When taking your multigenerational family to Walt Disney World, there’s more to love and do at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Here are 7 reasons why you should include a stop at Disney Springs on your next Walt Disney World adventure.
Why You should Visit Disney Springs at Walt Disney World
With 47 square miles of magical Walt Disney World to explore, our multigenerational family vacation was already overflowing with things to do and see. And yes, we get that the theme parks are at the top of our grandkids’ list, but on our recent #DisneyGrandAdventure, we discovered some really fun things to do at Disney Springs.
For those who don’t know, Disney Springs is the product of the recent re-imagining (and naming) of the former Downtown Disney. The lively shopping, dining and entertainment district treats guests by day and night to a one-of-a-kind Disney experience amid beautiful open-air promenades, flowing springs and waterfront charm. Disney Springs will include four distinct, outdoor neighborhoods with a diverse mix of retailers. The new offerings are part of an expansion that – when Disney Springs is fully completed in 2016 — will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues from the current 70 to nearly 150. Shopping, entertainment, dining, helium balloon rides, and amphicar floats — you’ll discover all this and more at Disney Springs.
Here are 7 reasons why you should visit Disney Springs at Walt Disney World with your family:
1. Characters In Flight Balloon
Up, up and away, Disney style, could only be in a helium balloon, right? The balloon was custom-built for Disney, and the 19-foot-diameter basket holds up to 29 people plus one certified pilot per flight. Characters in Flight is an all age adventure, descending 350-400 feet in the air with a bird’s eye 360-degree view of Disney Springs, white peaked tents of Cirque du Soleil Theater, Disney theme parks, and Resort hotels.
Even on our overcast, slightly windy ride, it was smooth and not scary. On this adventure, Grandpa opted to stay on land as heights aren’t for him, but the two grandkids and I loved the view from the top! COST: Adult USD $18 / Child USD $12
2. Amphicar at the Boathouse
Located in the heart of Disney Springs with views of Lake Buena Vista, The Boathouse offers a family-friendly waterfront dining experience. (TIP: Be sure to request seating at the “boat” tables.) One of the new venues in The Landing, The Boathouse is the only place in the world where you can experience a Captain’s Guided Tour in a vintage Amphicar. Their fleet of Amphicars came from private collections across the worlds, and there were less than 4,000 of these amphibious vehicles produced during from 1961 to 1968. These rare cars enter the water with a splash into Lake Buena Vista, for a 20-minute tour of Disney Springs.
COST: $125 per car. Lunch & Launch: $25 off your Amphicar Tour booking when presenting your lunch receipt.
The Boathouse also offers Italian Water Taxi cruises. The Venezia is a 40-foot Italian water taxi, complete with chocolate-covered strawberries and a champagne toast. COST: 30 minutes: $75 per person; $50 per child under age 13. 60 minutes: $115 per person; $75 for child under 13
3. Erupting Volcano at Rainforest Cafe
My grandson was fascinated with the erupting volcano at Rainforest Cafe (free to view), hanging out by the “alligator” in front of the restaurant. Grandson liked the volcano best in the evening, when he zoomed in from the deck of the Boathouse to video the volcano flames. Once you’ve experienced the volcano, stop in at Lava Lounge for wharfside dinner and drinks, or step into the Rainforest Cafe for an animal themed dining experience.
4. Dining in Disney Springs
Walking around can work up a thirst and a hunger, and Disney Springs offers many family-friendly dining. Start walking and you’ll find everything from casual to fine dining, ice cream to Irish pubs.
TIP: To ensure you get a seat at your favorite restaurant, be sure to make a reservation through your My Disney Experience app, online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463). We tried to visit T-REX without a reservation and it was more than an hour wait — not fun with hungry kids!
Day or night, Disney Springs has something going on from unique specialty acts to live music. If we had more time, we would have created a family bowling challenge at the Splitsville Luxury Lanes or watched a show at La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil. Coming in 2016 is The NBA Experience, which will feature hands-on activities for families that will put you into the world of professional basketball.
Retail therapy is at every corner of Disney Springs. The granddaughter created her own T-shirt at Disney Design-a-Tee.
7. Boat Ride to/from Disney Springs
Getting there is fun too! We stayed at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and we loved taking the water transportation to and from Disney Springs.
Disclaimer: Walt Disney World hosted our multigenerational family for #DisneyGrandAdveneture; opinions expressed are my own.