Disney Springs is overlooked by many visiting Disney World. That’s a shame, as it’s chock-full of engaging places to eat and shop. Disney Springs should not be an afterthought: entire days and nights of fun can be had among its 120 acres. Let Travel Hack Traveling Mom Dia Adams show you her favorite Disney Springs restaurant and shopping hacks to save time and money.
Traveling Moms live and breathe Disney – and one thing we agree on is the need for time off from the parks on a trip to the mouse house. Disney Springs – formerly Downtown Disney – is a logical choice, but the park brochure really undersells the place.
At first glance I wondered why exactly I would want to spend my precious vacation time at a glorified shopping mall. To be sure, some of the stores (I’m looking at you, Sephora!) are in every mall, well, everywhere. To get the best of Disney Springs you need to peel the onion a bit – or just have a Traveling Mom to show you the way to eat and shop like a pro.
Disney Springs Restaurant Hacks
Two of my favorite Disney Springs restaurants have loyalty programs that can save you big bucks:
Landry’s Select is a secret Disney World dining discount program I use on every trip to Disney World. Landry’s is at heart a restaurant company, owning Morton’s, McCormick and Shmick’s, and Bubba Gump, among others. However, the company also owns Rainforest Café, T-Rex Cafe, and Yak and Yeti…including the locations inside Disney World. T-Rex and Rainforest are both in Disney Springs, while Yak and Yeti and another Rainforest Cafe are at Animal Kingdom.
Here’s how it works: Pay $25 up front and get an $25 credit at one of the restaurants (so it’s basically free) and a $25 credit on every $250 you spend, even on gift cards (no-double dip, unfortunately). TravelingMom Tip: Sign up in advance because the first certificate takes up to 48 hours to arrive.
Even better, Landry’s Select is more than a no-brainer. It’s a profit maker! First, you get a $25 credit on your birthday for doing absolutely nothing more than being born. You can use the credit during your birthday month at any Landry’s location. Then you also get a 10% discount on retail at the company’s shops. Finally, you get fast-track service if you don’t have a reservation. Less wait time could be a real lifesaver.
Sure, saving money is great, but how’s the food? It’s actually good! The Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex menus are almost identical and portions are HUGE. If I had to choose one, I’d recommend T-Rex. My kids (8 and 11) were more engaged with the theme. It’s also more “boy” friendly than Rainforest (not that Rainforest screams “girl;” it’s just more flower-y). However, If my kids were under 4 or noise/light sensitive, I’d probably stick to Rainforest Cafe.
Earl of Sandwich Rewards gives you $5 just for signing up (arrives 7 days after sign-up) and $5 off for every 50 points earned. Coupons arrive regularly, too! TravelingMom Tip: Earl of Sandwich gets busy, but lines move quickly so don’t let the crowds scare you. To minimize wait times, dine before 11:30 a.m. or around 4 p.m.. You can even order online in advance for in-store pick up.
My favorite item is the Earl of Montagu sandwich featuring Roast Beef, Turkey, Swiss, Cheddar, Lettuce, Tomato & Mustard but at $7 bucks a sandwich you’re not gonna go wrong anywhere on the menu. I just learned that Earl of Sandwich serves breakfast as early as 9 a.m. which could be a total no-brainer if you’re staying in Disney Springs.
Disney Springs Shopping Hacks
As I mentioned, those who have access to high end retail will recognize many of Disney Springs’ offerings, with one notable exception: Uniqlo. Uniqlo is a Japanese chain similar to H&M and while you may recognize the name, the merchandise is uniquely Disney. I saw over 200 separate styles available no where else but in this location and their online store. Taking a gander at their online store, I’ve gotta tell you that I saw many designs at the store that aren’t on the site.
We’re not talking your average T-shirts here: Uniqlo holds online graphic design competitions and picks the winning designs to feature on their shirts. Themes change regularly. My last visit, they were heavy on Pixar including characters from UP (when was the last time you saw an UP T shirt?). The Star Wars tees were among the most original I’ve seen, and you know there’s a ton of Star Wars stuff out there.
Best of all, T shirts averaged $15 for adults and $10 for kids, Try to find that at World of Disney or in the parks! Uniqlo is simply a must visit for any Disney fan and is enough to make scheduling time for Disney Springs into your trip worth it. Thank me later.
Do you have a favorite Disney Springs Hack? Please share in the comments.
Traveling Mom recommends Parksavers for discount Disney World tickets. Even better, use code TM2 for an extra $2 off each ticket, just for Traveling Mom readers!
This post was written in partnership with the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista. As the closest hotels to Disney Springs, the Wyndham and Wyndham Garden are Traveling Mom tested and recommended jumping off points for your Disney Springs adventure.