Orlando’s Disney Springs (known as Downtown Disney until late 2015) was my weekend destination and the perfect place to stroll around and soak up the Florida sunshine. Downtown Springs (Downtown Disney) is currently experiencing a huge remodel. I know the finished product will be amazing so for the time being, we just roll with the changes.
The crowds were in full force at Disney Springs with visitors enjoying the unique complex. There was live entertainment near the waterfront as well as all the cool Disney food trucks located throughout the park. We opted to park in the garage, which was a breeze to find a space and best of all, free.
I met friends visiting from West Virginia at Gloria Estefan’s famous Bongo’s Cuban Cafe for lunch. We tried delicious Cuban style lunches, while my daughter opted for a burger at the House of Blues. Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) has many dining choices so it is a hard decision picking between them. I would recommend a reservation as they are very busy.
Some of my favorites are Rainforest Cafe, Earl of Sandwich, and Cookes of Dublin (have the curry fries). Raglan Road Irish Pub & Restaurant has live music during dinnertime and kids will flock to the T-Rex Cafe. (Caution: It is loud!)
Stores Available at Disney Springs
Save time and money for shopping because Disney Springs has a potpourri of shops and special interest items. The Lego Imagination Center and Disney’s Days of Christmas store will always be my favorites but I saw a couple new shops that are worth mentioning.
Basin is a bath product store with a huge selection of hand cut soaps, bath crystals, and scrubs. You can sample many of the products inside the store. At the Lego store, complete with amazing Lego creations inside and out, you get plenty of hands on play and incredible kits for purchase. Do not miss the Lego sea serpent in the lake out front.
Strolling around the Disney Springs, we saw so many cute little girls all made up and “glamour-fied” from their experience at the cool Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a store that charges a fortune to make your little one a princess for the day. Services range from hair styling, shimmering make-up and nails, Princess costumes with accessories and photo services. It is all a bit much to me, including the steep prices, but the pride displayed by these little girls all dolled up around the park is just precious. They love it and even more so when you tell them how adorable they look. Once Upon A Toy Store is another place to take the kids.
Best Desserts on the Property
I must tell you that a trip to Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) should include a trip to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop. The store has two sides; one for ordering beverages and one for ice cream treats. You can opt to wait on your order at the counter or they will find your seat and deliver to your table. The prices are expensive, mostly $9.95 and up for sundaes and specialty items, but one item will most likely be enough to share.
The Disney Marketplace now offers six new shops, in which my daughter pointed out, looks very much like Chelsea Market in Manhattan. D-Tech on Demand is an ultra-hip store in which you can customize and personalize your own Disney phone case and other electronic items. Centerpiece is another fun new store that has decorated home products such as glasses, plates, and pillows based on Disney attractions.
Two Special Offerings at Disney Springs
Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) has two special offerings that I both enjoy and endorse. First is the Disney Quest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, which offers an array of classic video games (alas Ms Pacman and Galaga for my age!), fantasy adventure games, and virtual reality games. A full day pass costs around $45 per person. Buzz’s Astro Blaster is one of the top attractions and I love the Virtual Jungle Cruise where you “ride the rapids”.
The second special attraction is the Cirque du Soleil “La Nouba” theatrical performance with live and original music plus dazzling costumes and amazing acrobats. Being a lover of theater and having seen 6 other Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas and NYC, La Nouba wins hands down as my favorite and most impressive show of them all. One word to sum it all up is “Wow”! You will have the time of your life watching this eye-catching, humorous, energetic and awesome performance. Other special attractions include Splitsville, a fun bowling alley with billiards and live entertainment, and a 24-screen AMC movie complex.
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Cooke’s of Dublin
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