If you’re planning a vacation to Walt Disney World, then it wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Although it isn’t inside the Disney Parks, Disney Springs is just as magical. Disney Springs offers a little extra in your budget for splurges because there’s no ticket needed for admission. Check out nine of the Disney Springs splurges you should consider on your next visit.
Disney Springs is a must visit for my family on every trip we take to Walt Disney World and when I think about splurges, Disney Springs splurges are my personal favorites. Disney Springs holds a special place in my heart because it’s the first Disney Parks location I took my oldest son as a 3 year old. I will always treasure the memory of that day.
My last visit, I stayed at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista hotel. I loved the property because it is the closest hotel to Disney Springs and offers a great rate to be right next to the action. Also because it’s on Disney property and so close to the action, it offers free shuttles to the parks. The shops offer a free package delivery service to the hotel for all the purchases I make, even for my Disney Spring splurges.
Foods worth a Disney Springs Splurge
Your first splurge at Disney Springs should be on the food. Disney Springs has such a variety of restaurants and sweet treats to choose from that you should save up just a few calories for the food choices. Don’t worry about splurging too much. With all the walking you’ll do around the parks over the week, it’s more than worth it!
For lunch or sandwich option, make sure you splurge at Earl of Sandwich. There are only 33 locations worldwide so this is not your average chain. What makes it a true splurge is the fresh baked bread for their hot sandwiches and unique menu combinations. On my last visit, I experienced the Holiday Turkey sandwich. It tasted like the day after the best Thanksgiving dinner and honestly reminded me of being home with my family. It’s made with carved slices of moist turkey layered with cornbread stuffing, a smooth turkey gravy and dressed with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. I can’t wait to go back after just thinking about it! The other options for hot sandwiches, wraps, salads, pizza breads, and artisan soups are just as satisfying and worth the splurge.
Traveling Mom Tip: Earl of Sandwich is popular and made fresh to order so allow at least 30 minutes to an hour for your visit. They do offer Just for Kids menu options for even the pickiest of eaters.
For an upscale dinner event, you have to try STK. This splurge offers the best aspects of a traditional steakhouse like attention to detail, knowledgeable servers and staff and the most important menu standards of a steakhouse, perfectly cooked steaks from porterhouse to filet medallions. One thing STK doesn’t have is the traditional stuffiness of a steakhouse. STK boasts a DJ booth, an upscale sleek interior complete with white leather banquettes, drop pendant lighting and a white longhorn sculpture on the first floor. The second floor is just as sleek and modern with an outdoor dining space providing views of Disney Springs and a section with high top dining around a fire pit.
Traveling Mom Tip: STK is open to families and has a Kids Menu but as the evening progresses, the atmosphere downstairs transforms more into a nightclub. Consider asking to be seated upstairs or on the outside patio with younger children.
The menu at STK hasn’t suffered at the expense of the décor. The bread served to the table is freshly baked individual loafs in cast iron skillets and topped with STK’s signature melted Blue Butter. Everything I tried during my visit was absolutely worth the calorie splurges. The shaved Brussel sprout salad had a crisp bite that I liked. The true taste of the ingredients came through with a light dressing that showcase the apples, cranberries, cheese and almonds. The Lil BRGs, a flight of STK mini burgers, are among my favorite burgers even though I’m not a huge fan of beef.
Because this is a steakhouse, I wasn’t surprised to find nine different options for steaks with seven toppings and six sauce options. I asked someone having the steaks how they were and I was rewarded with huge smile and thumbs ups; she didn’t even want to take a minute to talk about it!
Experiences worth a Disney Springs Splurge
The next area where you have to splurge is on the unique experiences at Disney Springs. Going into the parks is a magical experience but some days you’ll want to take things a little easier and just have a single focus. On those days, I vote for one splurge experience at Disney Springs and then going back to your hotel for a relaxing swim by the pool.
First on my list is the Amphicar. The Boathouse at Disney Springs is the only place in the world where you can take a ride on these vintage car and boat combos. You start out at a dock and just drive into the lake for a 30 minute tour. The $125 per half hour might be a slight splurge considering you’re riding in a car, but up to 3 people can ride with the driver.
I haven’t had the pleasure of taking the ride but Dia, the Travel Hack TravelingMom did and she said it was “surreal.” You can read more about her experience here. I admit that I was one of those paparazzi stalkers but it’s pretty cool to see the boat just roll on to the driveway from the water.
I only have sons but I feel like another must splurge experience is The Castle Package at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (BBB) is a salon owned by the Fairy Godmother and operated by Fairy Godmothers in Training where they make over your daughter to look like royalty. The Castle Package includes a hair styling, make-up, nail polish, wand, crown and Disney Princess gown of your choice for $199.95. I feel like if there is anywhere in the world where you should be transformed into a Princess, it’s at Disney! I’m seriously considering borrowing my niece just so I can have someone to do it with at least once. Since I don’t have the daughter, I have to rely on my friends to tell me about it and Jennifer, Last Minute TravelingMom provided a few insider tips based on her own experience.
TravelingMom Tip: The Disney Springs location of the BBB is larger than the one in Magic Kingdom and said it to be less crowded. After the transformation at Disney Springs, the princesses have their own parade through Disney Springs because the other princesses are busy at the parks. They’re even given princess training before their walk on how to wave, smile and represent princesses all over the world.
A splurge that the whole family can enjoy is the Cirque du Soleil performance of La Nouba. Similarly to other Cirque de Soleil shows, La Nouba is a combination of acrobatics and music that will delight all families. La Nouba is one of the stationary shows and has been at Disney Springs for 18 years but it is never the same show because acts are being adjusted constantly.
Fashions worth a Disney Springs Splurge
Finally, you have to splurge on the fashion at Disney Springs. If you are a fan of Disney, what better way to show your DisneyLove when you go home by splurging on these exclusive Disney fashion items only available at Disney properties?
I show my DisneyLove everyday with my Alex and Ani bracelets. The Disney Parks Collection by Alex and Ani has collections that fit if you’re a fan of princesses, Star Wars, the cruise ships, the parks or anything Disney; there is a bracelet that more than likely expresses your love of Disney. But many of these are exclusives only available in the stores, so you’ll have to go check them out for yourself!
Vera Bradley will also let you share your DisneyLove with the elusive hidden (or not so hidden – your choice) Mickeys in their items. There are more than 15 different patterns and designs to choose from including basic black to multicolor and backpacks to weekenders. Busy moms need bags that fit your life and I have to admit that I’ve picked up more than just one over the years so I know they’re worth the splurge. But again these are exclusives in the store, so you have to visit to find the right one for you.
I fell in love with these Kate Spade Minnie items in person at Kate Spade store at Disney Springs. They are available on the website but that doesn’t do them any justice. Once you actually see the details inside of the clutch and how soft the sweater is, you’ll more than make the splurge. Make sure to make the Kate Spade as part of your visit to Disney Springs.
This list is only my opinion but I’d love to learn more about your Disney Springs splurges and just your favorites from Disney Springs. Please share them with me; I love learning more based upon other people’s experiences.