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Disney Springs (nee Downtown Disney) rolls out fab family dining, shopping and entertainment

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Fun fish tacos at the Boathouse at Disney Springs
Fun fish tacos at the Boathouse at Disney Springs

By Eileen Ogintz

ORLANDO, FL (DAY TWO) — We’re in a car driving straight into the lake and we’re laughing, not calling 911.

That’s because we’re in a vintage Amphicar at The Boathouse restaurant at Disney Springs.

What was once called Downtown Disney  has just been renamed Disney Springs with new restaurants like the Boathouse, new shopping outlets (ready for some custom painted Tom’s sandals?) and new acts at Cirque du Soleil. There are Food Trucks, a Starbucks that serves wine and the largest Disney merchandize store in the world.  No worries if they don’t have your size—use the new Shop Disney Parks app to locate what you want and you can have it delivered to your hotel.

Book your little princess the new Frozen package at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique  where people make reservations months in advance. You may recall Pleasure Island which was designed for adults—that’s gone. Now there is the Market Place, the landing with all kinds of themed restaurant and bar options.  Think sipping a drink at Dockside Margaritas while the kids dance to live music or a specialty cocktail while the kids have mocktails and sliders at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar bar themed to Indiana Jones.

Portobello Restautant at Disney Springs in Orlando
Portobello Restautant at Disney Springs in Orlando

There is Splittsville for bowling, Vivoli il Giloto—only the second location outside of Florence, a place to trade pins.  See movies at a Dine-in Theater, ride a carousel and shop till you drop.  The kids can make their own Mr. Potato Head or a droid at Once Upon a Toy; customize a tea shirt at Disney Design-a-Tee; or make your own personalized phone case .  There is a high-end chocolate shop, The Ganachery, where you can watch the chocolate artisans at work a Super Hero headquarters and Star Wars Galactic Outpost. Kids can play for hours at the Lego store or watch live performances throughout the day at the Waterside Stage Buy a hat at Chapel Hats or personalized flip flops at Havianas.

By this summer, there will be over 60 third party retailers in the new Town Center neighborhood—everyone from Lilly Pulitzer to Uniglo to Sprinkles with its cupcake ATM machines.

Amazing decor at Morimoto Restaurant at Disney Springs
Amazing decor at Morimoto Restaurant at Disney Springs

This being Disney of course there is a story here—Disney Springs is supposed to be like a Florida Natural Springs around which a community grew.  Check out the chandeliers at Morimoto (water bottling). Jock’s was the airplane hanger; the new STK Orlando steakhouse in what was a train station.  There’s even a Vegan, Gluten Free dairy free place for treats—Bakery NY.

Shopping, the experts say, always ranks high for what people want to do on vacation. So does food.  It’s nice when it’s so much fun.


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