My family likes to take a chill day in the middle of our Disney vacation to try to recuperate from the madness of running around the parks. We will sleep in, hang out at the pool, and spend a solid afternoon slash evening at Disney Springs. This area has really improved over the years and there is a lot to see. So here is my guide to the ins and outs of the best of Disney Springs!
World of Disney
Didn’t have time to stop in the Emporium at Magic Kingdom on your way out? Did the Creations Shop at EPCOT not have your size in the t-shirt you were eyeing?
World of Disney is the largest merchandise shop at Walt Disney World and has a wide variety of selections for everyone. It might be a good idea to do the major merchandise shopping while you are here. That way you don’t have to worry about carrying around all of your treasures through the parks!
If you are to do only one thing at Disney Springs, I beg you to make it a stop at Gideon’s Bakehouse. These are the best cookies in the whole world – and I am very careful about managing cookie expectations.
This Orlando-based company opened its doors downtown in 2016 and has become a local staple with its 1-pound deliciously decadent cookies.
The restaurant is small so it can only fit so many people. Due to its popularity there can be quite a line. If the line gets too long then there is a virtual queue that you can only sign up for in person. But man oh man – the wait is fully worth it. No cookie will ever be the same.
Similarly, another fantastic dessert stop is Sprinkles. They are known for their cupcake ATM. What is that you might ask? If you don’t want to go into the store, stop at the ATM just outside and order your cupcake at a little machine. Instead of money, out pops a cupcake! And honestly, I think that is even better.
They have seasonal cupcakes so their menu changes pretty often, so make sure to frequently stop there!
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
Disney Springs provides a great opportunity for non-Disney chefs and restaurants to really show off their stuff. Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming is one of the hidden gems of the Disney property. They serve farm-to-fork fresh Florida flavors in this family-forward restaurant. Feel right at home here with the welcoming vibe and hearty meals.
If you happen to be there on the weekend, brunch is served from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm. Make sure you make a reservation! The line for a table can be pretty long.
Earl of Sandwich
Located on the far east side of Disney Springs lies some of the best sandwiches in Orlando. Dubbed “the world’s greatest hot sandwich” never disappoints! This is a great stop mid-shopping for a quick bite in the middle of the day. Try the Holiday Turkey sandwich! It used to be a seasonal option only, but it was so popular that it was put on the permanent menu.
Why wait for December to celebrate Christmas when you can do it year round at Disney Springs? I love walking into this shop during the especially hot and humid days in the Orlando summer. It gives just a glimmer of the cooler seasons to come.
Buy a Christmas ornament in this shop and get it customized! There are incredibly talented artists in the shop who can add whatever text you would like to the ornament.
City Works Eatery and Pour House
This is the place where an upbeat restaurant meats a stellar sports bar. Lining the walls behind the bar are large TVs lined up, showing whatever popular games are on. The food here is decent, but the beer selections are some of the best on property!
There is also quite a bit of outdoor seating for the really nice evenings if you aren’t interested in the current sporting events.
Cirque du Soleil
Just outside of City Works is a large white tent – you can’t miss it. This is a permanent home for Cirque du Soleil. Its current show is called “Drawn to Life.” It is a love letter to the beauty of Disney Animation and the magic it brings to the world. It is the perfect combination of the jaw-dropped wonder of Cirque du Soleil mixed with a little bit of Disney magic.
The show happens every week Tuesday – Saturday, twice a night. This is a separate ticketed experience, so be sure to book your tickets before they sell out!
Splitsville Luxury Lanes
Did you know you can bowl at Disney? If you are looking for a fun activity for the family in the afternoon, this could be a great addition to your day! And unlike many local bowling allies, this food is fantastic.
One HUGE, unexpected secret about Splitsville – it is home to the best sushi at Walt Disney World. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!
If there is a movie being released in theaters the weekend you are in Orlando, you don’t have to miss it! This AMC is large and even has a Dolby theater.
Tip: if you happen to be in town while a Marvel movie is being released in theaters, do yourself a favor and watch it opening weekend at this theater. Getting to watch a Marvel movie in a room filled with major Disney fans is an experience unlike any other. (Look up YouTube videos of opening night of Avenger’s End Game. Unreal.)
There is so much shopping at Disney Springs that is non-Disney. There is too much to cover so here is a highlight of some of the most popular spots.
- Sugar Boo
- Fit2Run, The Runner’s Superstore
- MAC Cosmetics
- Kate Spade New York
- A HUGE M&M Store
- Coca Cola Store
- And SO many more
Each trip to Disney Springs can be different. There is so much to see and do, so make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to soak it all in!