WDW Magazine - - Disney Springs - BY COURT­NEY VIC­TOR RUSS

When try­ing to plan and pri­or­i­tize a trip to WDW, Down­town Dis­ney of­ten gets pushed to the bot­tom of the list. This is espe­cially true for fam­i­lies with lit­tle ones be­cause, at the end of the day, what kid wouldn’t choose fire­works and Mickey ears over shop­ping and restau­rants? But there is so much more to it than that!

Dis­ney’s “re­brand­ing” of Down­town Dis­ney to Dis­ney Springs is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to re­mind vis­i­tors of just how much this non-park has to of­fer.

La Nouba: Cirque du Soleil…

If you have never ex­pe­ri­enced a Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba is per­fect for first-timers. Lit­er­ally trans­lat­ing to “The Party,” La Nouba of­fers a fun and ex­cit­ing show with­out the con­trived plot­line of other Cirque shows of­ten leav­ing the au­di­ence con­fused. La Nouba on the other hand daz­zles with a col­or­ful com­bi­na­tion of im­agery, mu­sic, ac­ro­bat­ics, and cir­cus acts, with over 65 cast mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing more than 15 na­tions from across the globe.

L’ex­pe­ri­ence: The Ul­ti­mate Way to Ex­pe­ri­ence La Nouba…

If you’re any­thing like me, the me­chan­ics be­hind the magic can be just as ex­cit­ing as the

PHOTO BY CLIFF WANG show it­self and luck­ily Dis­ney of­fers a way for you to learn all about it with L’ex­pe­ri­ence. For $250 a head, guests have ac­cess to Le Théâtre (the the­ater) be­fore the show, as well as a back­stage tour af­ter­wards.

Not only will you learn all about the Cirque du Soleil Com­pany and the show it­self, you’ll also get a rare look at the ex­tra­or­di­nary cos­tum­ing department, a meet-and-greet/photo-op with one of the cast mem­bers, a coupon for the Cirque Bou­tique (plus some pop­u­lar Cirque swag), and front and cen­ter tick­ets, giv­ing you the best seats in the house. If you have the ex­tra time and cash, this is cer­tainly an ex­pe­ri­ence you and your fam­ily won’t soon for­get!

The West Side

Din­ner and a movie…

Din­ner and a movie sounds like a pretty stan­dard out­ing but just like ev­ery­thing at WDW, noth­ing comes stan­dard. The AMC 24 The­ater Com­plex shows the hottest films with sta­dium seat­ing and the high­est qual­ity film screen­ing sys­tems avail­able. It also has an up­graded au­di­to­rium pro­vid­ing an En­hanced The­ater Ex­pe­ri­ence (ETX), which boasts a gi­gan­tic higher than res­o­lu­tion HD floor-to-ceil­ing screen with 3D ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

What movie is com­plete with­out pop­corn and a foun­tain drink? You can get those clas­sic movie sta­ples and more at the Mar­ket­place Con­ces­sions Stand. And for the 21 and older movie­goer, you can grab an al­co­holic bev­er­age at Macguffins Bar and Lounge.

Fork & Screen Dine-in The­atres…

But if you’re re­ally look­ing for that up­graded movie ex­pe­ri­ence, check out Fork & Screen Dine-in The­atres. Guests over-18 (or ac­com­pa­nied by a par­ent/guardian) can have the best of both worlds by se­lect­ing from a va­ri­ety of Amer­i­can dishes and drinks as they en­joy a new film on the big screen. And if that wasn’t enough, you can up­grade your seats to in­clude seat-side ser­vice with a per­sonal call but­ton—now that’s ser­vice!

Splitsville Lux­ury Lanes…

If you’re look­ing for an ac­tiv­ity that gives you a lit­tle more face time with your fam­ily and friends, bowl­ing in the most lux­u­ri­ous of set­tings is a fan­tas­tic op­tion! Fea­tur­ing glam­orous retro dé­cor, Splitsville trans­forms this Amer­i­can clas­sic into a mod­ern up­scale af­fair ev­ery­one can en­joy.

This 2-story bowl­ing al­ley is made up of 30 lanes, a bil­liards and dance area, 5 bars, 2 sushi bars, a full-ser­vice din­ing room and pa­tio (where you can use the DDP), as well as an op­tion to dine at your lane. So strap on your bowl­ing shoes and get ready for some friendly com­pe­ti­tion!

Am­phicar Ride at Dis­ney Springs!


House of Blues…

If you’re a mu­sic fan, there is no place bet­ter than House of Blues. You can al­ways be guar­an­teed to find live mu­sic at the House of Blues but on se­lect dates through­out the year you will find world fa­mous mu­si­cal acts and some of the best new artists right in the heart of Dis­ney Springs’ West Side. With a di­ver­si­fied range of mu­si­cal styles to hear through­out the year—from rock and heavy metal, to R&B and gospel, to reg­gae and hip-hop, all the way to Latin and the blues (well, ob­vi­ously!).

Stop into Cross­roads: The Restau­rant at the House of Blues for some south­ern com­fort food and funky cock­tails be­fore you hit the show and en­joy the free live entertainment of­fered there each night, then head over to “The Hall” to en­joy a con­cert with 1,999 other mu­sic fans!

Char­ac­ters in Flight…

Have a few ex­tra min­utes and a few ex­tra bucks ($12/child, $18/adult) to spare while vis­it­ing Dis­ney Springs’ West Side? Why not take a ride up to the sky in a hand-painted helium bal­loon cov­ered in beloved Dis­ney char­ac­ters?!

For an 8-10 minute flight, guests will rise into the air and get a stun­ning 360-de­gree view of not only Dis­ney Springs but also up to 10 miles of Dis­ney parks and re­sorts! How many land­marks will you spot? It’s a quick and easy ac­tiv­ity that you and your fam­ily will al­ways re­mem­ber (and def­i­nitely should ex­pe­ri­ence at least once!) with­out the risk of float­ing away.

COM­ING SOON: The NBA Ex­pe­ri­ence at WDW…

There have al­ways been var­ied feel­ings when it comes to Dis­neyquest—the enor­mous 5-story, in­door in­ter­ac­tive theme park oper­at­ing since June of 1998—from its open­ing to now its clos­ing, those mixed emo­tions have re­mained con­sis­tent.

On June 30, 2015, WDW an­nounced that Dis­neyquest would close its doors for good some­time in 2016 (an ex­act date is still yet to be re­leased). It is al­ways sad to see a Dis­ney at­trac­tion go, but we can turn our at­ten­tion to­wards the fu­ture and re­ally get ex­cited about its re­place­ment: The NBA Ex­pe­ri­ence!

With just the sheer size of Dis­neyquest, those were go­ing to be some se­ri­ous shoes to fill… And who bet­ter to fill gi­ant shoes than NBA play­ers?

Dis­ney’s new NBA Ex­pe­ri­ence is said to be a brand-new type of in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence fea­tur­ing a va­ri­ety of hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties that’ll al­low guests to dive into the world of the NBA and the true feel­ing of what it means to be a pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball player, putting vis­i­tors right in the mid­dle of the ac­tion—so get ready for tip-off! We are also told that a Nba-themed restau­rant and re­tail store will be in­cluded.

Though we don’t have a lot of de­tails on what all is go­ing to fill the 5 floors of the Dis­neyquest build­ing, bas­ket­ball fans of all ages will surely find this new one-of-a-kind ex­pe­ri­ence to be a “slam dunk!”


One of the first new ad­di­tions to make a splash at Dis­ney Springs ( lit­er­ally!) was The BOATHOUSE, lo­cated in the new “Land­ing” area. The Board­walk Inn is no longer the only board­walk at the WDW Re­sort as The BOATHOUSE is built on more than 300 feet of board­walk con­nect­ing three bars and din­ing rooms, plus 2 pri­vate din­ing ar­eas.

With 3 orig­i­nal bars— the Dock Bar, Ad­mi­ral’s Club, and Cap­tain’s Raw Bar—over­look­ing the water, The BOATHOUSE is the ideal spot to grab one of their clas­sic cock­tails and take a stroll through the Ma­rina, which show­cases a fleet of 19 rare boats, then stum­ble into the nau­ti­cally- themed Ship’s Store to find that spe­cial gift fit for the boats­man in your life ( I don’t know about you but I al­ways do my best shop­ping after a toddy… or two!).

The Land­ing

Boat Tours

While The BOATHOUSE restau­rants/bars are im­pres­sive, it is the unique boat tours that are re­ally turn­ing heads! You don’t have to be a life­long boater to join in on the Boathouse Har­bour Mas­ter fes­tiv­i­ties, you can hop on the 19th-cen­tury steam­boat, the Lady Rose and in­dulge in some choco­late-cov­ered straw­ber­ries and a cham­pagne toast as the daily flag cer­e­monies and bu­gle stan­dards are per­formed.

Look­ing for that quick ro­man­tic get­away amidst the crazi­ness of a Dis­ney va­ca­tion? Well look no fur­ther! Now you can show the love in your life just how spe­cial they are by board­ing the Cap­tain’s Ital­ian Water Taxi and hav­ing a ro­man­tic boat get­away—if only for 20 min­utes.

Ro­mance not your top WDW pri­or­ity? No prob­lem! The thing that’s re­ally get­ting buzz around Dis­ney Springs are the Am­phi­cars! With a fleet of vin­tage pas­tel con­vert­ible cars the glide straight into the water, these pri­vate 20-minute water tours of Dis­ney Springs are sure to de­light fam­ily and friends of all ages!

The Mar­ket­place

The Mar­ket­place is one of my fa­vorite ar­eas for find­ing ac­tiv­i­ties at ev­ery turn! Even din­ing at the Rain­for­est Café is an ac­tiv­ity in it­self and the rest of the food of­fer­ings are per­fect grab-and-go op­tions so you never have to slow down.

Fun for lit­tle ones…

If you have lit­tle ones, this is the place to be: the whole fam­ily can take a spin on the clas­sic Mar­ket­place Carousel or en­joy a mini-train-ride on the Mar­ket­place Train Ex­press ($2/child, free for adults). Or make an ap­point­ment at the Bib­bidi Bob­bidi Bou­tique and give your lit­tle princess or pirate the ul­ti­mate Dis­ney makeover by one of their Fairy God­moth­ers In Train­ing.

Call­ing all older kids…

For the older kid­dos (or if you’re like me and have a 25-year-old Lego-ob­sessed fam­ily mem­ber), noth­ing is more fun than ex­plor­ing the amaz­ing LEGO store and tak­ing home your very own LEGO cre­ation.

Look­ing for a sou­venir that can lit­er­ally fit the whole fam­ily? De­sign a tee-shirt ev­ery­one can wear for the per­fect fam­ily photo at Dis­ney De­sign-a-tee. Right next-door is Dis­ney’s Won­der­ful World of Mem­o­ries so you can re­ally make that photo spe­cial, sell­ing photo al­bums, sta­tion­ary, scrap­book­ing ma­te­ri­als and other things to make your WDW mem­o­ries re­ally last!

Dance the night away…

There is no bet­ter way to fin­ish off your evening at Dis­ney Springs than by par­tak­ing in a wild fam­ily dance party!

Held ev­ery night at the Water­side Stage, with fa­vorite Dis­ney Springs DJS and a num­ber of vis­it­ing acts through­out the year, fam­i­lies can en­joy the nightly DJ Kids Dance Party. So grab your fam­ily by the hand and get ready to cut a rug Dis­ney style!

Fes­ti­val of the Mas­ters…

What makes Fes­ti­val of the Mas­ters so mag­i­cal is that it’s free to at­tend!

It is an open-air art fes­ti­val, which fea­tures over 150 award-win­ning artists each year. It is nor­mally held over one weekend in Novem­ber through­out all of Dis­ney Springs and of­fers a num­ber of fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties ap­peal­ing to mem­bers young and old!

Fes­ti­val of the Sea­sons…

Just like the rest of WDW, Dis­ney Springs re­ally knows how to turn it up dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son and Fes­ti­val of the Sea­sons does just that!

Last­ing just over a month (this past year be­ing held from Novem­ber 13-De­cem­ber 24, 2015), there is no lack of Christ­mas cheer to be found at Dis­ney Springs! With live entertainment—in­clud­ing car­ol­ers, con­certs, and even stilt walk­ers—a dis­play of danc­ing lights, spe­cialty hol­i­day items and snacks for sale, a gi­ant tree daz­zling in the night, and a meet-and-greet/photo-op with the big guy him­self, Santa Claus! So ditch the mall this year and come down to Dis­ney Springs to have your ul­ti­mate “char­ac­ter” ex­pe­ri­ence!

Next time you are plan­ning your WDW va­ca­tion, don’t for­get to make time to visit Dis­ney Springs. Not only will you have the op­por­tu­nity to par­take in a wide va­ri­ety of fam­ily-fun ac­tiv­i­ties, you’ll get to sam­ple an ar­ray of de­li­cious eats (and drinks!), and get all of your shop­ping out of the way!

Dis­ney Springs Water­side Dance Party Open­ing

Rob­bie Gomez

Fes­ti­vals at Dis­ney Springs

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