Guide to Disney Springs for First Time Visitors: Essential Tips and Must-Sees

Guide to Disney Springs for First Time Visitors

Disney Springs is a vibrant outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex located in the heart of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Featuring an eclectic mix of unique boutiques, one-of-a-kind eateries, and jaw-dropping entertainment, the area offers a memorable experience for guests of all ages. With no admission fee, you can stroll through the themed districts, each offering a distinct blend of atmospheres and attractions.

Before you embark on your journey through Disney Springs, it’s essential to understand the layout. The complex is divided into four main areas: The Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center, and West Side. Each zone presents its own unique charm, from the rustic nautical aura of The Landing to the sophisticated contemporary vibe of Town Center.

To make the most of your first visit to Disney Springs, start by exploring the eclectic array of shops. Among them, you’ll find everything from Disney-themed merchandise at the World of Disney to trendy apparel at boutiques like UNIQLO. After shopping, you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in the broadest and most amazing assortment of fare offered by the numerous restaurants, like Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, the Rainforest Cafe or Morimoto Asia. Finish your visit with entertainment options like catching a mesmerizing Cirque du Soleil performance or enjoying the vintage ambiance of a bowling game at Splitsville Luxury Lanes.

Getting to Disney Springs

Disney Springs, the vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment complex located in Lake Buena Vista, is accessible by various transportation options designed to cater to your convenience. Whether arriving by car or using Disney’s complimentary transportation services, getting to Disney Springs is straightforward and hassle-free.

Transportation Options

If you’re staying at a Disney Resort hotel, take advantage of the complimentary bus service to Disney Springs. Buses typically run every 20 minutes, so you can plan your day knowing transportation is readily available. Visitors staying off-site have the option of using the bus services provided by their hotels or local transportation services.

For a scenic route, opt for boat transportation if you’re staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, or Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Enjoy the relaxing cruise across the waters as you approach Disney Springs.

Parking and Valet Services

When driving to Disney Springs, you’ll find ample parking available in the Orange, Lime, and Grapefruit parking garages, as well as surface parking lots like Strawberry, Watermelon, and Mango. These parking areas provide convenient access to different sections of Disney Springs, and best of all, parking is free.

Should you prefer a more direct service, valet parking is offered at several locations throughout Disney Springs for a fee. Simply drive up to the valet kiosk, and the attendants will take care of your vehicle while you enjoy your visit.

Exploring the Districts

Disney Springs is divided into four distinct districts: The Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center, and West Side. Each offers unique shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences.

The Marketplace

The Marketplace is your go-to destination for Disney-themed merchandise. Find the largest selection at World of Disney. Next, ignite your creativity at the LEGO Store, brimming with intricate displays and interactive building opportunities.

The Landing

Dine along the waterfront at The Landing. Taste exquisite seafood at The Boathouse—a must-visit restaurant with its dockside bar and vintage amphicars. This district merges cuisine with atmosphere for an unforgettable experience.

Town Center

Town Center combines contemporary shopping with Disney’s timeless charm. You’ll discover a blend of unique brands alongside Disney-centric boutiques. The architectural beauty adds to the browsing and shopping pleasure here.

West Side

West Side presents an eclectic range of entertainment. From the acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil to the interactive experiences and bowling alleys, it’s a paradise for those seeking fun after dusk. This district keeps the energy high all evening.

Dining at Disney Springs

Disney Springs offers a diverse range of dining options, ensuring that you can find the perfect meal to complement your visit. From quick bites to gourmet experiences, each restaurant provides unique flavors and atmospheres.

Reservation Tips

Secure your dining reservations early to guarantee a spot at your preferred restaurants. Many eateries, particularly signature ones, fill up quickly, so booking 60 days in advance is advisable. If you desire a dining experience at popular locations like Morimoto Asia or Raglan Road, prioritize those when you start planning your trip. Use the My Disney Experience app or the Disney website to make reservations conveniently.

Quick Bites and Snacks

For quick service dining options, explore the variety of casual eateries scattered throughout Disney Springs. Pizza lovers can grab a slice at Blaze Pizza, known for its custom-built pizzas. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, stop by Amorette’s Patisserie for exquisitely crafted pastries and desserts. These spots are perfect for a brief respite or a meal on the go without needing reservations.

Signature Restaurants

Disney Springs is home to several signature dining venues that offer more than just exquisite food; they provide an experience to savor. Morimoto Asia stands out with its Pan-Asian cuisine, offering dishes like Peking duck and sushi prepared by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s team. For an authentic Irish meal complete with live entertainment, Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant is the go-to spot. Remember to pair your dining with a selection from their excellent wine lists to elevate the experience fully.

Shopping Venues

Disney Springs offers a plethora of shopping opportunities tailored to every visitor’s preferences. From high-end boutiques to unique Disney-themed shops, you’ll find a wide array of options to satisfy your shopping desires.

Apparel and Accessories

The fashion-forward will revel in the variety of clothing stores at Disney Springs. UNIQLO provides affordable, casual wear for all ages, showcasing a mix of Japanese innovation and timeless style. For a touch of luxury, visit Kate Spade New York where elegance meets vibrant designs. The chic traveler should not miss Vera Bradley, famous for its patterned bags and travel gear. Make a stop at Sephora to explore a vast landscape of beauty products, with expert advice to complement your new outfit.

Toys and Souvenirs

For those seeking the perfect memento, Disney Springs presents stores brimming with toys and souvenirs. The World of Disney is the ultimate destination for exclusive Disney merchandise, offering everything from plush toys to collectibles. Engage in a delightful experience at Once Upon a Toy, a haven for imaginative playthings and interactive toys. For a curated collection of themed Disney products, ensure to check out the Marketplace Co-Op, where every corner holds a new surprise.

Entertainment Activities

Disney Springs offers a variety of entertainment activities that cater to all ages. From live performances to interactive attractions, there’s always something to captivate your attention.

Live Performances

You can enjoy live music almost every day at Disney Springs. The House of Blues is a prime spot for catching incredible musical acts in a vibrant atmosphere. On any given evening, you may experience genres ranging from rock and blues to pop and jazz. Additionally, various outdoor stages host bands and solo artists, providing free entertainment as you explore the area.

Cinematic Experiences

The AMC Movies at Disney Springs 24 offers you cinematic experiences, including the newest releases in standard and IMAX formats. If you’re a movie enthusiast, ensure to plan a visit for a relaxing evening or a rainy day activity. This theater also occasionally hosts special events where you can catch classic films on the big screen.

Interactive Attractions

Bowling takes a stylish turn at Splitsville Luxury Lanes, where you can participate in bowling with a twist, featuring live music and gourmet dining options. The Aerophile—The World Leader in Balloon Flight is another unique attraction. It lifts you 400 feet into the air, giving a breathtaking view of Disney Springs and the surrounding area. For fans of theatrical performances, Cirque du Soleil presents ‘Drawn to Life’—a fascinating blend of acrobatics and animation that brings to life the art of Disney animation in an unforgettable way.

Tips for Families with Kids

Visiting Disney Springs can be an enchanting experience for families with children. To ensure your visit is as enjoyable as possible, follow these tips tailored to those with kids. Begin your adventure at the LEGO Store, a paradise for creative young minds. Here your kids can build and play with an impressive selection of LEGO sets, watch a LEGO-building master in action, and see the stunning life-sized LEGO sculptures.

  • Locate family restrooms for convenience. These are spacious and provide a comfortable area for all family members to refresh.
  • Plan for downtime by identifying quieter spots. These areas offer a break from the stimulation of the bustling marketplace.
  • Utilize the Baby Care Centers, which offer facilities for diaper changes, feeding, and some even provide a place for naptime.
  • Investigate the various child-friendly dining options. Disney Springs hosts a variety of restaurants catering to the tastes and dietary needs of younger guests.

When planning your visit, keep track of:

  1. Entertainment schedules: Maximize your day by knowing performance times, as many are perfect for kids.
  2. Age-appropriate activities: Keep an eye out for interactive exhibits or workshops that can engage children.

Remember, Disney Springs is vast, so:

  • Wear comfortable footwear for the extensive walking.
  • Keep a light stroller handy for younger children.
  • Use the free Disney Springs map to navigate easily and pinpoint kid-friendly attractions, including the play areas and the waterfront where kids can watch different aquatic creatures.

Lastly, always have a meeting point in case your group gets separated. With these tips, your visit to Disney Springs will be filled with magical moments for your whole family.

Special Events and Seasonal Offerings

Disney Springs is a vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida that hosts a variety of special events and seasonal offerings throughout the year. These events often reflect the diverse cultural celebrations and holidays.


  • Art in August: A celebration of visual arts where you can appreciate and purchase works from local artists.
  • Fall Festival: Welcomes the autumn season with themed decorations, treats, and entertainment.

Holiday Events

  • Christmas Tree Trail: Experience a winter wonderland with elaborately decorated Christmas trees, each themed to a different Disney character or story.
  • Santa’s Chalet: Meet Santa Claus and share your holiday wishes until December 24th, then meet Santa Goofy from December 25th.

Seasonal Entertainment

  • Spring Concert Series: Attend live music concerts featuring various genres to suit all tastes during the spring months.
  • Halloween: Enjoy trick-or-treating spots, themed entertainment, and seasonal merchandise throughout October.

Remember, event dates and details are subject to change, so check the official Disney Springs website or the My Disney Experience app before your visit to plan accordingly and make the most of your time at Disney Springs.

Adjusting for Weather and Crowds

When visiting Disney Springs for the first time, it’s important to consider both the weather and crowds while planning your day. Florida’s climate can be unpredictable; hence, frequent rain showers occur, especially during summer afternoons. Ensure you bring a poncho or umbrella.

In regards to crowd levels, they tend to peak during weekends and holiday periods. To experience lower wait times at popular spots like the Rainforest Cafe, plan a visit on a weekday. Here are several tips to optimize your visit:

  1. Check the forecast before you leave to ensure you wear appropriate clothing for the weather. Rain can come suddenly.
  2. Arrive early or stay late to beat the crowds. Disney Springs generally opens at 10 AM and closes at 12 AM.
  3. Book dining reservations ahead of time, especially at high-demand restaurants like the Rainforest Cafe.
  4. Identify indoor areas for a reprieve from afternoon thunderstorms or excessive heat.

By following these tips, you can better navigate both weather and crowd factors, ensuring a more enjoyable visit to Disney Springs.

Exclusive Experiences and Tours

Disney Springs offers unique tours and experiences that cater to visitors looking for something extraordinary. Whether you’re gliding across the water in an iconic Amphicar or sipping drinks with a view, these exclusive offerings add a memorable twist to your Disney adventure.

Amphicar Rides

The Amphicar is a rare amphibious vehicle and an eye-catching attraction at Disney Springs. Your ride begins at The BOATHOUSE, where an experienced captain guides you on a 20-minute tour. Observe luxury yachts and the vibrant Disney Springs landscape.

  • Location: The BOATHOUSE
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Capacity: 3-4 passengers
  • Book in Advance: Highly recommended

Rooftop Beverages

Elevate your Disney Springs visit with a trip to a rooftop bar. Take in panoramic views while enjoying an exclusive selection of beverages. Savor the ambiance as you relax above the bustling promenade below.

  • Experience: Unique drink offerings
  • Environment: Panoramic views
  • Note: Age restrictions may apply
  • Reservation Suggestion: Advisable for sunset hours

Maximizing the My Disney Experience App

The My Disney Experience App is a powerful tool that enhances your visit to Disney Springs by centralizing all your planning needs. Install the app on your mobile device before your trip to streamline your experience. Utilize the app to make reservations for dining and experiences with ease.

Firstly, create an account to store all your plans. You’ll need this account to:

  1. Link your park tickets for seamless entry.
  2. Secure dining reservations up to 60 days in advance.
  3. Update your itinerary in real-time.

For planning your visit, obsess over the interactive maps to navigate Disney Springs efficiently. They will pinpoint your location and help you discover nearby attractions and restaurants.

When it comes to tips for using the app to your advantage:

  • Customize your itinerary by adding personal reminders and notes for special events or offers.
  • Monitor wait times for any attractions that might be nearby, allowing you to decide spontaneously.
  • Check-in for dining reservations virtually, a feature that saves you from standing in line.

Remember, the app provides real-time updates, so refresh frequently to get the latest information on any changes or new opportunities that arise. By making these features work for you, the app becomes more than just a resource; it transforms into your personal assistant for an unforgettable Disney Springs adventure.