The changes to re-brand Downtown Disney into Disney Springs began in April of 2013. As Disney Springs is still under construction going on 3 years now, and construction is stated as continuing through 2016, this area of Disney has been an absolute nightmare. For a regular like myself who used to enjoyed going to Downtown Disney to eat or to shop, the major pains started when they closed down the back parking lots and walk-ways. Parking, construction, and huge crowds have exacerbated the growing pains of what is to finally become Disney Springs.
This concept art is majorly flawed in that it doesn’t represent the reality of what it’s like to be in Disney Springs. The amount of people on any given day is much higher than you could ever want to deal with. The weekends are even worse, and holidays – forget about it. Obviously, they are picturing the idealized view of what they imagine or at least what they want the public to imagine what Disney Springs is supposed to be.
Limited parking is a huge turn-off. There are daily traffic jams from Bonnet Creek Parkway through Hotel Plaza Blvd, a distance of not more than 3 miles, that it takes up to an hour to move through one way. The parking garage that was supposed to be such a blessing has become a total nightmare, when it fills up – the traffic comes to a virtual halt. The only viable parking option has become the furthest lot – to the rear of La Nouba Theater, which leaves us in the predicament of having to walk a very long way, or wait for boat transportation.
Although there are new restaurants and shops, I feel like there is really nothing of value TO ME being offered right now, and sadly I don’t think that is going to change. I liked the Co-Op Marketplace, but it’s so hard to get in and out of Disney Springs when will I ever get the chance to shop there? We tried the Boathouse and it was a huge disappointment, we were seated 45 minutes after our reservation time, and our dinner took nearly an hour and a half – not due to our fault, their service was extremely slow. The food was ok at best and I’m being too polite about that, it was like a C letter grade, but they charge ridiculously high prices (F for value and I’m used to Disney prices!); I can seriously get a better and more satisfying meal at Chili’s for about half as much money, and that’s what we’ve done in the last two years, rather than eating at Disney Springs, we’ve eaten off Disney property while outside the parks.
I just have this feeling like this whole Disney Springs conversion is just hype with no real substance, after trying the Boathouse I’m really wary. I am interested in trying Morimoto Asia because I love Japanese food, and the Jock Lindsay’s bar might be okay, but I haven’t been yet. All these other annoyances are keeping me from going. So this week they announced they are putting in a Sprinkles bakery cupcake machine – whoop dee doo. Like it’s worth two hours of hassle to schlep down there for that? Or for some overpriced grub or drinks?
Disney Springs also announced 30 more shops, like Sephora, Kate Spade, Lacoste, Oakley, and others – basically what you’d find in most high end malls. Which makes me ask, why? Why do we need or want luxury mall shops? I’m sure it’s because only the luxury stores will ever be able to afford the rent. Do people even buy stuff from those stores? Who drops $250 on a pair of sunglasses? (They put a Sunglass Hut inside Adventureland! Grr. And you know what – I’ve never seen anyone buy anything there.) Oh, and they have a shop dedicated to beards. We are in official hipster territory here.
I may be in the minority here, but everything about Disney Springs just screams -” pain in my a**”. It rubs me the wrong way like nails on a chalkboard. It was already annoying to have to wait thirty minutes to an hour to get an ice cream sundae from Ghirardelli before and there are never any tables available, now it seems like you have to fight past thousands of people do even get down to that side.
From an economic and re-vitalization standpoint it may be a triumph to Disney, it may be something they really wanted to achieve to compete with City Walk, so if that was their goal then I guess that is what they have done – because I HATE City Walk too. I have never liked feeling like a sardine, and I have tolerated it at the theme parks because that is just how it is, but in the theme parks it never felt like the outside world was crushing me, because the theme parks are isolated a bit from the “real world” and despite the crowdedness of the theme parks, you can usually find a quiet place to sit for a while.
At the end of the day, Disney Springs is still basically the same size that it ever was despite the addition of new restaurants and stores! It occupies the same basic footprint that it did, the land surrounding it is already developed, it is surrounded by water, roads, and parking lots. There were several large buildings that were left unused after the closure of Pleasure Island and those have already or will be converted into stores. With the exception of some new walkways, everything is basically on the same chunk of land. The biggest trick they ever played is that they are just cramming more people into a small space. Vertical parking – the parking garages are how they are managing to do this. People will just continue to flock in droves.
In the meantime, my priority should be to use my annual pass as much as possible and steer clear of Disney Springs, at least until they sort the traffic and parking situation.
I’m very curious about how other people feel about Disney Springs, please leave any questions or comments below. Thanks for reading.