Disney Springs: The Park Outside the Park
Whether you’re looking for something a little different from the “been there, done that,” or you’ve planned several days at Disney World, (or somehow roller coasters, Cinderella’s castle, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, characters walking the streets and about 500 other amazing things aren’t your theme park jam) it’s time to hit Disney Springs – the park outside the park.
It’s true: not all theme parks are created alike. However, one thing is for sure… fun for all ages was meant for Disney Springs. Located at Walt Disney World Resort, this outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex does not disappoint. Here is your insider’s guide to making the most of your time at this phenomenal park outside the park.
Divided into four unique neighborhoods—West Side, The Landing, Town Center, The Marketplace—mapping out your day at Disney Springs is not only time efficient, it will let you hit all the important spots. You don’t have to firmly stick to your schedule as we’re sure you’ll find hidden gems you didn’t know to put on your list. However, planning ahead will give you some guidance. One thing to note – if you drive, park your car near your planned last stop for the day.
If you’re planning specific entertainment during your day at Disney Springs, plan your visit around that event. If you have dinner reservations before your planned event, arrive at least two hours ahead of time – we recommend three hours to be safe.
- West Side: Adding an industrial aspect to Disney Springs, this neighborhood includes several popular restaurants and entertainment offerings including a bowling alley and movie theater.
- The Landing: Once called Pleasure Island, The Landing plays host to several restaurants with beautiful waterfront views and new buildings that have been creatively “Imagineered” to look like they’ve been there for years.
- Town Center: Themed after Florida’s turn-of-the-century waterfront towns, the Town Center includes over 30 shops and a variety of dining options.
- The Marketplace: The most family-friendly of the neighborhoods is home to many popular shops at Disney Springs. Its “Village Causeway” bridge connects The Lego Store area across the water to The Rainforest Cafe.
There is much family fun to be had at Disney Springs – you could truly spend an entire day there with the family. Here are our top picks:
- Aerophile Characters in Flight: Soar above Disney Springs in the world’s largest, hand-painted helium balloon!
- The Lego Store: Explore this colossal dream world of LEGO with its eye-catching Pick-A-Brick Wall, hands-on play tables and larger-than-life Disney models.
- Amphicar Boat Rides: Cruise Lake Buena Vista and see the sights from the water aboard an Amphicar or Italian water taxi.
- Outside the Park Character Dining: On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, grab the kiddos and head over to the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista to dine with classic Disney characters during breakfast.
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes: Bowl the night away and enjoy an upscale new spin on a classic American pastime at this modern take on a bowling alley.
- And so much more!
Parking (Yes, It’s a Big Deal)
Disney Springs is big – but no worries, it offers ample parking. With two garages, two surface lots, valet stations and more, visitors who drive to the park have multiple parking options. Tips, tricks and things to note:
- If you planned ahead for your day, park near where your last stop will be – to save your feet at the end of the day.
- Pay attention to the signs and lights in the parking garages – they will tell you how many spots are open in each row and also show you where those open spots are located.
- Park on the west side and start your day there. End your day at the Marketplace and take the boat back to square one.
- Other boat routes: West Side to The Landing Dock; The Landing Dock to the Marketplace Dock.
- A pedestrian bridge connects the Marketplace to The Landing.
Many shops and restaurants offer discounts for visitors with Disney Visa cards, Disney annual passes, and those who are Disney Vacation Club members. Be prepared to ask for your discount – they will most likely not offer it up to you without prompting.
Book Your Vacation Home Accommodations
There is much to experience at Disney Springs – so much, in fact, it could take several days to enjoy all of it. After your Disney Springs day comes to an end, come home to Encore Resort at Reunion. Rest easy while enjoying the comfort and amenities of our guard-gated community, which features modern, beautifully decorated 3- to 13-bedroom homes with backyard pools, washer/dryer units, and fully equipped kitchens, plus resort-style amenities like an AquaPark and concierge services.