It is all happening at The Springs.

Edited: August 6, 2017, 8:28 AM

Last night (Saturday) Bambi and I were at a high-end fundraiser at the Orlando World Center. I do a fair share of work in support of ‘Give Kids the World Village.’ The annual WCI gala for the village is always on our calendar.

After the opening speeches and dinner, we decided to bolt. Not wanting to head back to THC Headquarters (It’s nice ... We have a pool … You should stop by) we decided to drop into Disney Springs. Bambi had a gift card she wanted to burn through and we had a birthday present we needed to pick up. We figured we could walk around and enjoy a “properly tuned adult beverage” (to quote Colonel Critchlow from the Adventurer’s Club [RIP]).

So it’s a Saturday night. We knew things would be busy. But still, it was such a PLEASURE driving down Buena Vista Drive. So many of the TPI WDW bash team growl about crowds and lines at the park. A lot of these same folks have moaned about the pace of development (“Disney is cheap!”) of attractions – often dismissing the massive investment in roads and bridges (civil) as “boring.”

But I gotta tell ya … The roadwork completed at Disney Springs is AWESOME! Traffic rolls! No bumper-to-bumper aggravation. Compared to what has happened in the past, driving through Disney Springs is like being on a paid vacation.

So we get near the Springs and start making plans to park and … “Orange Lot Full” … “Lime Lot Full.”


We end up parking at the casting castle and make our way across the street. Not a perfect situation but frankly, not all that inconvenient. Five minute walk.

So we enter around the area where Basin is (Bambi’s gift card) and two seconds into the visit I was blown away. Disney Springs was alive! Thousands of people. All kinds of activity.

There was a DJ on the Marketplace Stage who had the crowd jumping. It was followed by a live band. Over at The Landing, an electronic quartet was entertaining guests. A human statue was posing for pics across from Volcom. The strolling piano player was in her spot near Uniqlo. And people were everywhere … Enjoying the atmosphere … Wandering through the stores … Lining up for food and drinks … Spending money.

And yet the crowds were not intrusive. The setting was exciting … fun. During the 90 minutes we were there we covered about a third of the complex. When you consider that the extraordinary success of Disney Springs has hit before the NBA Experience, The Edison, the Neverland Tunnels, the Star Wars VR experience, Wine Bar George and whatever will replace Cirque in the big white theater have opened … I mean … My God … You have to be impressed. You have to believe that Disney will sustain this level of vibrance and vitality.

Replies (29)

August 6, 2017, 9:26 AM

I went to Disney Springs for the first time in 6 or 7 years in June. My family loved it so much we came back the next night.

August 6, 2017, 2:00 PM

Plus american idol auditions are coming to disney springs this month through to mid September. It says it's only going to be more of a pop up marquee audition were people just go to sing in front of a camera. That will probably bring a lot more people there.
As a side note, does anyone know if they are still building the restaurant called Walts?, it was in the original plans to go next to the Edison but I haven't heard anything on that front in a while.

August 7, 2017, 12:57 PM

I haven't heard much about Walt's in awhile. The Neverland Tunnels have also gone a bit silent.

Edited: August 7, 2017, 1:20 PM

Oh boy...I can't wait for my trip in October when I can experience Disney's refurbished glorified outlet mall first hand, spend time in the theme park equivalent to Hamilton, and enjoy the EPCOT F&W Festival (we have reservations for a wine party at STK/Wine Bar George) while getting prepped for the 50th Anniversary of WDW!!

You'd be a lot more credible TH if you'd chill out with the hyperbole and just say that traffic is a lot better around Disney Springs because of the new roads and parking garages and that the complex was buzzing with activity. Let's face it, Disney needed to solve the traffic issue around Downtown Disney, just like they did at DL in California, and it sounds like they did a good job, along with re-balancing the stores, restaurants, and attractions to make sure guests are better spread out across the complex. By doing so, more people are willing and able to visit, and the Disney Springs overlay appears to have brought a refresh to a tired concept. They brought in A-list restaurant operators and fresher retailers that appeal across the wide breadth of international visitors visiting the resort.

I appreciate your first-hand account of the place, but you could stand to reduce your Kool-Aid intake a bit.

Edited: August 8, 2017, 5:54 AM

@ Mr. Meyer: How about if I post what I want -- using the words and phrases I choose to use (within the site's TOS) -- and you post what you want using the words and phrases you choose to use?

I hope your visit in Florida is enjoyable for both you and your family.

August 8, 2017, 5:39 PM

I was one that thought this whole Disney Springs thing was a stupid gimmick...

I was wrong.

Edited: August 9, 2017, 4:57 AM

Careful, Anthony. If you write what you think someone may question your credibility.


August 8, 2017, 6:56 PM

I personally enjoy the optimism of TH compared to the constant pessimism and criticism of others on this site.

Disney Springs is definitely a destination in and of itself now. My family went last week and loved it. It has an incredible atmosphere and has a ton to do. The parking lots were full when we went as well (a Wednesday night), but you can normally grab a spot from someone leaving.

August 9, 2017, 1:05 AM

* Smiles *

August 9, 2017, 6:00 AM


Brought to you by the Disney Marketing Team.

Edited: August 9, 2017, 6:47 AM

People were going to Downtown Disney in droves before it was re-branded Disney Springs. Disney saw they had a successful model for a glorified outlet mall, and made it better (save for Pleasure Island). They saw surface lots constantly full and a nightmare of traffic, and built parking garages and direct access ramps. They saw stores/restaurants coming and going like any other mall in America, which unbalanced the flow of the complex (more places of interest on the east compared to the west - split in half by PI), and created new areas anchored by new stores and points of interest.

I'm not doubting the success Disney Springs has become, but let's take it for what it is. Let's also recognize that Disney took a proven concept (Town Center-style outlet mall) and gave it a bit of a kick in the pants with some Disney touches. They also listened to criticism of the complex regarding the parking and traffic hassles. My point is that Disney Springs was a natural, necessary evolution for the complex to remain viable, and is not a earth shattering, revolutionary, or iconic destination as some here would like to espouse.

10-15 years from now, Disney will probably refresh the complex again, to which TH will likely trumpet as one of many small steps to WDW's 75th Anniversary.

August 9, 2017, 7:49 AM

Mr. Meyer describes Disney Springs as "a glorified outlet mall."

I Respond: How many "outlet" stores are located at Disney Springs?

Edited: August 9, 2017, 8:11 AM

How many actual "outlet" stores are located in "Outlet Malls" these days???

Almost half of the stores in Disney Springs you would find in your typical outlet mall.

August 9, 2017, 8:09 AM

Not sure. I am just wondering how you came to the conclusion that it is a "glorified outlet mall." Did you get that impression when you visited Disney Springs? Not questioning your opinion -- especially if you had a bad experience during your visit.

Edited: August 9, 2017, 8:19 AM

I have not visited since it officially became "Disney Springs", but the look and feel of the complex (as it was before and as I've seen it now through pictures, though it appears to be improved from a flow and logistical perspective) is similar to outlet malls in my part of the country (Washington DC). Perhaps we have nicer outlet malls here (Potomac Mills, Arundel Mills, Tanger Outlets, etc...), but aside from the unique Disney Stores (Once Upon a Toy and Wonderful World of Disney), which are really just oversized versions of Disney Stores you would find at your local mall or outlet mall, there's very little different, even the street entertainment, movie theater, and restaurants.

I don't see Disney Springs as anything out of the ordinary, and the changes made from Downtown Disney were necessary to make the complex viable and allow it to grow and fill all the empty storefronts that were proliferating across the complex and that resulted from the closing of Pleasure Island.

August 9, 2017, 8:18 AM

Mr. Meyer writes: "lmost half of the stores in Disney Springs you would find in your typical outlet mall."

I Respond: Could you identify say maybe six? I can help. Tommy Bahama would be one Under Armor would be another. Volcom would be three. Maybe American Threads (notsure) would be four. Since Disney claims there are 50 retail outlets, I guess we have 21 more to identify to get to "half."


August 9, 2017, 8:19 AM

Oh you have not visited Disney Springs ... Ahhhh ... That's interesting.

August 9, 2017, 8:24 AM

"Could you identify say maybe six?"

Anthropologie, Build a Bear, Columbia, Everything But Water, Fit 2 Run, Kate Spade, Lego Store, Levi's...

Shall I continue???

August 9, 2017, 8:31 AM

Now I see the disconnect. I wrote my piece after I actually spent the Saturday night at Disney Springs. I have actually been to Disney Springs.

On the other hand, you are forming your opinion based on ... well, since you haven't been there I am not sure what you are basing your opinion on.

Maybe it will change when you actually experience Disney Springs. The way Anthony's did -- as he mentioned in his post on this thread. Or maybe you will concur with JackCH who has also actually visited Disney Springs ("Disney Springs is definitely a destination in and of itself now. My family went last week and loved it.")

And again, I hope you and your family have a great time when you visit in the near future.


Edited: August 9, 2017, 10:14 AM

"Oh you have not visited Disney Springs"

Not since it officially was rebranded...The last time we were there, they were in the process of reworking the east side into The Marketplace, and had just released the plans to rename the complex and had begun ground work on the parking garages and ramps. I do think the added restaurants make it more than your typical outlet mall, but changing the name and giving it a loose theme (and goofy backstory) doesn't change the fact it's a retail outlet where people walk around and buy stuff from stores they may or may not be able to find at home. Throw out the Disney-centric stores, La'Nouba (which is going away at the end of the year anyway), and Characters in Flight, and there are few things at Disney Springs that I cannot find at one of the handful of outlet malls within a hour of my house.

Call me a skeptic, but changing the name, and filling empty stores won't change the fact that Disney Springs/Downtown Disney is nothing more than a glorified outlet mall. It is and always will be Disney's answer to CityWalk, and another avenue for Disney to extract a few more shekels from guests before they leave, and a place for guests to kill time between theme parks. There's nothing wrong with that, but let's not put it on par with an actual theme park, which is about as sensible as calling Krakatau a roller coaster, oh wait.

Edited: August 9, 2017, 8:36 AM

What year was your last visit?

Edited: August 9, 2017, 8:47 AM

We last visited WDW in October 2014. Disney had announced the DS concept and was just starting groundwork on the garages when we were last there.

We would have gone last fall (we had routinely visited WDW every 2 years), but we were waiting for the theme park equivalent of Hamilton to be completed, so we're waiting until October for our next visit.

August 9, 2017, 8:57 AM

Again, maybe your opinion will change when you actually visit.

Edited: August 9, 2017, 9:53 AM

I will visit with an open mind. As I already noted, we are going to a F&W Festival event at STK/Wine Bar George (one of the first events at the new rooftop venue), and I never leave WDW without a visit to Once Upon a Toy (I'm a bit of a Star Wars toy collector), so I'll walk through at least most of the east side of the complex on our trip. I'll let you know what I think, and if the changes made over the past 3 years have elevated it beyond a glorified outlet mall.

August 14, 2017, 5:04 AM

Russell, I think your opinion will change. 2014 was a terrible Downtown Disney/Disney Springs year. Half the place was under construction. Now with it being 95% completed, its night and day.

As for the stores, it really depends on where you are from. I am from Chicago so most of the newer stores don't really excite me. You are right. They can be found in malls and outlet malls, but the thing to remember is that not every guest is from a place with a thriving mall or outlet mall. The Midwest is littered with them. I will admit that I have been in like 3 of the new stores, but I keep going back.

I think the vast improvement on Disney Springs are the restaurants. Morimoto's, Homecommin, and the Boathouse have become three of the most popular restaurants in all of Disney World overnight.

August 14, 2017, 6:23 PM

I'm with Russell on this... Was just there last week when I spent a night at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace and had some time to kill. Really wasn't that interested in anything past the original "Disney Village" area. The stores in Disney Springs can pretty much be found anywhere (except the Star Wars store, and there's another very similar to it in the older part of the area). Not to mention the construction that's still going on, including a restaurant called "The Edison" which looks to me like an effort just to clone Toothsome's steampunk vibe over at CityWalk.

I'm not knocking Disney on this one (the floating cars at the Boathouse are seriously cool!), but I didn't find anything there compelling enough to make me want to make a special trip.

August 15, 2017, 5:07 AM

Once again, not everybody is from an area where these stores are common. If you are not from the East Coast, Chicago, California, or Florida, these are not all common stores.

August 18, 2017, 12:25 PM

La Nouba, Splitsville, House of Blues, Characters in Flight, pending NBA Experience and Star Wars VR experiences. As for The Edison ... The concept pre-dated the (add $20 to park) ice cream parlor at UOCW.

August 21, 2017, 4:22 PM

On our recent trip to WDW, we spent an evening and an afternoon at Disney Springs enjoying the stores, food, and ambiance. The area looked fantastic with enough shops and dining options to satisfy a wide variety of people. We had dinner at the redone Planet Hollywood Observatory where the Guy Fieri "Flavortown" burgers were off the charts delicious, and the specialty shakes as rich and sweet as they were out of control. Our lunch at Art Smith's Homecoming was also terrific with the shrimp and grits being a surprising standout among an assortment of delectable options.

Disney Springs was an exciting part of our WDW tour - if I was a local it would definitely be a place I visited on a regular basis.

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