Disney Springs, or Downtown Disney, is a great place to spend half a day when visiting Disney World. It is a large entertainment, shopping, and dining area that had been completely re-done and continues to expand. Each time our family visits Disney, we try to schedule at least a couple of hours to enjoy all there is to do, eat and see at Disney Springs. Most people think that Disney Springs is all about shopping and eating. While there is plenty of that, Disney Springs has many places that are geared towards children, and many of them are free. In fact, it is a great day to do Disney on a budget. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do at Disney Springs for kids.
Disney Springs Parking
One of the recent additions to Disney Springs were new parking garages. There are 3 – Lemon, Lime, and Orange. In addition to the regular surface lots, Disney Springs parking is free. They do offer preferred parking spaces and valet for an additional cost.
Disney Springs Transportation
Disney Springs is easily reached by car, bus, or even by boat. You can catch a Disney bus from any of the four theme parks, and the ferry departs from these hotels: Port Orleans Resort-French Quarter and Riverside, Old Key West Resort, Treehouse Villas, and Saratoga Springs Resort. For guests staying at Saratoga Springs, there is a convenient pedestrian bridge that crosses over into Disney Springs. Check out all the transportation options on the Disney Springs site.
Check Out: Disney Fastpass Secrets
A Guide to Disney Springs for Kids
My kids love to visit this place. If anyone in your group enjoys playing with Legos, you must stop at the Lego Store in Disney Springs. They have amazing Lego displays of Disney characters that are great picture spots, and an area outside where kids can build/race cars or just play. There are stations with Lego Duplos for toddlers and regular Legos for the rest. Inside, you can browse some of the built Lego displays and Lego wall and build mini figures. I don’t know why but my kids love building these silly little Lego mini-figures and then begging me to buy them. I gave in once, and now only let them build and walk away after 10-15 minutes. I love visiting this place because it is a nice, free activity that keeps my kids entertained.
While you can trade pins almost anywhere at Disney, it is a free/cheap way to keep kids entertained. If your child already collects pins, there are plenty of Disney cast members who would be happy to trade pins with you. Actually, the Disney pin kiosks have pouches of pins available to trade. If you are new to pin trading, all you need is to buy a Disney lanyard and a few Disney pins to start. You can browse the shops or ask cast members to trade.
Visit the T-Rex Restaurant
Notice that I wrote the word visit. We ate here once and found the food to be average and overpriced. You will do better just to visit the T-Rex Restaurant for a few minutes, and here’s why. The theming is great, especially if you have younger ones who are intrigued by dinosaurs. They have a small gift shop where you can browse or build your own dino, but you can also look around and see the huge dinosaur animatronics roar and come to life. In addition, there is a small fossil dig area that kids are sure to love. It is very similar to the one at Animal Kingdom park, but this one is much smaller.
Surprisingly, some of my favorite photos of my kids were taken at Disney Springs. There are backdrops, Disney character statues, Legos, a photo pass station, movie posters, props, and so much more available for photo opportunities. There are also some great shots you can take with the lake in the background.
Ride the Carousel and Train
These are two small rides that are perfect for younger ones. The carousel and train are located just outside the Disney Christmas store and next to the Earl of Sandwich. Both the train and carousel do have a small cost, $3 per ride, but kids usually love them. Parents can ride with their child for free and it is a pretty cheap activity that toddlers will likely enjoy.
Bippidi Boppidi Boutique
If you have a Disney Princess lover, then visiting the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique is a wonderful way to make her feel extra special. While this is definitely not cheap, it can be a nice way to commemorate a vacation or as a birthday treat. Packages start at $65. To save a little bit of money, bring a Disney princess dress from home, and that way all you will spend money on is her hair/makeup. If the thought of this is too much, you can visit the boutique and ask the cast member for a free sprinkle of pixie dust in their hair. By the way, boys can join in on the fun and dress as a pirate with face painting and beards included.
The Disney Springs splash pads are a hit with families that have little ones. If you have younger kids, you may want to know that Disney Springs has two splash pads. The main one is located near Earl of Sandwich and a smaller one can be found behind the Christmas store. Since the weather in Orlando is usually pretty hot, this could be a nice and free idea to cool off a little. The couple of times I did this, I packed a towel and change of clothes.
Another idea involving water is to stand in front of the World of Disney store, where there is a statue of Stitch that spits water. Kids are often found right in front of where he shoots out water, hoping to get wet. If you are planning to visit Disney Springs with toddlers, taking advantage of these free Disney splash pads could turn into an extra fun time.
I would consider Splitsville to be “upscale bowling”. In addition to bowling, there is a bar, food, live music, and a dance floor. If there happens to be one of the usual Florida thunderstorms, this could be the place for some rainy day entertainment.
Sit and Watch a Concert
Disney Springs has a large outdoor stage area that has performances daily. If you happen to be walking by when there’s some live music, you may want to take a seat and enjoy some free entertainment.
Disney Springs has a couple of face painting kiosks that your child may enjoy. My daughter loves getting her face painted, and I tend to oblige every few times. For whatever reason, she loves picking out a Disney character and having her face transformed. I, however, am not a fan of the mess afterward. The things I do for my kids!
Sprinkles Cupcakes ATM
This is such a unique concept – getting a cupcake from an ATM. Not only are the cupcakes at Sprinkles in Disney Springs absolutely delicious, but just the act of ordering and receiving a cupcake from a pink ATM seems to bring joy to my kids.
Vintage Amphi Car Tours
Seeing a vintage car rolling on land and then floating on the water, was truly fun. Right next to Indiana Jones Hangar Bar and the Boathouse is the boat ramp for these classic cars. For $125 a car, you can have a captain take your group of 4 on a water tour around Lake Buena Vista in some old-school autos.
Aerophile Tethered Balloon
While our family has never done this, we have always considered it. The Areophile is the world’s largest tethered balloon. Guests can soar 400 feet into the air and hopefully see some Disney Park attractions on a whole new level. Prices are $20 per person for about 10 minutes of 360-degree views.
Star Wars Galactic Outpost
If you have any Star Wars fans in your family, this is a fun place to go. There are tons of unique gifts for kids and adults, and the make-your-own lightsaber is a must for kids.
I love this place. There are tons of unique Coke merchandise, decor and best of all, a rooftop beverage bar. When we visited World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, the kids loved tasting Cokes from around the world. Here you can do the same and order an international flight of soda and sample 16 different types of carbonated goodness.
Some of our Favorite Disney Springs Restaurants
Besides shopping, there’s plenty of great restaurants at Disney Springs for kids. Since Disney World seems to put a hole in my wallet, we tend to stick to casual and quick service restaurants when we visit Disney Springs. Here’s the whole list of restaurants at Disney Springs.
Wolfgang Puck Express – our go-to place for delicious pizza, butternut squash soup, pasta, and sandwiches.
Bongos Cuban Café Express– a great way to get in a little Cuban culture and a tasty medianoche, croqueta or flan.
Earl of Sandwich– another one of our go-to places for a great sandwich.
Disney Food Trucks—these are pretty new and area delicious.
Goofy’s Candy Company— It seems we can never leave Disney Springs without stopping in here for some cherry jelly beans, sour gummies, and other sugary snacks.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC— even though it is gluten free and vegan, it is one of the best cupcakes I have ever had. So moist and delicious!
Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop—our go-to ice cream place! Not only is their ice cream and singature chocolate amazing, but their cones and serving sizes are huge!
Raglan Road Irish Pub—A fun place to enjoy some Irish dancing, delicious pub food, and a great beer.
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar—The decor here is very cool if you are familiar with the Indiana Jones movies. They serve appetizers and themed drinks. We always try to stop in for a quick snack and drink and sit in their covered patio to see the Amphi cars and water taxis go by.
Our Favorite Disney Springs Stores
These are just a few of our favorite Disney Springs stores, but check out the whole list of stores here.
World of Disney– I mean, it is the largest Disney store in the world. How could you not come here?
Disney Days of Christmas– I am guilty of coming in and find a cute Disney ornament almost every time we visit.
Uniqlo – This huge store has some cheap Disney gear, as well as so many types of clothing. Great quality and great price.
D-Living—This place is great because it offers unqiue houseware and decor items for major Disney fans.
Whether you are traveling with toddler or kids who are a bit older, there are countless things to do at Disney Springs for kids. Spending some time here is a great way to break up your Disney vacation and spend a rest day. Sometimes when you are visiting the Disney Parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom or Epcot) on back to back days, you may need a day off to enjoy the other aspects Disney World has to offer.
Interested in some hotel recommendations? Check out my review on all five Disney value resorts and some great off-site choices for the best family resorts in Orlando. If you’re looking for ideas on what to bring to Disney, check out my Disney packing list for suggestions. I hope you consider visiting Disney Springs with kids next time you take a Disney World vacation.
Check out: Disney World Tips For First Timers
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