ENTERTAINMENT AT DISNEY SPRINGS
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!).
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 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
Festivals at Disney Springs