Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
“Fall has always been my favorite season,” wrote Lauren DeStefano in Wither. “The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
I had experienced autumn – also called fall – in the United States three times already. This year, I had the opportunity of going through the same season. Right after my one-week stay in New York (where I stayed with my friend, Atty. Nicolas Caraquel), I immediately flew to Florida, where my brother-in-law, David Eplite, picked me up at Daytona Beach Airport.
As both my sister, Marilou, and Dave were busy with their respective jobs, I had to do my own thing. It was good that a friend my sister, Joseph Uy (who was originally from Bais City, Negros Oriental), invited me to go with him in some his trips.
At one time, we went together to Disney Springs. I had been to the place five years ago and there were several new things to explore. And it’s even more colorful than ever since it’s fall season.
Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, near Orlando. First opened in 1975 as Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village, it has been expanded and rebranded over the years as Walt Disney World Village in 1977, Disney Village Marketplace in 1989, and Downtown Disney in 1997, becoming Disney Springs in 2015.
The good thing about Disney Springs is that there is no entrance fee. Unlike the four Disney theme parks and two waterparks, admission into Disney Springs is complimentary. No tickets or reservations necessary. Self-parking is also complimentary in all surface lots and garages.
People who come to Disney World Resort often miss this place. They don’t include this in their itineraries. As such, they fail to enjoy everything this area has to offer. In fact, you can absolutely spend an entire day here.
Disney Springs is divided into four areas: Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center, and West Side. The complex is bordered by Lake Buena Vista to the north and the parking garages and surface lots to the south. Walt Disney Imagineering took inspiration for Disney Springs from real coastal towns found throughout Florida, such as St. Augustine and Coral Gables.
Creative director Dave Hoffman said about the area: “Each neighborhood reflects its function and (the fictional) time period when it was developed.”
According to the town’s fictional history, Disney Springs was settled in the mid-1800s by a cattle rancher who discovered the town’s namesake springs and the town subsequently expanded from the springs outwards.
“A truly amazing place featuring an eclectic mix of unique boutiques, one-of-a-kind eateries and jaw-dropping entertainment that will have you wondering where the day went.” This is how Disney Springs is described.
For one, you can shop till you drop. Disney Springs offers one of the best shopping experiences – from well-known brands to Disney-centric boutiques. With around 100 shops, it has it all.
To name a few: Lacoste, Kate Spade New York, Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Levi’s, Lilly Pulitzer, lululemon, Stance, Tommy Bahama, Uniqlo, Volcom, Zara, Fit2Run, Johnny Was, Pele Soccer, Coca-Cola Store, Havaianas, and Columbia Sportswear.
Don’t miss World of Disney, an attraction by itself. Inspiring touches are on display inside the store, including mystical movie posters, enchanted art and animation ink jars that spring to life with a trail of pixie dust.
Stroll through the Disney Springs Art Walk, an outdoor gallery at Town Center to view vibrant displays featuring both local and international artists who create murals bursting with color, emotion and the spirit of their cultures.
Disney Springs may not have some caliber rides as the theme parks but children can enjoy a ride on the Marketplace Carousel and Marketplace Train Express rides.
Enjoy an upscale spin on a classic American pastime at Splitsville Luxury Lanes where you can enjoy bowling, billiards, and lively bars alongside an eclectic, contemporary menu.
Soar up to 400 feet high in the world’s largest hand-painted helium balloon with Aerophile – The World Leader in Balloon Flight.
Not too many guests know this, but you can avail yourself of its boat rides for free. These leisurely free rides offer a great way to see the sights and get from one end to Disney Springs to the other. The boats run every 10-15 minutes. Just hop on board and enjoy the scenery.
For a more exciting boat ride, check out the Mark Twain Riverboat. This large boat will take you down the iconic Rivers of America. You’ll get to see Walt Disney World’s sights, including Frontierland, Liberty Square and more.
Looking for something to eat, don’t worry. Whether you’re craving world-class cuisine or a light lunch, Disney Springs offers some of the best foods around. Guests can find a wide selection of dining establishments, with something for everyone, from kid-friendly to upscale.
Several restaurants have waterfront views and many offer live music. To name some of them: B.B. Wolf’s Sausage Co., Earl of Sandwich, Rainforest Café, Swirls on the Water, T-Rex Café, Wetzel’s Pretzels, House of Blues Restaurant and Bar, Jaleo by Chef Jose Andres, Planet Hollywood Observatory, The Boathouse, Chicken Guy, and Morimoto Asia.
If you are in a budget, know this: guests are allowed to bring outside food and non-alcoholic drinks into the park for self-consumption, provided they are not in glass containers and do not require heating, reheating, processing, refrigeration or temperature control and do not have pungent odors.
Since Disney Springs is full of shops and restaurants to enjoy, you need to walk. If you start at one end and walk to the other, you’ll have walked 1.83 miles (about 2.9451 kilometers). After a day’s walk, you get tired!
Since there’s a lot of walking at Disney Springs, it’s wise necessary that you stay hydrated. You can bring a bottle of water and non-alcoholic drinks – as long as they are not in glass containers. But you can always buy bottled water at $3.75 each.
You can also ask for a free cup of water at any quick-service and table-service restaurant. For all quick-service restaurants, all you have to do is ask for a cup of water – even when you’re not dining there.
Now, you know why I like Disney Springs! – ###