Founded in 1997, Downtown Disney was the name chosen for the expansion of The Disney Village Marketplace (formerly the Walt Disney World Village). This unique entertainment hub provided a place for guests to dine, play and shop for nearly 20 years, easily becoming a staple of a Walt Disney World visit over the years. However, on Monday, September 28th, Downtown Disney closed for the last time, officially becoming Disney Springs the following day, on September 29th.
Though there are still a few vestiges of the old Downtown Disney still hanging around, Disney Springs is going to be a completely new experience when it is finally completed next year, and it might be one that fans of the original Downtown Disney concept might find jarring, especially for those who have gotten used to these four things...
1. A place for everyone
One of the great things about Downtown Disney was its inclusiveness. There were plenty of stores for families to check out, nightclubs for young adults to have some fun at, and restaurants that ranged from fast food to full service. However, Disney Springs won’t have this same all-encompassing approach.
Disney has very carefully crafted a new vision for Disney Springs that eschews anything that could be considered “cheap”, instead opting to appeal directly to the luxury market. Recently-opened restaurants The BOATHOUSE and Morimoto Asia as well as restaurants still under construction like STK will cater exclusively to Walt Disney World guests looking to spend a lot of money on dining. While that wouldn’t be all that noteworthy by itself under normal circumstances (everyone likes to treat themselves on vacation, after all), the fact is that there are no moderate or value restaurants opening at the same time to cater to other guests. Though the argument could be made that the Disney Food Truck Park was crafted as a way to give more budget-minded guests an option, this seems like paltry conciliation for those who aren’t looking to spend a huge amount on meals during a visit to Disney Springs
And food isn’t the only place where budget-minded consumers are being overlooked in the new Disney Springs. While Downtown Disney always had a nice mix of stores designed to cater to every budget, with new retail locations like The Art of Shaving, PANDORA, Apex Sunglass Hut, and Chapel Hats only offering designer and high end products, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for consumers who want to shop at more moderate-level shops at Disney Springs, which puts it in stark contrast to Downtown Disney, which prided itself on its wide variety of shops.