When the announcements about Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney being transformed into Disney Springs came out, I’ll admit I was sceptical. As I am, I’ll be perfectly honest, about a lot of the changes that WDW announce. It’s not that I don’t trust them, but I am definitely one of those guests who liked things ‘how they were’. I have a huge sense of nostalgia when it comes to WDW, so any changes that will affect how I think about and look forward to my trips there always make me a little nervous.
Downtown Disney is, traditionally, the first place my family and I visit when we arrive in Florida. Well, the first place we visit on our first full day (landing day doesn’t really count because we tend to just eat somewhere simple, like Cracker Barrel or even Wendy’s, then proceed to fall fast asleep. Hopefully back at the villa but not necessarily). So when I think about it I get excited because it represents that first day excitement that is unmatched by almost anything else I feel.
For a few years I watched as those construction walls went up, and so much of my beloved DTD was turned into a building site. There were only illustrations on construction walls to suggest what may be, years from that point.
On my visit to Orlando in March this year, I got to experience Disney Springs as Disney Springs for the first time. I was blown away by how wonderful it is. Parts of it are unrecognisable from what they were only a few years ago, but in such a good way! That wasted space where Pleasure Island once was has been absolutely transformed.
All those new shops and restaurants! That huuuuge UniQlo definitely has my heart. Oh, and The Boathouse and Hangar Bar are both EXCELLENT. If you haven’t tried either of them, I can thoroughly recommend both (fun tip: ask your server in Hangar Bar about all of the different coasters they have. There are loads of them! Our server brought over four or five of each one because I was so entertained by them, and I still use them at home!)
I’m sort of confused by the geography of the newer areas, though – the distances between areas seems to have shrunk. It used to take ages to get from World of Disney to the AMC Theatre and now they’re right around the corner from each other! Is that Disney magic or just me being daft?!
I love that the Marketplace area is still as it was, although it has to be said it now does look tired in comparison to the newer areas. The new non-Disney shops may have upset some Disney purists, but it still has that wonderfully immersive feeling that only Disney can provide, and Disney touches are everywhere you look. It’s a job well done, and I’m so happy that it is.