Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Disney Springs : Changes and Restrictions
- Best Things to Do at Disney Springs with Kids
- 1. Visit the Coca-Cola Store
- 2. Soar Via Characters in Flight
- 3. Eat Dessert First
- 4. Bowl (and Eat) at Splitsville
- 5. Play at the LEGO Store
- 6. Eat Your Heart Out
- 7. Take a Boat (or Car Boat) Ride
- 8. Browse the Specialty Stores
- 9. Kid-Friendly Rides at Disney Springs
- 10. Celebrate Disney World's 50th Anniversary
- 11. Character Dining Outside the Parks
- Where Can I Buy Discount Disney Tickets?
Wondering what Disney Springs is? Well, it’s an entertainment area close to Disney where you can shop, eat, and have some fun as a family. There’s no admission fee so it’s perfect for a Disney non park day or days there aren’t park reservations available. Sometimes parents ask, is Disney Springs worth it for families? We say yes! These are some of the best family-friendly things to do at Disney Springs.
From floating cars to terrific food to unique Disney shopping, Disney Springs is always on my family’s must-visit list during a Walt Disney World vacation. Without a doubt, Disney Springs has some of the best things to do outside the Disney theme parks. It also fills an important spot in the bubble of Disney Magic. With park reservations required at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT families can still visit Disney Springs without a reservation.
Disney Springs also offers TONS of dining options and can be the perfect dinner spot, especially for those staying off-property. Still looking for a hotel? Here are some of our favorite off-property hotel options for your Disney trip.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Check out these Disney World FAQs to get all of the info you need about visiting Disney.
Disney Springs : Changes and Restrictions
Most operations at Disney Springs have returned to the way they were pre-covid closures. A few changes remain. Here’s what you need to know before you go:
- Expect social distancing measures and capacity limits in some restaurants and stores. Check the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date information on closures or hours of operation for experiences, stores, and restaurants at Disney Springs. Allow extra time to park in case garages are at capacity.
- Reservations are NOT required to visit Disney Springs.
- Hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations have been set up throughout Disney Springs.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Rev up the pre-trip excitement with this easy DIY Disney countdown calendar.
Best Things to Do at Disney Springs with Kids
Here are my family’s favorite things to do in at Disney Springs:
1. Visit the Coca-Cola Store
This is the place to indulge your inner Coca-Cola fan. The store sells an array of Coca-Cola branded gear, but the first thing we do is head upstairs to meet the beloved Coca-Cola Polar Bear for a photo op on the second level of the store.
Then we tempt our taste buds on the rooftop bar via the Coca-Cola Freestyle Experience. That lets us sample up to 5 different drinks or create our own from the 100 self-serve choices. In the evenings, the rooftop bar offers a variety of adult beverages, handcrafted cocktails and smoothies.
The view alone is worth a visit, especially at nighttime!
2. Soar Via Characters in Flight
Soaring 400 feet into the air in the world’s largest tethered helium balloon is an experience my family didn’t quickly forget. This Disney Springs attraction is an extra ticketed experience, but Characters in Flight tickets are often available at a discount on Groupon. Even if you pay full price, it’s one of the things that is worth the splurge at Disney Springs.
The balloon basket holds up to 29 guests per ride and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Disney Springs area. This exhilarating ride can be found on the West Side of Disney Springs, near Splitsville.
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SheBuysTravel Tip: The ride doesn’t fly during a storm or when the winds are 22 mph or higher.
3. Eat Dessert First
It’s a family vacation, so let them eat cake! With the plethora of specialty dessert shops at Disney Springs, you might even want to let them eat dessert first. From Amorette’s Patisserie to Vivoli Il Gelato to the famous Sprinkles (where the kids love to get their cupcakes via the cupcake ATM), there is something for everyone when it comes to sweet treats.
Traveling Mom Tip: Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC offers delicious gluten-free, kosher, and vegan treats freshly prepared daily. It can be found near The BOATHOUSE restaurant in The Landing section of Disney Springs.
New in 2022 Salt & Straw, a Portland-based ice cream boutique, opened at Disney Springs. They’ve already got a location at Downtown Disney in Anaheim California. With flavors like Cold Brew Coffee Cashew Praline (!) and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle it’s worth a stop in.
4. Bowl (and Eat) at Splitsville
Splitsville Luxury Lanes has a hip retro vibe, but it definitely is not your grandpa’s bowling alley. Splitsville is a two-story bowling alley with gourmet food options and 2 sushi bars.
If bowling isn’t really your thing, there is also live music and dancing to add to the excitement of the evening. Splitsville bowling costs are kind of a veiled secret right now. To even try to reserve you have to go through an online form like you’re booking a party. The pricing that we were sent for walk in bowling was $18/per person before 4pm and $22/per person 4pm to closing. These prices include shoe rentals. The time you are given to bowl is dependent on the number of people in your party. A party of 1-2 people is given an hour, for every 1-2 people added from there an extra 15 minutes is added. We recommend calling or filling out the form on site as prices can change and priority reserved pricing is slightly different.
5. Play at the LEGO Store
The Disney Springs LEGO Store is a great place for kids to unleash their creativity (and for parents to take a load off). Bricks are free to build and play with; no purchase is necessary to play. If you sign up for the VIP program before your visit you’ll receive a coupon for a free LEGO keychain with purchase.
Don’t miss the amazing LEGO sculptures of iconic Disney characters and scenes! We like to make it a game to see how many different sculptures we can find.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Planning to build your own custom minifigure in the Minifigure Factory? Be sure to book your 30 minute slot ahead of time on LEGO’s website. The cost is $11.99 and your imagination is the limit.
6. Eat Your Heart Out
Another fun aspect of Disney Springs is the incredible variety of dining options. Families can choose upscale eats or quick bites, and either option will satisfy the desire for more than “the usual.” My kids especially love the interactive restaurants like Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe.
Food trucks, located in Exposition Park on the West Side of Disney Springs, offer fast fare at an affordable price. New restaurants are added each year, so there is something new to explore each time we visit. Check your My Disney Experience app to see where the trucks are located.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know to Plan the Best Disney World Vacation Ever!
7. Take a Boat (or Car Boat) Ride
Part of the fun of Disney Springs is getting there and the unique ways to travel to, from and around the area. One of the best is the 20 minute ride on one of the vintage Amphicars docked next to The BOATHOUSE restaurant. This is one of the Disney Springs attractions you’ll be talking about for a long time. Your Amphicar drives into the water and scoots around Lake Buena Vista.
That ride is an extra fee and definitely qualifies as a splurge. For no extra cost, guests can board a ferry boat in Disney Springs and be transported to select resorts (and vice versa). Often times, it’s the simple things, like a casual boat ride, that are the most fun for families.
8. Browse the Specialty Stores
No visit to Disney Springs is complete without some quality shopping time. New stores open all the time.
Disney Style offers all the popular items seen on the Disney Style Instagram page. Once Upon a Toy has a cool Mr. Potato Head building center where kids can build their own Mr. Potato Head, but don’t necessarily have to make a purchase. In the Galactic Outpost, Star Wars fans can build a lightsaber or droid to take home.
9. Kid-Friendly Rides at Disney Springs
No tickets to the parks? No problem! Yes, there are rides at Disney Springs. Kids can ride family favorites like the classic Marketplace Carousel and Marketplace Train Express for a small fee.
While these rides are low on thrills, they are high on making little ones smile. My girls always loved riding these when they were smaller. I miss how excited they used to get riding what seemed like simple rides at the time.
Need help planning your Disney trip? Get all your questions answered from our Disney Planning & Fun Facebook Group!
10. Celebrate Disney World’s 50th Anniversary
October 2021 kicked off Walt Disney World’s 18 month long 50th Anniversary celebration. We cover all of the 50th Anniversary details here and share some of our favorite 50th Anniversary Disney merchandise. Of course Disney Springs is folded into the festivities. Check out special merch, including the Disney Vault Collection, in the stores. Feast on special celebratory treats like the Nifty Fifty donut at Everglazed Donuts or the Pignata at Frontera Cocina. One unique special offering is the first collaboration of its kind- Cirque de Soleil and Disney have teamed up to present a 50th Anniversary Celebration Offering show, Drawn to Life. The show centers around an animator’s desk where drawings come to life and we think it looks magical.
11. Character Dining Outside the Parks
For a low stress, budget-friendly character dining option, make the short walk over from Disney Springs attractions to the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, dine with classic Disney characters during breakfast hours in the gorgeous Lakeview Restaurant.
When I visited, the food was excellent, and the dining room was not crowded. The character interaction experience felt much less rushed and much more enjoyable than traditional character dining options.
Where Can I Buy Discount Disney Tickets?
Searching online for discount Disney tickets can feel overwhelming. It’s important to make sure you’re buying from a reputable website. Our SheBuysTravel team recommends Get Away Today for discount Disney tickets and vacation packages.
If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it! Great customer service is another reason why we recommend Get Away Today. From buying your tickets to planning your Disney vacation, they help you every step of the way. Read our full review of Get Away Today here.
If you want to know what it would cost to go to Disney World for your family, ask for a free quote here.
I’m in love with Disney Springs. There are so many activities available to visitors that you can get tired as if you were in the park. I loved riding the Aerophile!
Teresa Clarke says
I have twins, 3 1/2 years old and cannot afford disney. Is it worth taking themto disney springs and are there things or them to keep busy.
Karen Forster says
Thank you for your input we would not know about these places and we have kids we would love to take there and don’t have a lot of money so thank you so much
Thank you for these suggestions!! This is so very helpful as we want to have a “Disney experience “ without having to commit to a park.
thanks for the update on what to do at Disney Springs. I had seen the balloon in pictures, but had no idea it was tettered or you could ride it! Must be a great view if you are brave enough he he…
We still have to get on that fun balloon ride! Great ideas on what to do with our families at Disney Springs!