Disney Springs – family fun at night in Orlando. The best entertainment area after a day in the parks, a place for all ages.
Nearby, walking distance, are the best hotels for a visit to Disney’s theme parks.
This entertainment area has been around since the 70’s and has undergone many changes, including its name. It is located in the two “Disney cities”: Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake.
The Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village was the original name of this center outside Disney World. It was intended as a shopping area for those who were to move into the area associated with Disney’s establishment. We are talking mid 1970’s. But the expected moving boom did not happen. Thus, more and more hotels were built, and the area was adapted over time, linked directly to Disney tourism.
After the opening in 1975, the area quickly changed its name to Walt Disney World Village and then – for many years – became known as Downtown Disney.
The past few years have not only been characterized by a further name change. Above all a comprehensive expansion has taken place. From the construction of a parking garage to the area being extended to at least twice its former size.
After the renovation: Four different areas in Disney Springs
During the renovation Disney Springs has basically a construction site. Despite this, Disney Springs has retained its position as Orlando’s best area for a fun at night. Nothing is missing here and Orlando visitors who have the Disney’s parks as the main focus should seriously consider one of the best hotels in Lake Buena Vista for walking distance to restaurants and other pleasures.
After three years of renovation, Disney Springs now has four different areas:
- Market place – shops and restaurants, including the popular Rainforest Café. Located on the east side of the lot, this family oriented area offers opportunities to buy cool Disney souvenirs at the Disney’s Days at Christmas store.
- The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island), including Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. Here you also find The Paddlefish (formerly known as Fulton’s Crabhouse), originally named Empress Lilly after Walt Disney’s widow. Check out the amphicars, classic cars on land and on water.
- Town Center – a brand new area on the old parking lot. Mix of shopping and dining.
- West Side – with the huge AMC cinema. A lot of live entertainment and an elevated walkway to enjoy the view. Retro style Splitsville Luxury Lanes offer 30 bowling lanes, dining, live shows, billiards, and much more.
The architects who tried to copy environments from Old Florida, were inspired by St. Augustine (America’s oldest city) and Coral Gables in Miami (one of the oldest urban areas in the United States).
Paradiso 37 a favorite for outside dining
Some of the restaurants are on the seafront and if you are lucky and choose the right restaurant you might get a lake view table. A great favorite for many years is Paradiso 37 and here you should definitely try to get a table outdoors.
- TGIF (Friday’s), Uno Pizza and Red Lobster (a chain specialised in lobster dishes).
- Perkins is an excellent family restaurant.
- Fuddruckers serves “the world’s best burger”, according to their own advertising.
- Jannie Hideaway may not be top class but the bill will be.
There are lots of shops, most of them tourist oriented.
READ MORE: Watch out for ticket fraud in Orlando
In addition, Disney Springs offers several attractions. The most famous is the Cirque du Soleil, famous for its energetic performance, colorful costumes and compelling music.
Another very visible attraction is the air balloon “Sign in Flight”. The balloon takes you up to about 125 meters, giving you a great view of the Disney area. The balloon and its gondola are tied to long strings, which means that it can not move laterally.
The AMC cinema has 24 screens. One of them is “Auditorium One” and is supposedly one of America’s most technically advanced cinemas.
At “Fork and Screen” you can enjoy a meal and your favorite drink during the show. Minimum age is 18 years unless an adult is present. You order all food and drink directly from your seat. Each chair has a call button for the waiter’s attention.
House of Blues is a restaurant with live entertainment. You can not miss the big blue-eyed globe, Planet Hollywood, which is a big bar and restaurant.
The “Indiana Jones Pub” and Paddlefish
When Downtown Disney changed its name to Disney Springs the popular entertainment area also got a lot of new restaurants.
One that opened quite early (while the big construction project was still going on) was Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar with a theme inspired by the Indiana Jones movies.
The restaurant accommodates 150 guests and is furnished with airplane paraphernalia, such as aircraft propellers that serve as ceiling fans. On the menu you find dishes like the “Rolling Boulder Meatballs” , “Air Pirates Everything Pretzels” and “Hovito Mojito”. We guess the place will be called the Indiana Jones pub?
A well-known Disney restaurant has a new menu and a new name: Fulton’s Crab House now is called Paddlefish. Well-established and well-known Fulton’s Crab House has been an institution for as long as we can remember. Many of the old classics are still on the menu. Plus some new ones.
Spontaneously I chosed a tuna variant as an appetizer and was excited about the Lobster Risotto as main course. Key Lime Pie for dessert.
Lake Buena Vista largest workplace in the US
Lake Buena Vista – the village that became the center of the entire Disney empire as a brand for Disney productions.
Lake Buena Vista and its Disney affiliated companies are actually the largest workplace in the United States – but hardly anybody lives here.
In fact, Lake Buena Vista is still a small village. Only a handful of people actually live here!
But the more people work here. With over 60,000 employees, Walt Disney World Resort is the USA’s largest employer in one place. The city’s name is now part of Disney’s brand.
To be exact, Disney World covers two towns. The other is Bay Lake, with less than 50 inhabitants.
If Disney World has made a major change for all of Orlando, this became even clearer for the small town, or rather the village, Lake Buena Vista.
Everything went on record when Disney came in
Wilderness became the world’s largest theme park, now called “the busiest place in America”.
On paper still a small village, only about 10 people have Lake Buena Vista as their mailing address. But it is the mailing address of all Disney activities in Florida. The city is simply controlled by the Disney Empire, which also applies to neighboring Bay Lake.
Lake Buena Vista is the workplace of many thousands of people, and this is not only true for the staff at the Disney parks. Most of them live northeast of Orlando though, which is one of the reasons for the traffic issues on I4 during rush hours.
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All content on this page and other parts of FloridaUSAguide is based on information from the Scandinavian online publication Florida.nu, established in Clearwater Beach, Florida, 2006.