, you can see all of the Disney Theme Parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. Plus, you can see nearly all of the Disney Resorts too.
GO BOWLING (AND GRAB A BITE TO EAT)
Need something to keep the whole family busy when bad weather hits Disney World? Head to Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs! It is a two-story bowling alley where you and your family can put your skills to the test. Plus, it also has a dining room so you don’t have to go anywhere when you get hungry.
Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling (407) 938-7467. Note that dining reservations are made separately.
WATCH A MOVIE PREMIERE AT DISNEY’S DINE-IN THEATER
You don’t have to miss the latest Marvel or Disney movie premiere just because you’re visiting Disney World. AMC Disney Springs Dine-In Theater is the best place to be! The seats in the theater are designed for comfort, and 6 of the 24 theaters feature dine-in service with a full menu of food and drinks that are served directly to you.
You can see almost any movie that is in the theaters here (not just Disney ones!), but Disney does tend to do something a little extra when their movies come out at the theater in Disney Springs. For example, if you’re able to be there for a premiere, you’ll usually find a red carpet, banners, and photo ops. It’s sure to make your movie night a little bit more exciting!
SEE DISNEY WORLD’S EXCLUSIVE CIRQUE DU SOLEIL SHOW
If you’re looking for a fun and unique evening activity, then you need to consider seeing Cirque Du Soleil Drawn To Life.
Located on the west side of Disney Springs in the large “circus tent” that used to be home to La Nouba, you’ll be blown away by the performance.
And, what’s even more special about it is that you can only see it here! Drawn To Life is the first time that Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering have worked together to create a live show in celebration of Disney animation.
GET YOUR FAMILY PHOTOS TAKEN – FOR FREE!
Disney Springs is also home to a Disney PhotoPass Studio, which is a free place where you can pose for photos with your whole family. The studio has several backdrops, including standard backgrounds and virtual ones that have some added Disney magic!
You don’t need a reservation, so you can stop by anytime during your Walt Disney World vacation.
COMPLETE AN EPIC CHRISTMAS TREE STROLL (IF YOU’RE VISITING AROUND THE HOLIDAYS)
The holidays are a great time to visit Disney Springs – but not just because of all the shopping! The first thing you’ll probably notice when you arrive is that there are tons of Christmas trees scattered around. That’s for the Christmas Tree Stroll!
Each year, Christmas trees are spread out throughout the shopping and dining district and you can find them all to receive a prize. Many Disney fans will tout this as one of their favorite things to do at Disney World around the holidays because the trees are so extraordinary. Each one is themed after a different Disney character, movie, or ride, and it’s fun to find all the little details in each one.
DOES DISNEY SPRINGS HAVE PARKING?
Yes! Disney Springs offers free parking at three different parking garages and three surface lots. We recommend parking in the Orange or Lime Garage, as these are both more centrally located.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO VISIT DISNEY SPRINGS?
Disney Springs offers free admission for all guests, making it a great place to visit on your first or last day in Disney World when you don’t want to pay for a park ticket. There are several great options for food and fun activities to keep you busy, and you don’t have to pay to get in like you do at the theme parks!
IS THE NBA EXPERIENCE STILL OPEN?
No. Unfortunately, the NBA Experience permanently closed in 2020.
MORE INFORMATION FOR TRIP TO THE THEME PARKS
- YOUR THEME PARK VACATION
- DISNEY TIPS: 80 Best Disney World Tips For A Magical Vacation
- DISNEY FOR ADULTS: Disney For Adults: 17+ Fun Things You’ll Love
- FIREWORKS: Your Complete Guide To Disney Fireworks At WDW
- DISNEY TOURS: 11 Absolutely Magical Disney Tours You’ll Love
WHERE TO STAY IN DISNEY
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