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!


Orlando budget vacation – our itinerary

Our family holiday in the winter sun

We visit Florida every year to look after our private villa, so we often want to have an Orlando budget vacation and just enjoy the winter sun without too much stress or theme park expense.  In this post I will go through our basic itinerary so you can get some ideas for your own Florida holiday.

Step 1: Book our villa – we’re not joking!


Orlando budget vacation: Fantastic morning view from your villa in the Florida winter sun

Clearly we are biased, but it’s impossible to do Orlando on a budget without having your own family base.  Renting a villa saves a huge amount of money when all types expenses are considered.  You can stay in (or pop to the community tennis courts), enjoy the pool, sunbathe, cook your own meals (when you feel like it), entertain yourself in the games room, or just laze your day away reading a book.

All of this with the same sort of costs as being at home.  Just add food and drink to your private villa’s refrigerator and cupboards!


Relaxing underwater in our heated pool and spa

In the evenings once the little ones are asleep you can turn on the spa and crack open a domestic beer or chilled wine – as long as you’ve remembered to pop in to Publix or Walmart and stock up on essentials.  If you’re all watered-out then how about winding down with your family and friends inside with a mini-party and checking out what’s on the HD Cable for a few hours?


Say cheese – the Burton family enjoying their pool in Tuscan Ridge

We’ve had a few guest book comments telling us that their children learnt to swim in our pool.  Kids don’t seem to be able to get enough of the water and sometimes they don’t want to be at a theme park all day when they can be messing around in their own pool.  Send a pool selfie back to your friends at home to make them jealous.  Why not?

Staying in and enjoying our private villa in Tuscan Ridge: total of 4 days for free.

Step 2: Restaurants and Disney hotels are a theme park in themselves

Everything in Orlando’s Disney World is completely overwhelming and finished to an incredibly high standard for holidaymakers.  Their hotels and restaurants are a perfect example of this.

Pop down to Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) to sample the T-Rex and Rainforest cafe menus. You don’t have to buy the biggest steak on the menu – the three of us were full up on a kid’s meal and sampler menu. There are also some little rides to sample and lots of entertainment in the form of Disney characters. You can also catch the ferry over to the Boardwalk from the top end of Downtown Disney.


Enjoying the T-Rex cafe surroundings


Outside the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney

With a full stomach it’s time to whizz off to some of the better Disney hotels to enjoy the surroundings and extreme scale.  We recommend the Art of Animation (full of the Cars cast including Lightning McQueen) and Animal Kingdom Lodge, complete with it’s own safari viewing area.

Enjoying Disney hotels and restaurants: total of 2 days for less than $150 worth of food between three of us.



Lightning McQueen at Art of Animation


Outside the Yacht club hotel in Disney

Step 3: Enjoy the theme parks and attractions that are better value

You don’t have to blow the budget on the Disney and Universal theme parks all the time.  There are plenty of areas to enjoy that aren’t $100 a pop.  Try Gatorland for a unique view of Florida’s alligators, or the Florida state parks for an adventurous day out in the wild.

One of he biggest Aligators in Gatorland Florida

One of the biggest Aligators in Gatorland Florida


Riding a Gator at Gatorland – great parenting!

Enjoying Gatorland and other lower priced parks: total of 2 days and less than $100 for a family of three

Step 4: Take advantage of Seaworld’s return visit offers

Personally our family enjoy Seaworld, despite the ongoing controversy surrounding the park.  They have a wonderful Christmas theme in December and if you take advantage of their return visit for $10 a person you can spread out the park over a couple of visits. There is easily enough to do in Seaworld to last two full days.


Shamu’s Christmas show


Dolphins at Seaworld


Our boy Rowan meeting Shamu at the Christmas themed days

Seaworld: total of 2 days and $150 for the three of us

Step 5: Hire or rent the biggest car you can (maybe not an Orlando budget vacation)!

OK, maybe this is contrary to the idea of an Orlando budget vacation, but sometimes you can get a lot of fun out of having the biggest and best car you can get from your car hire company – and just enjoying the driving out in Florida. Sometimes you can drive a bargain at the Airport, so hold out and negotiate for a Cadillac Escalade next time!


Cadillac Escalade in front of Dave’s Florida Villa

Orlando budget vacation - car hire

Car rental – Little and Large

Step 6: Get out and about around the Four Corners area

Shopping at malls (it’s easy to get carried away with the shopping in Florida – we prefer the Mall At Millenia), enjoying the picturesque Celebration, travelling out to see the classic American cars at Old Town, Historic Kissimmee, or even further afield at Florida’s gorgeous beaches, it’s all completely free apart from the cost of the fuel to get there.

Celebration, Kissimmee, Malls, Old Town: total of 4 days and less than $40 for the bike hire and fairground rides!



Old Town Cruise night


Splish splash in the public fountains at Celebration


Enjoying a 2 seater bicycle in Celebration

We hope this has given you inspiration for your next holiday to Florida – just make sure you contact us first to book our Florida Villa.

Disney Springs renovation of Downtown Disney

Transformation of Downtown Disney already begun

Disney Springs

Downtown Disney morphs into Disney Springs

Disney are well into the work that brings about the transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, an exciting development that guarantees to bring added fun and excitement to anybody’s vacation in Florida.

Disney Springs official blog entry here

Downtown Disney has been in existence for more than 30 years, so it’s probably about time for a revamp.  The Walt Disney Resort promises more than 150 shops, dining and various entertainment venues.  We can’t wait!

Aside from the end result and how it will improve and attract new visitors, the work will help boost Florida’s economy with over 1200 new construction jobs and 4000 roles in total.

Disney Springs – what is it?

The new site for Disney Springs will contain four main areas:

  • The Town Centre promenade for shopping and relaxing
  • The Landing commercial district on the waterfront
  • The Marketplace is a family-friendly area for all ages
  • The West Side for loads of entertainment venues

All in all, due to complete in 2016.