- Disney Springs is a free-to-enter shopping and dining center located 15 minutes from Magic Kingdom.
- I visited twice in 2021, and I took photos that show what it's like to walk through the destination.
- There are must-visit eateries, activities like hot-air balloon rides, dozens of stores, and more.
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I visited Florida twice in 2021, and I spent time at Disney Springs during both trips.
Disney Springs is a shopping, dining, and entertainment center located just minutes away from Disney World's theme parks and resorts.
There are multiple free parking garages surrounding Disney Springs.
I like to park in the Orange garage, which sits on one end of Disney Springs. There is also the Lime garage in the center of the shopping center and the Grapefruit garage across the street.
From there, it's easy to find the security checkpoint. You're typically instructed to walk through metal detectors and have your bags checked, which rarely takes more than two minutes, in my experience.
Once inside, you're greeted with entertainment options and restaurants, as well as a hot-air balloon.
There are multiple options once you step inside. Turning left takes you to the AMC dine-in theater. Right goes toward the Coca Cola store. I usually choose the latter.
You could also head straight toward Planet Hollywood for the Aerophile — an "eight-minute tethered adventure," as Disney describes it, which gives you standout views of Disney Springs, all for $25 (R394)
I recommend stopping at the Coca-Cola store for unique beverages and fun merchandise.
The store, which covers two giant levels, offers what seems like every Coca-Cola-themed product you could imagine — from fancy soda bottles to Christmas ornaments.
On the highest level, you'll also find a rooftop bar where you can purchase alcoholic drinks and Coca-Cola sodas from around the world.
Afterward, I'd suggest stopping at Guy Fieri's Chicken Guy! restaurant.
If you're a fan of chicken, this is your spot. The restaurant — located across from the Coca-Cola store — has a menu filled with sandwiches, pickle chips, mac 'n' cheese, and of course, chicken tenders. That's not to mention the 22 dipping sauces available.
I've loved multiple menu items, and personally would travel all the way back to Florida for the fries alone.
But if you're looking for something a bit more upscale, there's a Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill next door.
From there, you can enter a shaded shopping center called the Market Building.
Fancy some shopping? Those who like to spend on vacation will appreciate the stores in this building, which include Tommy Bahama, Everything But Water, and Sperry.
My personal favourite is Sugar Boo & Co., where you can find quirky art, handmade items, and accessories.
Outside, you'll find more popular stores like Zara and Free People.
There's also Coach, Kate Spade New York, Sephora, and more.
When passing Zara, you can either turn left toward the middle of Disney Springs or continue heading straight.
If you keep walking past Zara, you'll find more stores like Anthropologie and Uniqlo.
Uniqlo is the perfect place to find affordable Disney-themed clothes and accessories, in my opinion. There's a section of the store dedicated to character items, too. Most cost under $25 (R394)
My favourite store in this section of Disney Springs is Ever After Jewelry Co. and Accessories.
At the store, you can find popular Disney-themed accessories like Loungefly backpacks, embellished Minnie Mouse ears, and BaubleBar jewelry.
This path eventually leads you to Disney Springs staples, like The Polite Pig and Amorette's Patisserie.
World of Disney — the ultimate souvenir shop — is also located here.
This store is a must-visit for Disney fans. Whether you're looking for something small, like a mug, or larger, such as home decor, this mecca for all-things Disney includes clothes, plush toys, accessories, and limited-edition merchandise.
But if you're after a deal, consider a short trip to the Disney discount store, a 20-minute drive from Disney Springs.
After exiting, you'll find a waterfront stage to your left and more stores on your right.
The former spot often has free musical performances at night, though there are sometimes daytime events too.
In the meantime, pop into Basin to find shower products, Mickey Mouse soaps, and other beauty products.
Be sure to stop at Marketplace Co-op, one of my favourite spots at Disney Springs.
At the Marketplace Co-op, you'll find small market stalls filled with different merchandise, from designer bags to small art prints.
My tip: this spot is usually where I find the most unique souvenirs, and I could easily spend hours making my way through the booths.
Across the way is the Marketplace Snacks booth where you can enjoy sweet treats.
Today, the Marketplace booth sells waffles and drinks, while Dole Whip is sold at Disney Springs' Swirls on the Water. Still, it's worth a visit if you have a sweet tooth.
This is the perfect destination for travelers with kids.
Star Wars fans will also want to visit.
If you're collect pins, there's store just for you.
Disney Pin Traders is the ultimate spot for people who want to start a collection or grow the one they have. I've found everything from ride-themed pins to ones inspired by the Disney Channel here.
You can also buy MagicBands and similar accessories at the shop.
Of course, this section of Disney Springs wouldn't be complete without eateries.
There's a lot to take in, but don't miss out on the more unconventional spots — like Disney Springs' art gallery and Christmas store.
Disney's Days of Christmas is truly a sight to see all year round. Plus, you will make you ready for the holidays by the middle of August.
The Art of Disney is also good for gifting. It feature one-of-a-kind creations inspired by fan-favourite characters. If you're lucky, you'll catch a Disney artist drawing in the store for visitors to watch.
When you arrive at the beautiful bridge, it will lead you to the other end of Disney Springs.
Not only does this bridge have stunning views of the surrounding lake, but there are also small shop stalls placed across the walkway. It's also a great spot for an Instagram photo.
Once you've reached the Lego-made Dragon at the end of the bridge, you'll know where to head next.
This handmade structure has called this spot home for decades. It's a favourite among many Disney Springs fans.
Even if you don't collect Legos, the store at Disney Springs is worth a visit.
Inside, you'll find many of the most popular Legos sets. But the real sight to see if the exterior of the shop, where there are incredible, hand-made structures of bricks crafted to look like beloved Disney characters.
On my latest trip, I saw Mickey Mouse, Kylo Ren, and Chewbacca sculptures.
When you reach this point of Disney Springs, you might be hungry again — or at least, enticed
Iif you're only looking for a snack, Gideon's Bakehouse is the place to go.
The gothic bakery is my favourite place at Disney Springs, and one of my go-to spots in all of Disney World.
People typically wait a few hours in line for the famous cookies, which weigh nearly half a pound and take 24 hours to prepare. (They are $6 each (R95)). And that's not to mention the cakes, coffee, and other snacks on the menu.
As you head back toward the Orange garage, you'll find more food.
There's another small bridge that leads you to Starbucks, a Disney clothing store, and other shops.
From there, you'll find even more restaurants as well as some activities.
You can catch a show at the House of Blues, shop at the M&M's store, watch a movie at the dine-in AMC theater, or try your hand at bowling at Splitsville.
Finally, you'll find the Cirque du Soleil building, which looks like, yes, a circus tent.
Cirque du Soleil changes its shows throughout the year, but Disney fans will love the one currently scheduled, Drawn to Life, which mixes Cirque du Soleil's mesmerising performances with Disney's animation.
There's so much to do at Disney Springs that you may want an extra day during your vacation to experience it.
After spending hours there, I like to load up on a few extra Gideon's cookies, ensure that I've purchased all the souvenirs I want, and head back to my hotel room for much-needed relaxation. (I prefer Disney World's cheapest option, the All-Star Resort).
Ultimately, it's up to you. You can go in the morning to avoid crowds, visit in the evening to experience the nightlife, or do what I do: make the most of it from opening to close.