Theme Park Insider

Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney Officially Is Now Disney Springs

September 29, 2015, 3:12 PM · Walt Disney World today officially switched over the name of its shopping district from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs.

Outside Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar at Disney Springs
Outside Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar at Disney Springs. Photo courtesy Disney

The multi-year, multi-million-dollar refurbishment of the area won't be complete until sometime next year, but Disney is switching the names now, a couple days ahead of the start of its new fiscal year.

Disney announced the Disney Springs project in 2013. Since then, construction has disrupted the flow of cars and guests throughout the area, as Disney remakes the property to accommodate new restaurants, stores, parking, and vehicle access. Transportation improvements include a massive new parking garage, a pedestrian bridge across Buena Vista Dr. to remote parking lots (so visitors won't have to cross at street level), and flyover ramps to allow a faster drive into and out of the area. Disney also is building a new, expanded bus depot to serve the district.

Disney Springs' new restaurants are The Boathouse and Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar, with Morimoto Asia opening to the public tomorrow. Still to come are STK Steakhouse and the Edison. In addition, Planet Hollywood is getting a facade makeover to become the Planet Hollywood Observatory.

Finally, DisneyQuest will close, to be replaced by a new NBA Experience attraction.


When complete, the old Pleasure Island and its closest parking areas will have been transformed into Town Center and The Landing, two of the four areas in the new (completely made up) village of Disney Springs. (The old Marketplace and West Side will be the other two areas.)

In case you were wondering, the Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort in California will retain the "Downtown Disney" name. In Florida, the transformation into Disney Springs is the latest step in the evolution of what started as the rather modest Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village in the early days of the Walt Disney World Resort. When complete, Disney Springs will offer more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues.


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Replies (43)

September 29, 2015 at 3:30 PM · Disney Springs is going to be a very big deal.
September 29, 2015 at 3:34 PM · TH, where they will miss out though is that Disney Springs is a destination unto itself, whereas Citywalk has a captive audience. Guests of Disney Springs must drive there (or go by bus) and find a park, whereas at Universal (and DLR) the restaurants and shops are between the carpark and the parks, guaranteeing guests.

Disney world could have done well by having Disney Springs a central hub with lots of carparking and providing fast, regular public transport (buses, monorail or something else) to the parks. I have found the spread out nature of Disney World makes getting between parks and carparks a hassle, particularly with little kids.

September 29, 2015 at 3:50 PM · Mr. Crawford writes: "TH, where they will miss out ..."

I Respond: Please define "miss out."

September 29, 2015 at 3:54 PM · By the way, while there is reason to believe that the "run the gaunlet" placement approach to success (dropping CityWalk between the parks and the parking lot) has merit, it also places the CW shops and restaurants in direct competition with the shops and restaurants inside the parks.
September 29, 2015 at 4:41 PM · Direct transportation from Disney Springs to the parks is forbidden by design. They are only providing transportation to onsite guests wanting to see Disney Springs. The premise is completely wrong. They aren't missing any opportunity. They are actually trying to prevent the abuse of their services. Off site guests going to the parks should park at the parks. They also built the parking structure for the lack of parking spaces. Turning Disney Springs into a park and ride lot will make it into a transportation mess and the entertainment and shopping goals will be short changed.
September 29, 2015 at 4:59 PM · I am excited for the completion of Disney Springs. I always felt that the concept of Downtown Disney had a lot of potential but that it was a it underdeveloped. With this major overhaul, the area will truly be a destination to visit!
September 29, 2015 at 5:00 PM · Check out these construction photos. The place is definitely going to be a big deal! Can't wait!!

http://damouse.com/2015/09/23/aerial-photography-outlines-disneys-retail-wonderland-disney-springs/

September 29, 2015 at 5:01 PM · Anon writes: "They also built the parking structure ..."

I Respond: That would be "structures" ... plural. They also have the civil work on the roads to smooth things out and the new exit from I-4 that brings folks directly into the parking garages at an upper level.

DS is going to be HUGE.

September 29, 2015 at 5:07 PM · Yay, yet another generic shopping mall that's going to have all the generic shops you find everywhere else!

A real missed opportunity to have developed something really unique.

Do we know if they are planning on doing anything to the West Side or the Marketplace areas once this completes?

September 29, 2015 at 5:21 PM · Some of my east-coast friends emailed me an insider's view of what's going on behind the remaining construction walls in Disney Springs:

Disney Springs Construction

Yeah, there's still much to come.

September 29, 2015 at 5:24 PM · My point is simply that Disney Springs has to be the destination, and the effort of battling traffic and fighting for a car park when I was there 4 years ago deterred me from visiting again (hopefully these new changes fix that).

My point on the layout of Disney World is that it us too spread out, making movement between parks (or even to their car park) tiresome. I'm not suggesting they turn Disney Springs into a hub now, that couldn't work, but if when they initially designed it set it up as a hub with a mass transit system to the parks it would be easier to navigate.

September 29, 2015 at 5:27 PM · Mr. Crawfors writes: "...and the effort of battling traffic and fighting for a car park when I was there 4 years ago deterred me from visiting again (hopefully these new changes fix that)."

I Respond: Three parking garages, a new off ramp from I-4 and bypass roads segregating DS visitors from those commuting to and from parks ... Yeah, I think they have it handled.

September 29, 2015 at 5:55 PM · Mr. Crawford writes: "My point on the layout of Disney World is that it us too spread out, making movement between parks (or even to their car park) tiresome. "

I Respond: Hasn't seemed to be a substantial problem over the last 44 years.

September 29, 2015 at 6:15 PM · Not a substantial one yet, but any person deterred from returning by this is a customer lost. My wife didn't enjoy Orlando, so it's unlikely we'd return in the foreseeable future (as much as I'd like to).

Many people criticise the transport at Disney World. I personally prefer the intimacy and easy navigation of DLR.

September 29, 2015 at 6:51 PM · Mr. Crawford writes: "Not a substantial one yet ..."

I Respond: Um, "yet?" So when would you guess that it will become a substantial problem. I mean, taking into account that Disney had enough experience managing its own property to design civil improvements (roads, parking garages, highway off ramps, etc.) to address concerns about movement and transportation.

And for the record, Disney Springs is a evolving (in a BIG WAY) into its own destination. Cirque, House of Blues, Splitsville, Bongos, Boathouse, Tunnels, Jock's and the upcoming NBA Experience are enticements that do not need the presence of a theme park to draw traffic. Patrons will not be traveling between destinations as DS will be THE destination. For locals as well as those on holiday.

September 29, 2015 at 6:52 PM · I prefer Downtown Disney World
September 29, 2015 at 6:58 PM · I feel that Downtown Disney has a much better ring to it
September 29, 2015 at 7:01 PM · While I wasn't in Florida at the time, it looks like the Disney Village was set up to support the original third party Lake Buena Vista hotels and office area long before even Epcot.

There would have no reason to even think of building a central parking area for the rest of the resort. There product worked and there is no space in the now excessively overcrowded area.

Disney could do a lot to improve the traffic flow with 3-4 internal light rail routes and reserve buses as supplemental for the busiest days. Magic Bands become boarding passes with a fee for offsite except between parks. With the higher density of rail compared to busses, waits become shorter and park hopping becomes easier.

Add a Disney Transport tie to an attractions region light rail service and Orlando traffic gets a lot safer.

September 29, 2015 at 7:13 PM · Mr Creative, please stop calling me Mr Crawford, Grant is fine.

Will Disney World's sprawling layout ever have a significant effect on attendance? Who knows. Long term though a good Mass transit system's cost would have to be better than they huge road infrastructure they have to spend on.

As for DS becoming it's own destination, you're probably right. But I still believe that having the convenience of this area being located where you don't have to move your car after attending the park would improve attendance

September 29, 2015 at 7:28 PM · Before you know it, they will put a border around the area, build a gate, and call it a new theme park!

Kidding aside, since Disney Spring is truly becoming its own destination it's interesting how close it will become to being its own park. I guess except for the fact that it's missing the usual balance of attractions to shopping.

September 29, 2015 at 7:58 PM · "But I still believe that having the convenience of this area being located where you don't have to move your car after attending the park would improve attendance"

No it wouldn't. DS would be back to where it was. The parking lot would be taken by park goers. Those that just want to visit the DS have no place to park. DS doesn't exist to help park attendance. That's backwards thinking. DS is its own attraction and should reflect it's own goals and not the goals of the parks.

Each park has its own huge parking lots. What's the problem with parking at the parks? You don't want to waste another hour transferring twice to get to the parks from DS. Since you have a car anyways, drive directly from the park to DS.

September 29, 2015 at 9:16 PM · If only there were a Disney resort where you could park in some big parking facility, then have all your hotels, the shopping district, and theme parks within walking or monorail distance of each other.

Oh, wait, that would be ALL the other Disney theme park resorts. ;^)

(Yes, I live in Southern California, and yes, I am trolling now.)

September 29, 2015 at 9:47 PM · You truly can't beat the convenience of Disneyland Resort Anaheim. But, DD is truly small. Was just at DS in late April and found getting there to be easy from a park. Parking was easy, as well. Enjoyed the new look and views of the water. The new restaurants and stores, once opened, will make for a better experience.

I understand all the negativity from past experiences, I just don't understand the... the new DS is going to be the same attitude. The designs for shopping, food and parking have been public, as well as continual photo feeds of the construction.

September 30, 2015 at 1:03 AM · It's not called Walt Disney World for nothing. I like that it's spread out. Disney Springs is a fine name and for those who enjoy large scale entertainment/shopping districts, enjoy. Not for me though. I like the idea of being able to tuck myself away from the chaos.
September 30, 2015 at 1:16 AM · I'm looking forward to seeing some good aerial shots of Disney Springs when it's complete, as some of the renderings make it look like it'll be quite a beautiful area. I know some of the new restaurants and bars will be amazing, but it oughtta end up being a great shopping destination.

As much as I'd love to see a monorail built, with a stop at DS, I know they want the parking lots and garages to be solely for the use of shoppers, and not park-goers. Sure, you could charge $16, or swipe your Magic Band, but that still allows park-goers to park at Disney Springs, causing problems for those who are there for the purpose of shopping or for dinner.

I'm not holding my breath that any new monorail tracks will be built, but it sure would be nice to transition away from the bus fleet. Or at least replace their oldest buses with electric or hybrid buses if they insist on using as many as they do.

Disney Springs will be a huge improvement over Downtown Disney, which I admit I enjoyed.

September 30, 2015 at 4:32 AM · @Robert- If only there were a Disney resort where you could park your car in some big parking facility, then be limited to only one or two parks, rather than six. Oh, wait, that would be all the Disney resorts other than WDW. ; )
(Trolling from Central Florida)
September 30, 2015 at 6:50 AM · I still think the name sounds like a retirement home. It's more of an outlet mall now than a really unique destination. (Shows notwithstanding)
September 30, 2015 at 7:25 AM · I always got the impression that Downtown Disney/Disney Springs was really just successful at catching people who weren't staying on property and locals as a free sopping opportunity. Most of the entertainment options didn't work well enough to keep them form being dropped. It's also not a coincidence that the area between Disney and Universal has a lot of outlet malls.

I see it kinda like I see Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. There are no rides, its more about shopping, dining, and maybe seeing some entertainment. There isn't a parade at Disney Springs, but if the end of your vacation is like the end of your day at Magic kingdom, then shopping is a thing a lot of people do.

So expanding Disney Springs into a shopping and dining center seems like a good fit for what is already a successful formula.

September 30, 2015 at 9:32 AM · I must be missing something, Disney Springs is a shopping center, it may have a nice design and look good but it is still a shopping center. Maybe for locals it may be a destination on its own but for someone who travels 3700 kilometres (2300 miles) I am not wasting a day at a shopping center, it is not destination on its own. In my opinion, for what its worth, this will be someplace for last minute shopping between check out from your hotel and check in at the airport.
September 30, 2015 at 9:38 AM · The new restaurants look like mega gourmet eateries, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Rolling Boulder sliders - they just look like burger sliders with an Indiana Jones name. I'm more intrigued by the unique restaurants at Citywalk like Cowfish. Citywalk has always been more interesting and unique to me than Disney, on both coasts. Disney Springs sounds as boring as its name.
September 30, 2015 at 11:49 AM · @Vaughn Miller - You may not like to go to a shopping center when your on vacation but there thousands that do. There are huge outlets right off property that are packed with tourists that proves that. We were at Disney Springs yesterday and love that they have opened one of the ramps to the parking garage, it definitely makes it easier to get in to the parking garage.

We will be going again tonight again because we have reservations for Morimoto Asia, cant wait. As a local I'm excited about the new restaurants that are being attracted to the property. If it weren't for the revamp we might not have had access to such world class dining.

September 30, 2015 at 12:04 PM · After battling crowds at Downtown Disney, I'm reminded of Yogi Berra's old quotation: 'No one goes there, it's always so crowded!' ??
September 30, 2015 at 2:07 PM · GeneP........You have illustrated my point. As a local you will go shopping and out for dinner on a regular basis. When we are there on vacation again, in a couple f years, we will probably also go for dinner. When you are flying across country you need to watch weight restrictions on luggage. Again it may just be the distances that we have travel o reach the parks but to use your days in a shopping mall and not at the parks or the beach.

I guess it comes down to your own preference I would rather spend my vacation days making memories with my family, I can always shop online.

September 30, 2015 at 5:00 PM · Mr. Miller writes: "I must be missing something ..."

I Respond: Sure seems like it.

Mr. Miller writes: "... Disney Springs is a shopping center ..."

I Respond: Actually it's a large development that features (or will eventually feature) shopping and specialty shopping, dining and themed dining, a world class theater production (Cirque), one of the region's best concert venues (HOB), an outdoor theater, live music (currently Bongos, Splitsville and the porch at HOB -- with more to come), attractions (those auto-boat things and 'Characters in Flight'), recreation (Splitsville), a multiplex movie theater, a multi-media sports venue (The NBA Experience) and a unique atmosphere that will draw millions of locals and vacationing guests from out of state and country.

Yep, it will be a destination on its own.

October 1, 2015 at 1:26 AM · It sounds nice to me. Visitors from Australia and Canada will go there. A lot of Australians visit America with an empty suitcase and fill it up with clothes and shoes because you don't have to pay import taxes on those and shoes in Australia are 3x or more US full retail price. Shoes in Canada are also at least 2x and in both places the selection is limited for everything. If you live in a fairly large city in the US, I can see why Disney Springs might not impress you that much, but for people who live far from a large US city or international travelers, Disney Springs should be well attended, as well as by locals.

I'm glad they are expanding on the size. One year we were at DLR for 2 weeks (one week for each set of grandparents/aunts+uncles), but only went into the park for 5 days. The rest of the time we were at the pool or Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney at DLR was a little bit sparse for that type of thing, but our kids were very little and we weren't going to be traveling to Universal or anything like that. We took a shuttle to the mall, but it took quite a while especially with LA traffic. I'm sure Disney Springs is much easier to get to for people staying at WDW hotels. In the future I'd like to do the same type of thing at WDW, maybe staying a little longer and getting a 10 day pass.

October 1, 2015 at 1:46 AM · @Gabriel: Back in April, Disney announced that their WDW bus fleet was switching to using Renewable Diesel. From the press release: "With its significant investment in innovation, the resort anticipates a nearly 50 percent reduction of the green house gases contributed to the environment by Disney guest buses, as well as an overall reduction of 3.5 percent at Walt Disney World Resort."

(I'm fairly new here, so I'm not sure if placing links in comments is okay or not. But, if you want to read the source of that quote, you can try entering "Disney World buses renewable diesel" in a search engine.)

October 1, 2015 at 6:44 AM · Got to eat at Morimoto Asia last night, it was fantastic. What made it even better we got to meet the man himself and take a picture with him. Iron Chef Morimoto
October 1, 2015 at 7:05 AM · It should be called... "there's no Adventurer's Club Here".

I'm intrigued by the Indiana Jones Bar by nothing else.

October 1, 2015 at 6:31 PM · For 150.242.32.36, I'm from Australia, and whilst when we visit the US we take an empty bag for shopping, I rarely do much shopping at theme park malls, most of our bag is filled at outlets. The attached shopping malls like DD, DS or citywalk generally have a premium on all there goods, and little saving is to be had.

Unfortunately we are now also stuck with a weakened dollar and most savings are lost, so on our next trip we will need to be more thrifty.

October 2, 2015 at 1:41 PM · My kids (13, 11, 10, 5) are very sad that DisneyQuest is going away. I know for a lot of people, the quality of the current DisneyQuest experience is deteriorating and thus something they won't miss. But a lot of kids (and adults like myself) still seem to love the initial idea of DisneyQuest... an indoor video game park... especially the free old-school cabinet video games or the create your own virtual rollercoaster stuff.
I'm not sure this new NBA experience area is going to attract the crowds they are hoping it attracts. Is anybody out there wanting to go to this new NBA thing?
In any case, we made our last trip there during the first week of September and everyone had a great time. Sorry to see it go.
Any idea where they will move most of the DisneyQuest games and hardware to?
October 2, 2015 at 3:11 PM · I'm an NBA fan and I could never convince my mom to eat at NBA city even though it had good food. If Universal can't support NBA City, I don't really see it working at Disney. I think an all inclusive sports bar like a bigger ESPN zone would have been better. The only way I could see it maybe working is if they include courts and hold AAU basketball events from ESPN WWOS there.

I'm not a fan of Disney Springs, the new parking garages are complete chaos. No one directs you where to park and everyone was speeding around trying cutting people off to read how many spaces were left and the signs would give the wrong number.

The restaurants are way too expansive and do not add much for kids and offer no character dining. The biggest draws are still Trex and Rainforest which are very dated. As a local I would go to Resturant row, Point Orlando, Winter Park Village, Citywalk, or Park Avenue in Winter Park before trying to deal with all that traffic and walking. Disney did not add any covered walkways so when it rains City Walk or Point Orlando are better options for seeing movies without getting soaked on your way in. For the ten year wait after Pleasure Island closed, I'm not impressed at all. Disney can do better

October 2, 2015 at 8:37 PM · Mr. Hudson writes/asks: "I'm not sure this new NBA experience area is going to attract the crowds they are hoping it attracts. Is anybody out there wanting to go to this new NBA thing?"

I Respond: The most recent NBA finals broke all previous television ratings ... so yeah.

Anonymous (74.235.192.129): " If Universal can't support NBA City, I don't really see it working at Disney."

I Respond: Universal gave it up after losing the NBC television broadcast rights ... Disney/ABC has them locked up. Further, Universal did not have an ESPN to add support ... This will not be a restautant, it will be an attraction. And it sure as hell will be better than that NBC thing that they just threw up at CityWalk.

October 6, 2015 at 11:55 AM · Every time my family and I go to Disney World we plan on one evening at Downtown Disney. We enjoy the shops, the scenery and just to walk around and have something to do. However, I do not care for the new name. I guess I don't understand what's so "Springs" about it. It should have been name something in reference to shops or attractions. Overall, my family and I enjoy Downtown Disney and parking is FREE as opposed to City Walk.

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