We’ve spent a good amount of time showing you what it is like at Walt Disney World. With lots of COVID-19 precautions visiting Walt Disney World right now is unlike any other time before it. Things are different inside Disney Springs too. So let’s take a look at what to expect at Orlando’s largest shopping and dining destination.
Weekends have always been busy at Disney Springs. Now that regular travel is reduced and Florida residents make up the lion’s share of visitors at Walt Disney World, you can expect a dramatic difference in crowds on the weekend. Based on our observations this weekend at Disney Springs here are some of our top tips.
- Visit early in the morning.
- Make dining reservations.
- Get familiar with shops ahead of time and make a plan for which ones are must-dos.
- Walk near the water.
- Take breaks.
Most shops at Disney Springs open at 10:00 a.m. The parking structures and parking lots open well in advance and you are welcome to walk around while waiting for the shops to open. Most restaurants and dining locations open by 11:00 a.m. Disney Springs is very much an afternoon and evening destination, so you can get a leg up by getting there early.
There are so many great dining options at Disney Springs. Some of the highest-rated restaurants at Walt Disney World are here at Disney Springs. Two favorites of our readers are Homecomin’ by Chef Art Smith and Jaleo by Chef José Andrés. Both are highly rated from over 500,000 surveys completed by our readers. On our site you can view ratings for all Walt Disney World restaurants. You can also use our Reservation Finder tool to help secure those hard-to-find reservations. This tool is free to use, but becoming a TouringPlans Subscriber is a great way to say “thanks” for the tools and resources we offer.
There are over 150 shops at Disney Springs. Some favorites are World of Disney, the Marketplace Co-Op – which includes the popular Dress Shoppe, the LEGO Store, and UNIQLO. It’s a good idea to browse the list of Disney Springs shops ahead of time and select which ones you absolutely must visit. These shops can get really busy on the weekends and there is reduced capacity due to COVID-19 precautions.
During our trip this weekend there was a 15-minute wait just to get into World of Disney. We’ve seen this happen quite often on busy weekends. Capacity inside stores is reduced to allow for safe distancing. There are also designated entrances and exits at many stores. You’ll want to be prepared for a little extra walking and paying attention to signs.
Walkways can get crowded on weekends. I have found that if I stay near the waterline, walking along the lake, there are less people, and prettier views. It is also a good idea to take breaks if you are making a full day of visiting Disney Springs, just like you would at a theme park.
There are quite a few things in the works at Disney Springs too. A local favorite bakery is coming to Disney Springs. Gideon’s Bakeshop has cookies and cakes unlike anything you’ve seen or tasted elsewhere. Gideon’s has been operating at East End Market, a great local hangout if you’re ever looking to explore one of Orlando’s coolest neighborhoods. Gideon’s cookies are dense, and more like a cake or fudge than a traditional cookie. Most locals slice the cookies into fourths and share or save some for later. No official opening date for Gideon’s Disney Springs has been announced, but it should be opening very soon.
Over at Disney Springs West Side you’ll find lots of construction, more than any other portion of Disney Springs. Beatrix is a fresh concept coming to the spot where Bongo’s Cuban Cafe used to be. Sadly there is no sign of progress at this site. We could not see any building frame in place so it looks like it will be a long while before Beatrix actually comes into existence.
Around the corner, between Splitsville and the AMC Theater, you can see things are progressing well at Everglazed. This cold brew coffee and doughnut shop replaces the Pop Gallery. It will be nice to have a breakfast option on this side of Disney Springs.
Also over on the West Side, the M&Ms Store continues its construction work.
Sadly, two attractions at Disney Springs West Side remain closed for the foreseeable future. The poor unfortunate NBA Experience barely got its footing and then it shut down as part of the March 2020 COVID-19 shut down. It has not reopened due to the hands-on nature of its attractions. Despite Disney’s involvement in the NBA Playoffs and Finals, there is no reopening date.
Just a few buildings away, the beautiful Cirque du Soleil theater remains shuttered. An incredible new show themed around Disney animation was set to debut in Spring 2020. In fact, a media preview of the show took place at the beginning of March this year. The future of this show is unclear at this point.
Despite all the construction at West Side, and the weekend crowds, now is a fun time to visit Disney Springs. Fall festive decor and treats abound, and the holiday season is on its way. Just get there early and plan ahead.
Have you been to Disney Springs lately? What are your favorite things to do at Disney Springs?