No host excels more at creating magical moments to remember than the famed Mickey Mouse (well, rather, his creator: the late Walt Disney). There’s a reason Orlando and Walt Disney World have become somewhat synonymous. You see, Disney provides topnotch entertainment for Orlando residents and visitors alike! And even if you haven’t yet ventured to a Walt Disney World Resort theme park, you’ve probably enjoyed the theatrics of Disney movies. While the parks provide endless amusement, Disney Springs packs quite a punch too and without any admission! It’s pretty easy to plan an entire day scouring around this magically diverse complex. Disney Springs can essentially be divided into four zones: West Side, The Landing, Town Center and Marketplace; each of which has shopping, dining and entertainment galore.
You can explore Disney Springs solo, with your love or the whole gang because there is something for everyone. Here’s a snapshot of destination Disney Springs:
Begin your West Side shopping outing by supercharging at the Super Hero Headquarters and Star Wars Galactic Outpost. It’s a stellar way to start any adventure in style. You’ll then be ready to venture the many other stores in this sector which include Disney goods, shoes, sunglasses, sport apparel, cigars and artistic notions.
If grub is what you are craving, West Side has ample options to satisfy. Bongos Cuban Cafe is full of Latin flair, both in cuisine and atmosphere, to give you the energy boost needed for continued Disney Springs’ exploration. House of Blues checks all of the boxes on your list with their impressive main dining room, The Front Porch and The Smokehouse. The Front Porch offers free live music nightly beginning at 5 p.m. with happy hour pricing from 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
For an affordable, sensory-thrilling expedition, stop at Exposition Park any evening between 5 p.m. and 11.p.m. to nosh on food truck eats and revel in free live entertainment. The trucks vary from classic favorites to tacos to mac and cheese medleys to desserts. There is something for every member of your party to savor.
Splitsville Luxury Lanes strikes up fun any time of the day for all ages with recreational bowling, billiards and more. Because all of that friendly competition is sure to work up an appetite, indulge in the alley bites you know and love with an upscale twist. Apps, pizza, sandwiches, sushi, salad and entrees… mmmmm!
Last, but certainly not least, glide over to Aerophile. This tethered helium balloon floats 400 feet into the air granting breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery almost 10 miles away. Each flight can accommodate 29 guests plus the pilot. Don’t forget your camera for sky-high shots!
The retail district within Town Center is extensive. With over 40 shopping experiences ranging from name brands to unique items, an entire day could be spent in this one spot alone. The selection will have you stylin’ and profilin’ from head-to-toe ensuring the head-turning attention you deserve.
Fuel up at one of the quick-serve restaurants in the area, such as Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, D-Luxe Burger or The Polite Pig. And early birds, D-Luxe Burger also serves breakfast from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Surrender to a sweet treat via an ATM. Wait, what… ATM? Yes! Sprinkles bakery offers gourmet cupcakes through a bright pink Cupcake ATM just outside of the store front. All cupcakes are baked fresh daily and highlight unique flavors. You can also take a respite from the hot Florida sun on the partly shaded rooftop bar atop the Coca-Cola Store. The refreshing taste of floats, icees and smoothies will be an oasis to your parched throat.
As the evening draws near, expect to begin hearing and seeing live performers on the Springs Overlook enclave and at Stargazers Bar patio. Entertainment on Springs Overlook is always complimentary so stop and linger to the heart’s content. Attached to Planet Hollywood, Stargazers Bar boasts local craft beer and curated libations.
Essentially an island connected by walkways, The Landing is mostly upscale dining and entertainment with a few shops sprinkled within. This area is brimming with dinner and show combinations. Planning to end your Disney Springs adventure in this locale would prove to be wise.
Raglan Road, a favorite of mine, recently revamped and revved up its entertainment with a 90-minute visual storytelling adventure through Ireland’s culture and history. Let your eyes feast upon a picturesque parade while your taste buds feast upon authentic fare. Fish and chips are highly recommended! And don’t forget to order bread pudding to finish on a sugary-high note.
The Edison is one of the newer residents exuding an industrial and mysterious atmosphere. This multi-level venue is family-friendly by day and adults-only (21 and up) by night. American cuisine, including steaks and the notable Edison burger, are featured on the menu daily. Stilt walkers, aerial acrobatics and burlesque dancers arrive on scene after 10 p.m. for lively (and clean) amusement. Shake a tail feather on the dance floor while The Pearl Street Players play familiar favorites.
Roll up to the Amphicar Landing next to the Boathouse restaurant for a truly unique experience you won’t soon forget. A vintage amphibious car will whisk you around Lake Buena Vista for a thrilling cruise. Although this encounter is on the higher end of the pricing scale, it’s worth every penny.
Browse through the many stores in the Marketplace for items featuring the Disney characters we all know and love. Mark your visit with an iconic Build-A-Dino by Build-A-Bear Workshop located at the T-Rex restaurant. No matter your age, this creative venture is sure to bring a roaring smile to every face. Be sure to stop into the Lego Store as well for one-of-a-kind photo opportunities and to purchase a playful building set for continued fun at home.
The Marketplace Stage offers live entertainment nighty from 7-10:00 p.m. for young and old ears alike. A short stroll from the stage will bring you to The VOID: Step Beyond Reality. The VOID is a virtual reality game cleverly engaging all senses. Choose to travel through the internet with Ralph Breaks VR or take on Stormtroopers to aid the Rebellion’s victory in Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. Either way, you can’t choose erroneously in this technological adventure. The total experience ranges 30-60 minutes depending on traffic.
For mouthwatering morsels, head to the Daily Poutine window and stop in Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. Or, partake in ponderous plates at T-Rex or Rainforest Cafe. The surrounding decor and animatronics in both of these dining rooms will keep you bright-eyed and amused. Be sure to plan ahead and reserve seating at these two ever popular sit-down eateries.
Magical Staycation Simplified
Now that your Disney Springs agenda is set, simplify logistics by staying nearby. The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs Area and Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace – Disney Springs Area are both within walking distance to Disney Springs, connected via pedestrian skybridge. Both resorts, as well as the nearby DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Disney Springs Area, also offer scheduled shuttle transportation to Disney Springs.