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Credit: Brittany DiCologero / Disney Fanatic

8 Things You Won’t Want to Miss at Disney Springs

Visiting Disney Springs can be a great way to spend a day at the Walt Disney World Resort without using a theme park ticket. And there is more to see and do at Walt Disney World‘s shopping, dining, and entertainment complex than meets the eye at this revamped version of Downtown Disney. So what exactly should you do while you’re here? We have some ideas!

Shop at World of Disney

Credit: Disney

The biggest stop for many Disney fans heading over to Disney Springs will for sure be the World of Disney store. As one of the largest Disney Stores in the world, this shop is home to the widest variety of Disney gifts and souvenirs at Walt Disney World so you can get a lot of your shopping done all in one place. The shop features apparel and accessories for adults and children, toys, pins, plush, homewares, jewelry, and so much more!

While this store should be at the top of every Disney fan’s list, other non-Disney branded shops have lots of items you might love, too. The Lego Store for instance has collections exclusive to Disney Springs, and Uniqlo is a great place to find Disney tees for less than at official Disney stores.

Take a boat ride

Credit: Disney

There are a couple of ways to take a boat ride around Disney Springs, and both offer lots of fun! The first is to head over to the Boathouse and take an Amphicar tour. These unique amphibious autos are perhaps the coolest way to see Disney Springs on the water, but they do come at an added cost.

For a more budget-friendly alternative, hop aboard the boat to Disney’s Port Orleans Resorts. This scenic boat ride down the Sassagoula River is a great way to relax on the water while visiting Disney Springs. The boat ride is free, but it’s lengthier than an Amphicar tour so just something to keep in mind if you need to make a dinner reservation.

See some live music

Credit: Disney

Multiple locations around Disney Springs offer live music and performances on a regular basis. Whether you see a local or visiting dance group on the waterfront stage, or head to a restaurant to experience some live music, you can definitely kick back with some entertainment after a long day in the theme parks. In the evenings, Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs hosts live music and Irish step dancing. Splitsville’s patio bar is another great spot to sit and catch some tunes when the weather is nice, and speaking of Splitsville…

Bowl or dine at Splitsville

Splitsville Luxury Lanes offer some of the best bowling experiences anywhere. It’s a fun activity if you are looking for something to do with the whole family outside of a Disney Park. It is no Magic Kingdom, but for a day without a park ticket, you’ll find top-notch bowling facilities, and a really great menu. With everything from burgers to sushi, you’re sure to find something on the menu to please the whole family.

Grab tickets for Cirque du Soleil: Drawn to Life

Drawn to Life

Credit: Cirque du Soleil/Disney

Cirque du Soleil’s Drawn to Life is the only Cirque du Soleil production that takes its inspiration and storyline directly from the legacy of Walt Disney Animation. The show only debuted last year, so if it has been some time since your last trip to Disney Springs, you may not have had a chance to see it yet, but it is definitely worth the trip!

Experience Characters in Flight

Hot air balloon

Want to see Disney Springs from above? Head over to Characters in Flight! This unique hot air-style balloon by Aerophile Balloon was custom built for Walt Disney World. Board the balloon and you will be sent 400 ft. up in the air thanks to 210,000 cubic feet of Helium. Once at the top, you will experience breathtaking views not only of Disney Springs but of distances up to 20 miles away around the Walt Disney World Resort.

Have lunch or dinner

No trip to Disney Springs is complete without stopping for lunch or dinner, but narrowing down where you’d like to eat could be quite the challenge! You could opt for something quick like one of the area’s food trucks, or go for waterfront dining at the Boathouse, burgers at D-Luxe Burger, or signature Asian dining at Morimoto Asia.

Chef Art Smith‘s Homecomin’ is a favorite for brunch, and Wine Bar George is a popular spot for its extensive wine list and small bites. Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe are favorites for kids, and Planet Hollywood has lots of options for pickier eaters. The options are endless and you will easily find something to interest every member of your party.

Save room for dessert

Gideon's Bakehouse

Credit: Disney

Cap off your visit to Disney Springs with dessert! Head over to Ghiradelli’s for a specialty sundae or shake, or grab the seasonal cookie option from Gideon’s Bakehouse. Other options include purchasing something sweet from the cupcake ATM at Sprinkles or even ordering a cake to bring back to your hotel from Amorette’s Patisserie. Love chocolate? Make the Ganachery your final stop before leaving the Springs!

Want to spend more time in Disney Springs? Consider staying in a Disney Springs hotel! There are multiple resorts located adjacent to Disney Springs that come with many of the same benefits as official Walt Disney World resorts, and many come at more affordable price points. From the B Resort and Spa to the Holiday Inn, there are lots of great places to stay if you opt to make your day trip into an overnight.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."