If you’ve never spent a day at Disney Springs, you’re missing out on the fifth “theme park” at Walt Disney World! Formerly Downtown Disney, Disney Springs has reinvented itself not just as an evening venue for adults but as a family entertainment complex worthy of at least a full day there!
I recently spent a whirlwind day exploring some of the shops, restaurants, and attractions at Disney Springs and came up with a list of can’t-miss stops at this Disney destination.
Shopping at Disney Springs
One of my favorite things to do at Disney Springs is SHOP. And when traveling with a group of fellow travel writers, I quickly learned that everyone has their own unique shopping styles. Some of us must head to World of Disney, the ultimate Disney merchandise shop. (My personal favorite for Disney merch is the Marketplace Co-Op!)
What I really love, though, is all of the non-Disney stores. They have some of the best retailers located in what is essentially the world’s best outdoor mall! Here are some of the new (to me) stores worth checking out at Disney Springs.
Listen. I didn’t want to believe the hype. No leggings are worth what lululemon charges, am I right? Also, only suburban moms shop there for the perfect athleisure to wear to the PTA meeting.
Then guess what happened? I visited the brand new lululemon store at Disney Springs and I am a total convert. It’s not just the clothing and merchandise. It’s not just the super helpful and welcoming staff. It’s not the just inclusive, body positive messaging. It’s not just the innovative technical athletic gear they’ve created. It’s all of the above that makes shopping there an experience.
I walked out of the store with a new sports bra, workout tank, buttery soft leggings that don’t give me a muffin top, and a belt pack that actually looks stylish.
Fun fact: Most of their customers come in looking for more appropriate clothes for the park. So if you don’t pack appropriately, just go shopping!
Rustic Cuff is not the store you think it is. It does offer cuff bracelets but so much more. It’s a store full of simple stretch bracelets or or sparkly beaded bracelets, both for women and girls. But their success story comes compliments of Oprah Winfrey.
Founder Jill Donovan gifted a bracelet to Oprah’s BFF, Gayle King, who then regifted it to Oprah. When Oprah featured it on a magazine cover, the brand took off and so did the idea of regifting.
Rustic Cuff also offers customer engraved bracelets made on site that you can keep for yourself or gift to someone else. (I got my name on mine so I can’t regift it unless I come across another Fadra!).
Are you a bath or a shower person? Actually, doesn’t matter. If bath bombs aren’t your thing, you can also find shower bombs, shampoo & conditioner, body scrubs, and the most amazing body butter. But that’s not all. You can find bars of soap and bath salts, and lip balm, and basically whatever you need for your self-care.
Walking in the store is a sensory experience in itself and you can try several of the products throughout!
While at Disney Springs, I always try to pop in to some of my other favorites like Uniqlo, Superdry, Sugarboo, and LEGO. ANd for my Disney fix, I either check out the art galleries or Tren-D for something Disney-fied but different.
Entertainment at Disney Springs
Many people known Disney Springs for shopping and dining. But there’s plenty of entertainment options there as well. Sadly, they closed down DisneyQuest, a multi-story complex for all sorts of video games. But there are plenty of other options for quick and fun family entertainment.
Not to be confused with World of Coca-Cola, which is in Atlanta, Georgia, the Coca-Cola Store is a 3 story complex that covers all things Coca Cola. Shop merchandise or head to the rooftop area where you can have a Coke and a smile. Or… if you’re brave enough, sample 16 sodas from around the world with a tasting.
I actually had the chance to meet Dave Bowe, an entrepreneur from Jamaica who makes all of his candles by hand. And if you’re a true Disney fan, you’ll love that you can purchase signature scents from around the parks, like Clover World, inspired by the scent you’ll find on Soarin’ and at other parts of the park.
So why is a candle shop considered entertainment and not shopping? Because you can make your own candle! You’re provide with a glass container that you can decorate (if you want). Then you choose up to three scents to combine with wax, add color (if you want), sprinkle with dried flower petals (if you want) and within 45 minutes, you have a custom candle ready to take home!
Although we still lament the demise of DisneyQuest, we love to explore entertainment options at Disney Springs. Perfect for arrival or departure day. We’ve done the Vintage Amphicar at The Landing but you can also head to AMC® Disney Springs 24 Dine-In Theatres, Splitsville Luxury Lanes™, Aerophile (a tethered helium balloon ride), and Cirque du Soleil.
Dining at Disney Springs
If you’re spending the day at Disney Springs, I hope you’re wearing comfortable shoes. And don’t worry – if you’re not, you can buy some! That’s because you will do a lot of walking. And all that walking will build up a good appetite.
Good news? There’s no shortage of places to eat and snack, whether it’s a sit-down mean or quick service or even just a nibble. Here are a few new places I had a chance to try.
Whether you love Guy Fieri or not, you’ll love his chicken at this quick service restaurant. And that’s for one reason only: THE SAUCES. I’m not a “saucy” person as we often say in my family but when given a sampling of all 22 of their sauces, I tried every single one.
Every. Single. One.
(FYI – my favorites were the Special Sauce, Curry Mayo, Buttermilk Ranch, and Garlic Parmesan)
I recommend the chicken tenders but if you’re looking for more substance, check out their mac & cheese or salads. And although I was happy with just chicken, several friends opted for their milkshakes, which looked amazing!
If you’re looking to get away from any sort of theme and just want a good beer and good food, you can check out City Works where they have over 90 beers on tap. It’s geared toward the sports crowd so if you’re dying to watch the game (whatever game you want), you’ll love the large screen TVs throughout.
For me, I just loved the salmon! And the service was fantastic.
If you’re not looking for a meal but maybe something to nosh on with a few adult beverages, this bar and lounge is right on the water and gives you a perfect place to listen to live music.
Jock Lindsey was the American pilot who assisted Indiana Jones in several movies. At the very least, it’s worth a look inside at the themed atmosphere but I’d recommend staying for a pretzel and beer flight.
Half our our group ate at City Works while the other half ate at Planet Hollywood. I wasn’t too keen on themed dining but they insisted everything there was amazing and share-worthy.
When I’m visiting with my family, we also like Earl of Sandwich (quick service), Raglan Road, and Morimoto.
Reminders about Disney Springs
Most Disney resorts will have buses that head to Disney Springs so no need to drive. If you do drive, there are large parking garages with plenty of parking. If you’re staying at the nearby Wyndham Lake Buena Vista, you can simply walk!
Disney Springs is still considered Disney property so be sure to ask for your DVC or annual passholder discount wherever you go, if eligible. And you can use your Magic band in many places!
Finally, if you’re spending a day at Disney Springs, don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase for whatever amazing shopping finds you score. If not, they can probably ship it!