As far as I’m concerned, a visit to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without a trip to Disney Springs. Every time we go, there are new shops to explore, new restaurants to try and new cocktails to sip! Most of the venues at this brand new shopping, dining and entertainment hug are now open and the whole area is looking absolutely gorgeous. Here’s all you need to know about Disney Springs.
If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, the complimentary bus and water transport options will whisk you to the area. If you’re driving, there’s tons of free parking in the fruit salad parking garage (we parked in the orange area, but there’s also lime and another area near the Marketplace called lemon).
Dining at Disney Springs
One of the best things about Disney Springs is the fabulous array of dining options. You can choose between anything from a cupcake from the cupcake ATM (yes really) to fine dining and everything in between.
I’ve heard amazing things about this fabulous gothic restaurant, based at The Landing area of Disney Springs (so if you’re walking down towards The Boathouse with STK on your right, The Edison is on your left). This enormous restaurant features some fabulous steampunk detailing, with lots of copper, machinery and bare light bulbs – many are original 1950s items – plus an old steam engine and a massive clock. The food is classic American – expect big portions! The Edison also puts on some wonderful shows including cabaret and live music. Bear in mind, though, that although it’s a family place during the day, rules apply after 10pm, when it becomes over 21s only and dress rules apply (plus a $10 cover charge). Dining plans are not accepted here.
From the same stable as The Edison (and conveniently just next door), Maria and Enzo’s is a gorgeous new Italian trattoria, stylishly themed on an Art Deco airline terminal and the added advantage of beautiful views over Lake Buena Vista. Be warned, though – Disney dining plans are not accepted here.
Also in the same location and completing the new Italian offerings is Pizza Ponte. This quick service (non Dining plan) restaurant serves Sicilian-style pizza by the slice, Italian style sandwiches and delicious Italian pastries and coffee.
Coming soon: Enzo’s Hideaway, which will be a ‘Prohibition-era speakeasy’ serving cocktails and classic Italian pasta dishes.
This buzzy, fine dining restaurant and bar, located at The Landing area of Disney Springs has a warm, fun atmosphere and is a great choice for a special evening out. The cocktails are great (as is the wine list) and as the sun goes down, the resident DJ cranks up the tunes, making you want to dance in your seat! It’s open for lunch and dinner (I’d say it was less geared to families than some of the other venues, especially during the evening) and there’s a great outside patio area too. Our favourites were the crispy rock shrimp with chilli remoulade (a massive portion – we recommend you share) and the incredibly good steaks. STK also offers a market fish of the day. My Florida grouper with pickled squash, cherry tomatoes and guajillo chilli jam was outstanding. Oh, and order the parmesan truffle fries – they’re huge too and completely delicious.
I love the Boathouse. It’s a fine dining, water front restaurant serving great cocktails, classic American steaks and seafood in a really lovely setting. For menu choices, I’d recommend their fabulous premium steaks, and also this delicious coconut shrimp appetiser. There’s also a lovely outdoor area if you fancy more casual dining (go for the lobster rolls).
My friend Laura was at Disney Springs this summer and highly recommended Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza where you choose from a huge range of toppings to create your own personal pizza, and I’m hearing great things about D-Luxe Burger (burgers are apparently incredible and there are some knockout desserts, which I shall be trying very soon).
Paddlefish is a fabulous old paddle steamer ‘moored’ on Lake Buena Vista serving fresh seafood, steaks and chops for lunch, dinner and there’s also a very popular Sunday brunch, plus there’s an amazing new rooftop lounge with fantastic views of the water and Disney Springs. The interior is fresh and modern, and the staff are really friendly too. Be warned, if you order the fish and chips, you can definitely share it – the portions are HUGE! If there’s a few of you, I highly recommend ordering the lobster guacamole which is made fresh at the table. It’s absolutely delicious.
The brand new restaurant at Planet Hollywood Observatory serves burgers and sandwiches created by celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, and craft cocktails with names inspired by the planets and space travel. The outdoor Stargazers Bar is a really lovely area to sit and sip a cocktail, it overlooks a lovely water feature, and you can watch the balloon going up and down too. So pretty.
Sadly, when we arrived, the food trucks were still closed (they open in the evening from 5pm). The shrimp and lobster mac and cheese at Superstar Catering comes highly recommended by an Orlando friend.
For a quick snack, especially if you’re a hotdog lover, head to B B Wolf’s Sausage Co, a hotdog stand with a difference. I tried the ‘3 little pigs trio’: three mini hotdogs with a range of different toppings: Reuben, bacon with black bean salsa, and chilli cheese – all served with delicious pickles. The sausages are really great quality and the hotdogs were fresh and delicious.
Another great lunch spot is Cookes of Dublin – the fish and chips are hot, fresh and delicious. The portions are huge, so if you’re just stopping for lunch, I’d recommend ordering the kids’ portion!
For sweet treats, there’s that cupcake ATM, or maybe a decadent hot fudge sundae from from iconic Ghirardelli’s, or classic Italian gelati from Vivoli Il Gelato.
Shopping at Disney Springs
Of course you can’t visit Disney Springs without a visit to the huge World of Disney store, but there are loads of new shops now open. We loved the quirky things for the home and beautiful clothes at Anthropologie; gorgeous, bright prints at Lilly Pulitzer; the Disney collection at Ugg; and the Kate Spade New York for Minnie Mouse collection.
If you love your beauty bits, there’s a huge Sephora, a massive Zara and an equally massive Uniqlo. We also discovered a gorgeous boutique called Sugarboo & Co, which is kind of like a lovely mashup between the homeware and trinkety things in Anthropologie, mixed with a bit of Oliver Bonas: lots of inspirational quotes, notepads, and lovely collectible things for the home. For Star Wars fans, there’s Star Wars Galactic Outpost, and for Marvel fans there’s Superhero Headquarters. Oh and don’t forget to try the free chocolate samples in The Ganachery and pick up some beautiful hand made chocolates.
The Coca Cola store is a must visit, plus you can visit the rooftop bar for the fab view and a choice of Coca Cola based drinks.
Entertainment at Disney Springs
In the evening, Disney Springs really comes alive. It’s so pretty to walk around with all the twinkly lights and fountains, and there’s often live outdoor entertainment. You’ll find classical artists at Riverboat Square, modern live performances at Springs Overlook, and live bands or DJs performing on the Waterside Stage, as well as live Irish music at Raglan Road. Paradiso 37 at The Landing features live Latin music, as well as fabulous Latin cuisine (and 75 different types of tequila if you fancy a drink!).
For families, head to the brilliant Splitsville Luxury Lanes for great retro-themed bowling (and fabulous food too) or book tickets to see the mesmerising La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil at Le Theatre at the West Side of Disney Springs.
Check out the fabulous vintage amphicars near the Boathouse, which drive straight into the water and give you a wonderful water-based tour of Disney Springs:
Or maybe dine while you watch a movie at AMC Disney Springs (what a great idea – why don’t we have more of these cinemas?). Oh and don’t forget to take a spin on the gorgeous Marketplace Carousel.
Phew! I think that’s it for the time being, but as I return and discover more, I’ll continue to update. For more Disney tips and insider info, check out my main Walt Disney World top tips post here, and for Walt Disney World holidays, visit www.disneyholidays.co.uk/walt-disney-world.