16 Great Things to Do and See in Disney Springs With Kids
If you are planning a trip to Disney World this year, we suggest carving out about half a day in your itinerary to visit Disney Springs. This entertainment district, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is complete with shopping, restaurants and more, and is one of the many fun things to do in Orlando outside of the theme parks.
For more ideas on what to do while visiting the region, take a look at our recommended Orlando entertainment options.
Before visiting the Disney theme parks, be sure to check out our rundown of what it’s like at Disney right now. Looking for a place to stay in Orlando? Here are some of the best Orlando hotels for families.
Things to Do with Kids at Disney Springs, Orlando
Enjoy an aerial view of the theme parks.
1. Aerophile Tethered Balloon Flight: Enjoy panoramic views of Disney during this eight-minute tethered helium balloon adventure. The balloon can hold up to 30 people and tickets can be purchased onsite on a first-come, first-served basis. Note: The balloon will not fly during storms or high winds.
2. AMC Movie Theater: Catch the latest blockbuster at this 24-theater venue complete with reserved seating. Six of the theaters also include dine-in service, where food and drinks are delivered right to your seat.
3. Amphicar Tours: Tour the waters surrounding Disney Springs in a vintage amphibious vehicle that drives on land and floats on the water. Tours are 20 minutes long and can be booked at the Boathouse Boatique.
Once it reopens, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a must-visit. Photo by Cicilia Teng
4. Bippidi Boppidi Boutique: This experience is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. However, it’s a must to add to your Disney Springs to-do list once everything gets back to normal. Fairy-godmothers in training give kids a royal princess or knight transformation. Package options include hairstyling, makeup, manicures, costumes, and accessories. Reservations are strongly recommended.
5. Candy & Sweet Shops: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a variety of sweets and candy available throughout Disney Springs. Check out the signature chocolate wall at the brand-new M&Ms store; treat the kiddos to an almost half-pound cookie at Gideon’s Bakehouse; try out a cupcake ATM machine at Sprinkles; or indulge in a hand-crafted donut at Everglazed Donuts. There are also Disney-themed candy shops onsite, including Candy Cauldron and Goofy’s Candy Company.
6. Coca-Cola Polar Bear Photos: Stop by the second level of the Coca-Cola store for a meet-and-greet and photo-ops with the famous Coca-Cola polar bear.
7. Face Painting Kiosk: This experience is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Kids and adults can get into character by getting a colorful face painting by professional artists. Choose from super heroes, butterflies, fairies, pirates, and more.
8. Lego Store: Awe at the elaborate larger-than-life Disney-themed Lego displays inside and outside of the store, great for photo-ops. The store normally has build stations and interactive exhibits. However, these are temporarily unavailable due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Take a spin on the Marketplace Carousel.
9. Marketplace Carousel: Little ones will love riding on this classic Venetian-style carousel with 16 hand-crafted horses. There’s even a Disney-style spinning teacup aboard the carousel. Ride tokens are $3 per person, and all ages are able to ride (kids under 42 inches tall must be accompanied by an adult).
10. Marketplace Train Express: Take a break from shopping and let the kids ride the tot-sized train loop. As with the carousel, ride tokens are $3 per person and all ages are eligible to ride.
11. Pin Trading: A favorite activity for Disney fans young and old is pin trading. There is a store at Disney Springs where guests can purchase new pins. Guests can also trade pins at all Disney stores and with cast members throughout Disney Springs.
Delight in a volcano cake at Rainforest Cafe.
12. Rainforest Café: You can't miss this restaurant, just follow the mega-sized volcano (note: the volcano "erupts" every 30 minutes and is a fun sight to see, especially at night). Once inside, dine in a tropical setting with animatronic creatures surrounding you that come to life during periodic thunderstorms to provide guests with an authentic rainforest feel (minus the actual rain).
13. Shopping: With about 100 stores within walking distance, there’s something to fit everyone's interests. Kids will love World of Disney—the world’s largest Disney gift shop—as well as Once Upon a Toy, a whimsical toy store with fun photo-ops. Little Star Wars fans can even build their own drone or lightsaber at the Star Wars Trading Post.
14. Splitsville Luxury Lanes: Tweens and teens will enjoy this upscale bowling venue. It offers traditional 10-pin and feather bowling, a lounge, billiards, live music, and food.
"Beware" of the life-size animatronic dinosaurs at T-Rex restaurant.
15. T-Rex restaurant: Be amazed by life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, including a 15 foot tall Tyrannosaurus rex, at this Jurassic-themed eatery. About every half an hour, witness the dinos come to life during a rumbling meteor shower. There is also a Paleo Zone hands-on area, where kids can dig for dinosaur fossils and pan for treasure in Discovery Creek, as well as a build-a-dino workshop area where guests can create their own dinosaur plush.
16. Water Play Areas: Cool off from the Florida heat in one of two free splash pad areas. The first is located near the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Once Upon a Toy, while a smaller one is located behind the Christmas store. There is also a squirting stitch figure perched atop the entrance to the World of Disney store, where kids usually gather in the line of fire (or should I say line of water). If you think your child will want to splash around in these water play areas, be sure to pack a towel and a change of clothes.
Things to Know Before You Go
Disney Springs Map: Disney Springs is divided into four sections—Marketplace, Town Center, West Side, and The Landing. Although walking each of these is doable, you will probably want to check out the map to best plan your time, prioritizing the stores or attractions you want to visit.
Parking and Transportation: Self-parking is FREE at all Disney Springs surface lots and garages. Walt Disney World bus service is also available from Disney’s onsite resorts and hotels. (Note: Bus service from the theme parks to Disney Springs is not available.) Disney Springs is walkable from some of the onsite resorts via pedestrian footbridges, including Disney's Saratoga Springs and Wyndham Lake Buena Vista. Water taxi service to Disney Springs from select resorts is not available at this time due to COVID-19 safety measures.
Safety Protocols: As part of Disney’s phased reopening plan, enhanced health and safety measures are in place. All guests to Disney Springs must undergo a temperature check prior to entry. Face coverings are required for all guests ages 2 and older. Some stores might have reduced hours, and high-touch interactive areas might be temporarily unavailable.
All photos courtesy of The Walt Disney Company