Going to college in Florida has its perks. One being that whenever we got bored my friends and I would drive to Orlando and head to Disney Springs (formally known as Downtown Disney). The best part of Disney Spring is that it is free to get in!
Disney Springs is a long strip made up of shops and restaurants. It is open everyday from 10:00am till midnight and is completely family friendly or great for a night out with friends. Keep in mind that there are no rides or Disney characters and you have to pay for all the food, merchandise and entertainment. It always seems to be under construction, as new shops are opening and old ones are closing all the time. However, it is free to enter, to park and great for photo ops…and did I mention the free samples?
What to see
Arribas Brothers. I have to say that I love this store for two reasons. One it that the glass are is breathtaking. Two, its fun to go through and try on all the different princess crowns that they have here.
The LEGO Store! Head over to the lego store and play with legos! There are a handful of tables in the lego store that have buckets of legos in them that you can play with and build. Be sure to look over at the water on your way out to check out the giant dragon make completely of legos!
Trade Pins! If you are a lover of the Disney trading pins be sure to bring yours with you. Almost all of the staff have their lavalieres or pouches with pins on and they have to trade with you if you ask.
Check out a concert. Right across the Ghirardelli store is a stage that sits in front of the water with lots of seating. Many schools and bands play there and you can grab a seat and watch for free!
As I said before, one of the best things about Disney Springs is that there are free samples if you know where to look.
You can get delectable desserts at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop. And right next to it you can buy chocolate from their store. Even if you are not looking to buy anything, go in anyway! The second you enter you are given a free piece of Ghirardelli chocolate!
Head over to the Basin store! Here you can wash your hands with several of their soaps and make your hands feel baby soft. Yes, it sounds weird but it is worth the walk over! You can also try their lip scrubs and lotion for free as well.
If you stop by the Goofy’s Candy Company (all the way at the end of the strip) at just the right time, workers hand out free samples of candy. I’ve been to Disney Springs a ton of times and only actually caught the free samples there twice.
If you head inside of Goofy’s Candy Company, you can ask to try the many flavors of the Goofy’s Glaciers. Its basically a Slurpee Disney style.
Where to Eat (Worth Mentioning)
The Rainforest Cafe! If you have never eaten here you need to get a table! This is one of my favorite places to eat and not just because the food is good. Once you step inside the dinning area you will know what I mean. The restaurant itself is designed to make you feel like you are in an actual rain forest. There are fake animals here and there hidden among the vines and leaves that completely cover the walls. Not only are there waterfalls and animal calls but during dinner you will experience a thunderstorm! You wont miss it when it happens. You will hear thunder, the lights will come in and out the the animals will freak out. Needless to say it is not a quite place to eat, but it is a fun place to take the kids.
T-Rex. This restaurant has the same idea as the Rainforest Cafe- just in a Dino land rather than a rain forest. The food is good but you will NEED to reserve a sport as they fill up fast.
The Express at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe. If you want to sit down along the strip at a table, but not pay too much head to The Express. You can get to go or sit at a table. The food here are simple and delicious. The mac and cheese is to die for!
House of Blues Smokehouse. If you are up for Barbecue this is a great stop to make! Or, treat yourself to a giant turkey leg! If you are looking to sit down you can also get a seat at the House of Blues Restaurant.
The Food Trucks. Within the past year Disney brought four food trucks to the Springs. They over look the water and are great for a quick bite. Each truck sells different foods from around the world. To be honest, I would suggest skipping the food trucks. I’ve never had much luck at any of them as the food is pretty tasteless.
Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. There are some great desserts here. Treat yourself to a thick milkshake or ice cream smothered in chocolate. You can grab to go or have a seat in the air conditioned shop. The line can be very long, so if you are looking to grab something small, like a shake or coffee, you can buy it at the bar inside their store next to the main ice cream bar.
Joffrey’s Smoothies! For smoothie lovers this is a great pit stop. Cool yourself down with a healthy smoothie. Ok, its not healthy at al and probably jam packed with sugar. But they taste great and are a healthier option than a milkshake.
The Candy Cauldron. Ok, so this one is not exactly a food place, but you have to treat yourself to a candy apple while at Disney Springs. Get yourself a dripping green poison apple, a cute Mickey Mouse or many other characters you love.
Disney Quest! If you are looking for somewhere fun to spend your money, this is the place. Disney Quest is basically a giant arcade. The twist? Most of the arcade games are virtual adventures! There are five whole floors where you can choose to play games from pacman to ride on a virtual pirate ship and protect your treasure.
Cirque Du Soleil. At the entrance to the Springs there is a large white permanent tent. This is the home of Cirque Du Soleil, an epic acrobatic show that will amaze you.
See a movie. If you simply have nothing else to do head over to the movies at Disney Springs. They are a lot more expensive there but the theater is huge.
Ride in a hot air balloon. Well, its not a real hot air balloon…but if you want an adventure in the sky take a ride up on the giant balloon tethered to the ground bellow. It’s called Characters in Fight and last about 10minuets for $18.00.
You could spend half the day at Disney Springs. The best times to go would be during the day before everyone gets out of the parks, or during a week night in the off season.
Whenever you decide to go enjoy the day and have a magical adventure!