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Disney Springs Vs. Downtown Disney District

Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort offer Guests Disney Parks and Resort hotels. Additionally, both have a shopping and dining district where Guests can relax when taking time away from the Disney Parks. But how are they similar, and what is different about them? Let’s take a look!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is the Walt Disney World Resort’s shopping and dining district. Four areas together cover 120 acres – the Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center, and West Side. Each area has its own theming, forming a unique Disney experience for all Guests. Shopping at Disney Springs includes Disney merchandise and favorite brands, including Zara, Sephora, Rob Jon Surf Shop, Vera Bradley, and more. More specifically, you can find 98 shops, 68 restaurants, and 20 entertainment venues in Disney Springs.

Disney Springs is the perfect place to spend time during any part of the day. Mornings are more relaxed as crowds are smaller while many Guests visit the Disney Parks. During the evening, Disney Springs comes alive with live entertainment and the hustle and bustle of Guests visiting for dinner.

Disney Springs Marketplace
Credit: V Mills

Downtown Disney District

The Downtown Disney District is the place to shop and dine outside Disneyland California’s Disney Parks. Downtown Disney connects the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel to the Disney Parks. Guests pass through Downtown Disney to get to Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park when parking in the Pixar Pals and Mickey & Friends Parking areas.

While relatively small compared to Disney Springs, Downtown Disney offers a great selection of restaurants, merchandise locations, and entertainment venues for Guests to enjoy. Additional experiences are coming to the shopping and dining district over the coming months.

Downtown Disney District, Disneyland Resort
Credit: Inside The Magic


Both Disney Springs and Downtown Disney combine shopping, dining, and entertainment. As such, they offer Guests the chance to relax away from the Disney theme parks. There are additional similarities between the shopping and dining districts.

Splitsville Luxury Lanes

If you enjoy a game of tenpin bowling, you’ll want to visit Splitsville Luxury Lanes in Disney Springs and Downtown Disney. Splitsville Luxury Lanes is an entertainment complex with many bowling lanes, big-screen TVs, and inside and outside dining experiences. There’s plenty of fun to be had by all the family late into the evening after the Disney Parks have closed.

girl bowling at splitsville
credit: Disney

Earl of Sandwich

When you need a hot, freshly-made sandwich, Earl of Sandwich is the place to go. You can find the quick-service restaurant in both Disney shopping districts. Enjoy “The World’s Greatest Hot Sandwich” inside or outside on the patio at both locations.

Earl Of Sandwich, Disney Springs
Credit: How To Disney

World of Disney

The World of Disney Store is common in many Disney Resorts worldwide. It’s the place to shop for Disney souvenirs and merchandise. However, the store offers more than just shopping. When you enter the World of Disney, you’ll enjoy an immersive experience combining storytelling and shopping. Both stores share the theme of having once been a Disney animation study. Inside, you’ll see enchanted paint jars, Disney characters’ sketches, and Disney animators’ photographs. Even if you don’t intend on buying anything, wandering the World of Disney is part of the Disney experience.

World of Disney, Disney Springs
Credit: V Mills

Live Music

Both shopping and dining districts have live music stages. In Downtown Disney, the Downtown Disney LIVE! Stage Entertainment showcases a variety of music throughout the evening. Enjoy a groove and dance to the music before you retire to your Disney Resort hotel for the evening.

Disney Springs has multiple stages where live music is performed throughout the day and night. You can enjoy live performances at the following locations in Disney Springs:

  • AdventHealth Waterside Stage in the Marketplace
  • House of Blues on West Side
  • Springs Overlook in Town Center
  • Waterview Park at The Landing
  • Raglan Road at The Landing


Despite sharing some common features, there are many differences between Disney Springs and Downtown Disney. The size of the shopping districts is a considerable difference. Let’s take a look at the other differences.

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop

Whether you pick up a selection of chocolate to take home with you or hope to enjoy an ice cream sundae or shake, you can visit Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Disneyland California, and Walt Disney World. However, while Ghirardelli is located in Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, you’ll have to enter a Disney Park to visit it in California. You’ll find the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Disney California Adventure Park.

Ghirardelli, Disney Springs & Disneyland California
Credit: Ghirardelli Chocolate Company

Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight

Disney Springs is the only place to offer the opportunity to fly in the world’s largest helium balloon. Guests can take a 400-feet flight into the sky and enjoy 360-degree views of the Walt Disney World Resort.

Aerophile, Disney Springs
Credit: V Mills


Guests can access the Disney shopping and dining districts in different ways. Downtown Disney is generally accessed by walking or by car. Guests pass through Downtown Disney when traveling between the Disney Resort hotels and the Disney Parks. Similarly, Guests can use the parking garages to visit Downtown Disney.

Meanwhile, Disney Springs can be accessed by four modes of transport. Guests in local hotels, including Disney’s Saratoga Springs, can walk to Disney Springs. Four parking areas are available for Guests traveling by car to use. Additionally, Disney Resort hotel Guests can use the Disney buses or the Sassagoula River Boats to travel to Disney Springs.

Drawn to Life Presented by Cirque Du Soleil & Disney

Similarly, Drawn to Life is unique to Disney Springs. Guests can watch the first-ever collaboration between Cirque Du Soleil and The Walt Disney Company. The show is a beautiful combination of acrobatics, breathtaking stunts, Disney animation, and music.

Drawn to Life Presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney
Credit: Disney

Earl of Sandwich Tavern

Downtown Disney offers an additional Earl of Sandwich experience. Guests can enjoy the full-service restaurant known as the Earl of Sandwich Tavern. You’ll find an extended menu that provides a modern twist on classic dishes. The Earl of Sandwich Tavern is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Earl of Sandwich Tavern, Downtown Disney
Credit: Disney

Are you still waiting to visit one of the Disney shopping and dining districts? Do you have a favorite? Make sure you spend some time at Downtown Disney or Disney Springs, depending on where you’re Disney vacation will take you.

Victoria Mills

Victoria is a Disney-loving, tea-drinking, Math teacher from Liverpool, England. Her motto is 'work hard, Disney harder'! Having taken part in the Disney College Program back in 2010, Victoria's love and appreciation for Walt Disney World only grew, and it's the place where she feels most herself - it's home!

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