There are enough activities and restaurants that you could spend a full day exploring the best things to do in Disney Springs, but most families spend a half day there.
Disney Springs, previously known as Downtown Disney, is a dining and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World.
As an Orlando local, I love going to Disney Springs for a date night or family meal. In this post I’ll share my 9 favorite things to do:
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Best Things to Do at Disney Springs
Eat and Drink
Delight your taste buds at several unique restaurants
One of the best parts about visiting Disney Springs is getting access to more than 50 restaurants, bars, lounges, and snack stands. Drinking “around the world” at Epcot gets all the attention, but don’t underestimate how much fun a Disney Springs bar crawl (or snack crawl) can be. There are endless options of different cuisines and price ranges for anyone looking for a meal.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista connects to Disney Springs with convenient elevated walkways. I also have articles about the Best Disney World Hotels and Where to Stay at Disney World.
Head 400 feet in the air for unmatched views of Walt Disney World
Are you interested in seeing a bird’s eye view of the Walt Disney World Resort? Hop on the Aerophile, a hot air balloon that takes you 400 ft above Disney Springs.
Not only can you see views of the surrounding Disney Springs area and Lake Buena Vista, but you can see across the entire Walt Disney World Resort. Keep an eye out for Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios, and the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
👉 Pro Tip: From the air, you can see the nearby Lake Buena Vista hotels. This is one of the best Places to Stay in Orlando.
Disney PhotoPass Studio
Capture family memories to last a lifetime
The Disney PhotoPass Studio is a hidden gem for capturing family photos of your Disney vacation. When you’re at the theme parks, you’re probably more focused on enjoying your time than taking photos.
Take a short time out of your trip to visit Disney Springs and the Disney PhotoPass Studio. A photographer can set your family up with a variety of backdrops to take the perfect vacation photo. This service is completely free and you can purchase the photos at the studio or through your My Disney Experience app.
Drawn to Life Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Disney animation comes to life before your eyes
On the west side of Disney Springs, you can’t miss the picturesque white tent of Cirque du Soleil. The theater is currently home to Drawn to Life, a collaboration between the company, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Imagineering. Drawn to Life beautifully blends the Disney magic of animation with the acrobatic skills that Cirque du Soleil is known for.
AMC Dine-In Theatres
Enjoy dinner and a movie the right way
When planning a vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort, seeing a movie may not be at the top of your list. You’d be surprised how much you can enjoy sitting back and relaxing after a couple of days at the theme parks.
Plus, AMC Disney Springs has several Dine-In Theatres where you can order food and drinks directly to your seats. There is no better way to enjoy a flick.
Stock up on your Disney souvenirs
One of my top Disney World tips is not to buy souvenirs at a theme park. You’ll end up carrying around your purchases all day or trying to stuff them into a stroller. Instead, do your shopping at Disney Springs. If you forget anything on your Disney packing list, there is a wide selection of shops to get what you need!
Here, you can find Disney merchandise at several stores, including Disney’s Days of Christmas Store, the World of Disney (the largest Disney store in the world), Disney Style, and the Art of Disney gallery.
You can also find your favorite brands and specialty shops, like the Coca-Cola Store, the LEGO Store, The Crystal Arts by Arribas Brothers, Ron Jon Surf Shop, and Lilly Pulitzer.
Splitsville Luxury Lanes
Strike down the pins in this upscale bowling alley
Splitsville Luxury Lanes is unlike any other bowling alley that I’ve been to. This two-story building has a restaurant, 5 bars, billiards tables, and 30 bowling lanes. The food here is far superior to typical bowling alley pizza and wings. You can enjoy sandwiches, sushi, pizza, and more.
👉 Pro Tip: Your reservation is for a set amount of time, based on the number of people in your party. I recommend eating before or after you bowl so you can get in as many games as possible. For views of Disney Springs and a nice atmosphere, ask to sit near the windows upstairs.
Enjoy Live Entertainment
Take in the sounds throughout Disney Springs
Throughout Disney Springs, you can see live music and entertainers. Some of these performers play live music at set locations, like the AdventHealth Waterside Stage, Raglan Road Irish Pub, and the House of Blues outdoor patio.
In addition, there is wandering entertainment putting on magic shows, acrobatic performances, or even playing a movie piano. This entertainment is free for everyone visiting Disney Springs.
👉 Pro Tip: Check the House of Blues concert calendar to see if your favorite band will be playing during your Disney trip!
Drive right into the water for this unique amphibious adventure
We may not have invented flying cars yet, but we have invented Amphicars! These car-boat hybrids have vintage designs and less than 400 exist worldwide. You’ll get into your vehicle and then your captain will drive the Amphicar into the water to start the tour. Enjoy the views of Disney Springs from the water during this truly one-of-a-kind activity.
Best Restaurants & Bars at Disney Springs
Disney Springs has plenty of activities and shopping, but I think the restaurants are the best attractions. You can grab a quick bite at a snack stand, enjoy a visit to one of the themed restaurants, or dine on dishes created by celebrity chefs.
Enjoy Iron Chef Morimoto’s Asian cuisine
I always recommend Morimoto ASIA as my favorite restaurant at Disney Springs. The atmosphere is impeccable and the food is delicious. Chef Masaharu Morimoto has put together a phenomenal menu featuring simple but elegant Asian cuisine.
👉 Love Iron Chef? You have to try the Morimoto “Buri Bop”, the chef’s take on Korean bibimbap using yellowtail. He created this dish on Iron Chef and it is prepared tableside.
Sit back and enjoy a drink along the water
Whether you are stopping for one drink or trying a few around Disney Springs, Dockside Margaritas should be at the top of your list. The drinks are fantastic, but the ambiance makes the experience. You can usually find a musician filling the waterfront seating around with relaxing music. This spot gives you one of the most beautiful sunsets at Walt Disney World.
Get dinner and a show at this Irish pub
If I’m not at Morimoto ASIA, you can find me at Raglan Road Irish Pub. This lively restaurant has 3 stages for musicians and dancers, 4 bars to sit at, and plenty of tables for dining. The menu has traditional pub food made perfectly.
I don’t necessarily want to give away my secret spot, but the Hole in the Wall Bar between Raglan Road and Cookes of Dublin is the perfect spot in Disney Springs to sit back and enjoy a drink.
👉 Pro Tip: If you have food allergies or restrictions, Raglan Road does a great job of accommodating. Many of their dishes can be altered to fit your needs.
Coca-Cola Rooftop Bar
Taste beverages from around the world
On top of the Coca-Cola Store, you can find the rooftop bar. Here, everyone can enjoy their favorite sodas or try something new from around the world. There are also alcoholic beverages available. The rooftop gives you prime views of Disney Springs and the nearby lake.
Try unexpected flavors and massive desserts
Gideon’s Bakehouse was an Orlando hidden gem for quite a while before they opened their Disney Springs location. They are known for their enormous cookies, but also have coffee and other baked goods. It is so popular that the shop uses a virtual queue on most days because the line can be more than 1-2 hours long.
Swirls on the Water
Delight in your favorite DOLE Whip
One of the most iconic Disney snacks is DOLE Whip. Originally, this sweet treat could only be found in Adventureland. Now, you can enjoy this treat at the Swirls on the Water stand at Disney Springs. Try specialty flavors and presentations, including a rum topper for your DOLE Whip.
The Polite Pig
Scarf down some delicious barbeque
The Polite Pig is a barbeque restaurant in the town center of Disney Springs. Enjoy a variety of meats smoked to perfection. There are tons of mouthwatering sides. Lighter fare, like the chipotle cobb salad, is also available.
Other Restaurants to Try at Disney Springs:
- Wine Bar George
- Exposition Park Food Trucks
- Rainforest Cafe
- T-Rex Cafe
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC
- Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy
- Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar
Things to Do With Kids at Disney Springs
Build-A-Dino at T-REX
Create a stuffed friend to bring home
Inside the merchandise shop at T-REX Cafe, kids can create their own prehistoric stuffed friend to bring home. The Build-A-Dino location operates just like a Build-A-Bear Workshop. Kids can choose their dinosaur and its accessories for a personalized souvenir.
Goofy’s Candy Co
Enjoy classic treats or create your own
The only thing kids love more than candy is Disney-themed candy. Stop by Goofy’s Candy Co. to pick up some sweet treats. You can even create your own dessert by choosing the type of chocolate and toppings! Personally, I suggest a milk chocolate marshmallow with peanut butter chips and graham cracker crumbs.
Marketplace Carousel and Train
Ride these timeless attractions for simple joy
As a toddler mom, I know that younger kids often need a break from the fast-paced nature of a Disney vacation. Let your kids take a ride on the Disney Springs Marketplace Train Express and Carousel to have some fun at the right speed for them.
The LEGO Store
Let your imagination do the building
Kids (of all ages) are thrilled when they see the selection of LEGO products available at the Disney Springs store. See lifesize LEGO creations of your favorite Disney characters. One fun thing to do is create your own customized Minifigure.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – Currently Unavailable
Transform into a prince or princess
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a makeover salon for kids to transform into princes or princesses. Fairy Godmother’s apprentices work to create a magical experience for every child at the boutique.
This location has been closed since the pandemic, but it will hopefully be opening soon. If your child would like their own transformation, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Magic Kingdom is reopening in August 2022.
FAQs About Visiting Disney Springs
Does Disney Springs have parking?
Disney Springs offers free parking in 3 garages and surface lots. Valet parking is available for $20 per day. If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts, you can use free bus transportation to get to Disney Springs. See our guide to parking at Disney World.
Is Disney Springs worth it?
Disney Springs offers plenty of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options for everyone. It is worth it to include at least a half day of your vacation at Disney Springs. Since Disney Springs is free to access, it is a great place to visit to do Disney World on a budget.
Is Disney Springs free?
Disney Springs is free to visit. A park ticket is not required and standard parking is complimentary.
When planning your Walt Disney World vacation, consider adding some time at Disney Springs. Dine at a fabulous restaurant and grab some souvenirs at your favorite stores.
I hope I’ve helped you find some fun things to do in Disney Springs!
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