By Peter Covino
Shop. Eat. Shop some more.
Downtown Disney/Disney Springs has always been one of the great Disney locations, mostly because you could park, walk, window shop, listen to live entertainment, and never spend a dime, if you don’t want to.
The Disney shopping/dining complex has been growing at a steady pace in recent months, especially since the renaming of the giant place to Disney Springs and the opening of many new shops and restaurants.
And the growth just keeps on coming.
It is a pretty amazing walk-though if you have not been to the former Downtown Disney lately.And it is quite a long walk-through at that if you start at Cirque du Soleil and continue right on through to the what used to be called the Disney Marketplace.
There is still construction on the busy road outside, but parking in that big garage (still free) has gotten easier. And you can still find surface parking near and behind Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, if you prefer.
There are even new shops to explore in the walk from Cirque to the AMC theaters, but most of the newest action is happening across the bridgeway entrance.
Just a few of the new, fun spots explored during an afternoon:
Chapel Hats — You just might find the hat of your dreams in this shop that lets you take selfie snapshots as you look for that perfect hat. The shop has it all, from classic fedoras and cowboy hats.
Marketplace Co-op — This complex of distinct shops has been around for awhile and it changes out stores on a regular basis. The newest one is a lot of fun, the Disney TAG store. It looks like the inside of an airport, and sells pretty much everything you need for that next trip. The clever decor has luggage for sale on a luggage carousel, just like an airport and even the check-out area looks like a ticket counter.
The Art of Shaving — Another recent edition, it features high-end grooming essentials for guys.
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar — This is probably becoming a favorite Disney bar, with a nice assortment of unusual drinks and some unusual appetizers to match. Modeled after a hangar from the Indiana Jones series of films, inside is cozy with lots of look at. Outside, there is a nice waterfront view.
The Ganachery — This is Disney’s own new chocolate boutique. The chocolate is made right on site and you can watch the process as well. More than a dozen unusual flavors to choose form including Egyptian Sea Salt, Raspberry, Mango Curry, Calamansi and more.
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC — Lots of vegan, gluten-free treats, with cupcakes a particular specialty.
That was about all I could cover an part of an afternoon, and with many more shops and expansion still coming, a visit to Disney Springs is going to be an an all-day experience. The renamed Disney Springs now includes five distinct districts:
The Landing (formerly Pleasure Island)
Still to come is an all-new Planet Hollywood.
Coming later in May, is the fourth section of Disney Springs, the Neighborhood, a 60 shop restaurant and shopping area. It all won’t be ready by May, but some of the “things” coming include Mexican restaurant Tablas Frontera, cupcake shop Sprinkles, DLuxe Burger, Under Armour and Sephora.
When the entire shopping complex is complete, Disney Springs will have about 150 shops and restaurants. That is about double of that of Downtown Disney. Also coming soon is a second parking lot. Other planned changes include new bridges connecting the area to Disney’s Saratoga Springs resort, with further bridges connecting The Landing to the Marketplace, The Springs, Town Center and West Side.
Disney also just recently announced another big change coming to Disney Springs: the closing of the iconic Fulton’s Crab House (once called the Empress Lily) seafood restaurant. The restaurant will be completely revamped and reopen as Paddlefish.
The restaurant will have a revamped menu as well as new look.
It is scheduled to open in the fall of this year.