The Magic Behind Disney Springs
Did you know that Disney Springs – the shopping, dining, and entertainment promenade built and operated by Walt Disney World – has been around for 45 years? As we can relate, Disney Springs grew in spurts and went through different names and phases since its debut in 1975. The hope among the Disney Imagineers behind the latest growth spurt and identity change is that this iconic place has finally matured.
Growing Out of the Awkward Phase(s)
Walt Disney World always wanted a shopping place, at first a mall, to complement its theme parks. That idea became the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village, an open-air shopping area. Its first retail tenants included It’s a Small World After All Shop, Captain’s Tower, Gourmet Pantry, and Bath Parlour. But Orlando’s thriving entertainment, shopping, and dining scene –about 20 – 30 minutes away – created competition past CEOs, such as Michael Eisner, had to face.
During Eisner’s reign, he oversaw the addition of Pleasure Island to kept guests partying with the mouse after some shopping and dinner rather than venture to Downtown Orlando’s Church Street Station, the hot party spot of the 80s. This phase blossomed Disney Springs into what it still is today: a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.
Over the years, growth spurts changed the way the place looked and its size, yet it lacked a unifying design and story. When Disney’s Imagineers were asked to revitalize the area once more, they decided to finally solve these problems.
What Is Disney Springs?
Inspiration and a storyline bubbled up as they visited small spring-fed towns around Florida. There was a charm that the Flagler era (the early 1900s) towns had with their quintessential Florida feel of Spanish revival architecture, specifically the town of Kismet, Florida. The Imagineers wanted to recreate this on Disney property. It also complimented the design and theme of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. Imagineers started by painstakingly building a man-made spring since the property itself has no naturally-fed springs. Today you can find the bubbling spring at the Town Center’s main fountain.
Walt Disney World Imagineer Theron Skees, executive creative director of the project said “The story is really of a small town that grew up around a natural spring,” Skees said. “It’s a story that’s really not unlike lots of small towns in Florida that grew up in the same kind of way. It has sort of a nod to the history of Florida as it developed and grew up over the years.”
The result is the Disney Springs complex that provides free family-friendly entertainment, houses restaurants run by award-winning chefs, and shops galore AND has a healthy dash of Disney magic. A walk through Disney Springs covers its four neighborhoods: The Landing, West Side, Marketplace, and the Town Center. Each has distinct shopping, entertainment, and restaurants. Overall there are more than 150 stores featuring high-end products as well as Disney-themed stores. But first, a little bit of safety rules since these times demand we take extra care when around others.
Disney Springs Safety Protocols
Operations are limited, but Disney Springs is open. Park either in the Orange or Lime garages, which double as half of the current entry points. The other two entry points are the Hotel Plaza Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge and the rideshare location. Currently, the Grapefruit garage entry point is restricted.
Everyone ages 2 and older must have their temperature screened near open entry points. Anyone trying to enter with a fever of 100.4 or greater will be redirected to another location to be rescreened and offered assistance. Guests with a confirmed temperature that high will not be allowed to enter and neither will anyone from their party. Cast members and other employees are subject to the same temperature screening. Don’t forget your masks! All guests are required to wear masks.
Fun Time for Families and Dates
Now that we’ve made it safely into Disney Springs, it’s time to have some fun. If you’re visiting for a family fun night or date night, we think you’ll enjoy these attractions.
- Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight: Glide 400 ft. above the crowds in this calm balloon ride in the West Side. Chances are you can see this thing from far away. You’ll need a ticket to ride.
- Coca-Cola Polar Bear Photo Op Experience: ON the second floor of the Coca Cola store, take an awesome selfie with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear with your camera.
- Marketplace Carousel: Enjoy watching the world go around on this Venetian merry-go-round with sixteen handcrafted horses. Try to get in the spinning teacup, which is totally designed like the famous ride in the Magic Kingdom. A single-ride token will cost $3 per person.
- Marketplace Train Express
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes™ West Side Attractions
- Vintage Amphicar at the Landing
Catch a Free Concert
Some of the major changes we’ve seen across the parks include scaling back events that attract crowds, such as parades and interactive events. Fortunately, you can still catch live music throughout Disney Springs at these key locations.
- Exposition Park, West Side
- Riverboat Square, The Landing
- Sunshine Highline, West Side
- Waterview Park, The Landing
Disney Dining for Days
Award-wining dining came up earlier, so let’s dig into these fabulous options. There’s a tasty mix of quick service and relaxed sit-down dining. Across the property, you’ll find restaurants serving the culinary creativity and the savoir-faire of Master Sommelier George Miliotes and the precision of Chef Morimoto of Iron Chef America.
In true Disney fashion, dining options cover many different styles of cuisine. At the time of this writing, some restaurants are still waiting to reopen. A good amount is currently open making for a great night of dining. Click here for Disney’s current status on all of the options available to guests.
Disney Springs Special Events
Throughout the year, Disney Springs hosts special events in celebration of major holidays. You can catch an amazing free fireworks show and unique nightly entertainment for the Fourth of July. During Christmas and other major holidays, Disney Springs is decorated with millions of glittering lights, ornaments, and amazing Christmas trees to admire.
Closest Rosen Hotel to Disney
Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista, soon to be Rosen Inn Lake Buena Vista, is less than 2 miles from Disney Springs. As a Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotel, we maintain high standards of cleanliness and services. Transportation to and from Walt Disney’s theme parks is provided for free, we ask that you make reservations with the Guest Services Desk agent to assure you’ll have a seat.
Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista is ready to serve you with the best quality guestroom and amenities in a safe and clean environment. We’ve increased our cleaning procedures across the hotel. You’ll see changes at the front desk where clear plexiglass creates a safety barrier between you and the front desk agent. Touchpoints in common areas are wiped down with a hospital-grade disinfectant as are the common touchpoints in the guestrooms. Each guestroom is disinfected prior to your check-in. Speaking of checking in, we have mobile options that allow guests to check-in and out from the convenience of their mobile phone.
When selecting a hotel for your next Disney vacation, we hope you’ll stay with us at Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista, soon to be Rosen Inn Lake Buena Vista. Start planning your next vacation today by clicking the Book Now button at the top of this screen or by calling 407-996-7236.