Disney Springs has Sprung!

The new look Disney Springs


Disney Springs, Orlando

Previously known as Down town Disney, Orlando.

Over the last couple of years we have seen huge developments around one of our favourite places to hang out – Disney Springs, Orlando.

The Walt Disney World resort offers plenty to do with the family with a pinch of Disney fairy dust, just so you don’t forget where you are!  With over 180 waterside places to eat, shopping and entertainment you can easily fill a day here or spend just a few hours to get your retail fix on your days off away from the parks, not forgetting the all year long Christmas store in the Marketplace.

From fine dining to prehistoric entertainment in the T-Rex dinosaur-themed café, face painting for the kids (any age!) or a dockside margarita there is really is something for everyone!


T-Rex Cafe at Disney Springs

There is a huge amount of new parking facilities or simply catch one of the Walt Disney World complimentary buses or boats.

If you have a free day in your Orlando holiday, this really is a great place to visit if you are looking for an exciting and busy atmosphere. We’d highly recommend booking a table before hand if you are limited to time or be aware it can get busy and you may have to wait for something to eat – more so if you wanting to eat at a particular place but you can check in and be sent away with a time slot or buzzer when your table is ready. There are plenty of places to pick up snacks, coffees and ice cream as you go… Did i mention the margaritas ;0)

If not a great day with the weather or you fancy staying out into the night, you could watch a movie and have a bite to eat at the same time in the 24 dine-in theatres. A great way to entertain the teens in your group, along with the new NBA Experience that has just replaced the DisneyQuest with hands-on activities and interactive experiences.

Like most things in America, Disney Springs is on the large scale so don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve seen it all! There are pathways and bridges between the 3 areas and you can even catch a ferry across the lake from one end to the other.

  • The Marketplace is the main shopping area with stores like World of Disney and The LEGO Store.
  • What was previously known as Pleasure Island is now where restaurants and shops largely operate, and is located in the middle. Have you got space in your suitcases for all your shopping! www.disneysprings.com/shops
  • The West Side is on the far side of Disney Springs, and is where more of the third party entertainment, shopping, and dining options are at.

We have been here many times when our little boy was too young to appreciate the parks but we all felt like we had a fix of Disney!

So who is off to Disney Spring this year? Check it out… www.disneysprings.com



No escape from Disney!


Disney Springs opening 2015 & 2016

Disney Springs opening finishes in Spring 2016

Disney Springs opening 2015

The BOATHOUSE at Disney Springs opening in 2015

Walt Disney World announced Disney Springs in March 2014 – a thorough renovation of Downtown Disney that is opening across 2015 and 2016 in phases.

Due to complete in Spring 2016, the final results will be more shopping, bigger and better dining and entertainment, and a fantastic open air experience with promenades, springs and waterfront features.  The theme of Disney Springs will focus on four areas, the Town Center, Landing, Marketplace, and West Side.

Disney Springs will see the following features now confirmed from our previous post:

  • An expansion of shops and dining from 75 to 150 locations
  • Town Center mix of dining and shopping with relaxing spaces for all the family
  • Landing dining experiences accompanied with waterfront views
  • Marketplace commercial area, with shops such as the CO-OP
  • West Side entertainment for all ages
  • Confirmed places to eat are STK Orlando, Morimoto Asia and THE BOATHOUSE
  • The Landing has already opened Apex by Sunglass Hut and Chapel Hats on January 30th 2015
  • Other confirmed retailers are Art of Shaving (grooming), Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, Havaianas (create your own), Sanuk footwear, and Sound Lion music products

More here: source.  And connecting it all up here.

There’s already a lot of changes present, including a complicated mix of parking that will eventually result in a huge multi-storey car park.  So if you are planning to visit Downtown Disney or Disney Springs opening make sure you leave a little extra time in your schedule.

Disney Springs Parking

Parking at Disney Springs

We already recommend that every Orlando family holiday has a day at Downtown Disney, so this will be just another reason to make it happen, even if all you want is a Mickey Mouse Christmas bauble!


2014 Orlando Attractions

New Orlando Attractions in 2014

Theme Parks

If you need something to look forward to in 2014, how about checking these new thrills and attractions out?  The are loads of exciting events coming – here are our top picks in the 2014 Orlando Attractions line-up.

Busch Gardens – Falcon’s Fury, climb nearly 300 feet, then pivot 90 degrees in mid-air to a daring dive position, eyes fixed on the ground far below. Plunge at 60mph straight down to where you started – a ride like you’ve never experienced before.

Duplo Valley at Legoland Florida. Visit the newest and most splashtastic place to play and explore for the littlest tots in your party.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort, the new land will boast a Hogwarts Express train to carry you from the existing Hogsmeade land to the new Diagon Alley.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

No official date yet, but the final phase of New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World with the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is one to look out for.

Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica. The drop slide will be the tallest, steepest and only multi-slide ride of its kind in Orlando.

I-Drive Indoor Kart Racing, Vanguard Street, Orlando. state-of-the-art, eco-friendly electric karts for the whole family to enjoy.

Downtown Orlando

For those taking a trip out to Orlando, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando is a great place to visit.  They are giving the community a “sneak peek” at the much-anticipated 2014-15 inaugural Broadway Season, by announcing the Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical smash, Newsies, as part of their lineup.

Places to stay

More 2014 Orlando Attractions are the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Four Seasons Resort Orlando – 444 guest rooms, a golf course, full-service spa, three restaurants and an elaborate pool area

Cabana Bay Beach Resort – 1800 rooms – the largest on-site hotel inspired by retro resorts of the 1950s and ’60s.


Orlando Christmas Guide 2013

Christmas is coming to Florida

As Christmas draws nearer (it’s only 8 weeks away) we thought we’d take a break from work and focus on our Orlando Christmas Guide for Orlando, Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld.  It starts at the end of November in the theme parks so you can have a great time celebrating the festive spirit during your vacation.  Nowhere celebrates Christmas as well as the big names in Florida, you just have to get used to the warm temperature and blazing sunshine!

Here is our favourite selection of Christmas events to look out for as Christmas takes over the theme parks for a crazy month of fun.

Disney Days of Christmas

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Christmas Holiday

The Magic Kingdom will be celebrating Christmas in style with these unmissable events!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – select nights from 7:00 PM to midnight, November 8 to December 20, 2013

  • Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle – festive lights and Disney tunes.
  • Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade – Gingerbread men, elves and others dance down Main Street
  • Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season – Brilliant lights explode in the air above Cinderella’s Castle
  • Totally Tomorrowland Christmas – Buzz Lightyear, Mike Wazowski and Stitch
  • Celebrate the Season Show – Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and others get into the holiday spirit
  • Meet-and-greet opportunities throughout Magic Kingdom park with some of your favourite Disney Characters
  • Complimentary cookies and hot cocoa
  • A magical snowfall on Main Street, U.S.A.


Downtown Disney’s Festival of the Seasons – Holiday carollers, holiday songs, street performer from November 15 – December 29, 2013

Holidays Around the World at Epcot – Epcot celebrate Christmas around the world from November 29 – December 30, 2013

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade – Animal Kingdom’s festive celebration from November 9, 2013 to January 2, 2014

As well as all these events, each of the Disney Hotels puts on special displays and decorations, as demonstrated by our son in the picture below!

Gingerbread House at the Floridian

Gingerbread House at the Floridian, with little Rowan

SeaWorld Christmas Events

Continuing our Orlando Christmas Guide, SeaWorld always put on a fantastic Christmas display and shows.  They offer some variety to the normal shows and the shops and decorations are fantastic.  This is well worth a visit and the park opens late during the Christmas season.

seaworld sea of trees

SeaWorld sea of trees

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration – 11/23/2013 – 12/31/2013

  • Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas – this is a must see!
  • Elmo’s Christmas Wish – Sesame Street friends have come to SeaWorld Orlando!
  • O Wondrous Night – over 30 carols, live-size puppets and live animals
  • Sea Of Trees – over 100 trees light up to music, as in the picture above
  • Shamu Christmas Miracles – Shamu shows off to a Christmas theme
  • Winter Wonderland on Ice – ice skating extravaganza
  • Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountain Finale – fountains, dazzling lights, and fireworks
  • THE POLAR EXPRESS Experience – where you’ll meet Santa Claus himself.
  • Shamu’s Happy Harbor – Experience the Holly Jolly Railway


New Year’s Eve at SeaWorld – 12/31/2013 – 01/01/2014

SeaWorld Holiday Reflections

SeaWorld Holiday Reflections

Santa’s Fireside feast.  Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at SeaWorld’s Santa’s Fireside Feast, an exclusive dinner featuring an all-you-care-to-eat menu of holiday favourites and delicious desserts.

Universal Orlando Christmas Events

Universal Studios Florida

  • Macy’s Holiday Parade – marching bands, clowns, and an appearance by Santa Claus from December 7, 2013 – January 4, 2014
  • Mannheim Steamroller – select Saturday and Sunday nights in December – December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22


Universal’s Islands of Adventure

  • Grinchmas – Seuss Landing s transformed into a wintry wonderland from December 7, 2013 – January 4, 2014


Universal CityWalk

  • Orlando’s Premier New Year’s Eve Party – a party that doesn’t stop until next year. Bid a fond farewell to 2013.  Live entertainment.  Midnight champagne, and more!


As well as the theme park events it’s also worth visiting Celebration Town who usually put on a snowstorm every night leading up to Christmas.

We hope our Orlando Christmas guide gives you lots of inspiration when visiting Florida this Christmas, make sure to plan in to your schedule all the fantastic events so you don’t miss out.


Disney – not just theme parks

New technology from Disney Research

Disney is not just about Mickey Mouse and Goofy in its world renowned theme parks.  It’s actually a massive corporation with an enormous research & development budget.  Whilst scouring the news for Disney related gossip, I came across these new technologies from Disney Research.

disney mechanics

disney mechanics

Print your own mechanical toys

By far the most impressive of these videos, Disney has created a way to simplify the creation of mechanical toys without any knowledge of mechanics.  This leads the way to 3D-printing of the toys, and the associated gears and mechanisms that drive the toy’s motion.  Astounding!

Paper Generators – harvesting energy from touch, rubbing and sliding

Electricity produced by rubbing surfaces together is used to light LEDs and electronic ink.  The little people will love this.

Tactile Rendering of 3D Features on Touch Surfaces

Another impressive technology is the ability to simulate ridged and textured surfaces that are actually smooth.  This uses vibrations to simulate the friction of textured surfaces.

PAPILLON: Designing Curved Display Surfaces with Printed Optics

Here’s a way of projecting an image onto a curved surface, but also as a touchscreen display.