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4 Things We Lost When Downtown Disney Officially Became Disney Springs

2. More than a mall 

Image: Disney

And speaking of shopping, another key difference that will set Disney Springs apart from Downtown Disney is this reimagined shopping center's focus on becoming the next big retail destination in Central Florida. While Downtown Disney primarily catered to those staying on property at Walt Disney World and local annual passholders, Disney Springs is hoping to attract shoppers from all over the region by offering an expansive shopping experience unlike anything else.  

When it is completed, Disney Springs will have over 150 shops and restaurants, making it competitive with nearby shopping destinations like the Mall at Millenia and the Florida Mall. Not only will this put pressure on these other shopping locations, it will also clog this reimagined area with more shoppers than ever. While Downtown Disney has always attracted healthy crowd levels (especially during the summer and holiday seasons), with the increased focus on pulling local shoppers out of the malls and into Disney Springs, more people than ever will be packing this new area all year round, making a visit to Disney Springs more of a busy mall experience, which is a big difference from the casual shopping and dining experience previously offered by Downtown Disney.  

3. Theming goes to extremes at Disney Springs

Image: Disney

Though Downtown Disney has always featured a fair amount of theming (Pleasure Island had a notably humorous backstory), Disney Springs will be taking theming outside a Walt Disney World theme park or hotel to the extreme. This new shopping and dining district has an extensive story revolving around a small, fictional town that grew out of a natural spring. You can check out the video below for more on the incredibly intricate narrative surrounding this new area:

When completed, Disney Springs will be the most highly-themed shopping experience in the world, complete with its own visual icon (or “weenie”, if you prefer) in the form of the Disney Springs water tower. While this isn’t really a bad thing (we do love hunting for details at Disney) the focus on creating such an immersive experience for what is becoming essentially an outdoor mall seems misplaced, especially since Disney’s Hollywood Studios is suffering with its own theming just down the street. And while theming is definitley integral to the theme park experience, it really isn't necessary for guests only interested in shopping and dining, and it seems odd that Disney is spending so much time and effort on this component of Disney Springs. 

4. Distance from the theme park experience

Image: Disney 

When it was first conceived, Downtown Disney was an augmentation of the theme park experience. However, the goal with Disney Springs is to become its own shopping attraction, separate from the theme parks that made Walt Disney World a household name. Though Disney is largely working to accomplish this goal by launching an impressive marketing campaign aimed at luring shoppers, Disney is also physically separating Disney Springs from the theme parks via a new I-4 overpass that will provide shoppers with a way to go directly to the shopping district, bypassing everything else at Walt Disney World. 

Though its true you can't have Disney Springs without Disney, this new shopping plaza will be trying to make itself a destination in its own right, instead of something that guests just visit while they are visiting the resort (which some say was the biggest problem with Downtown Disney). Only time will tell if Disney Springs actually accomplish this goal, but one thing is for certain: this reimagined shopping center is going to be nothing like its predecessor. We'll let you decide for yourself whether that is a good or a bad thing...  

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There are 16 comments.

Are you kidding me? It has too MUCH theming? If they had done less, you and all the other Disney fanboys would be on here screaming "How DARE they make just a regular shopping mall? There's NOTHING DISNEY about that! I bet WALT would not approve!" etc.

The point of this article is clickbait, pure and simple. How about we wait until the darn thing is complete before we start complaining about it?

It was never broken (other than the parking). Why "fix" it?

My personal opinion is that Disney Springs is a great idea. I love to go there and feel like I'm part of that experience. I have an annual pass and live nearby so I feel like it's my town that I'm going to hang out in. The writer states that we are to decide if the changes will be good or bad but truly I feel like the article is written in a way to make you feel as if the changes are bad. It doesn't feel like a neutral stance at all. Either way, the change is welcome and the project is not yet complete so let's throw stones after everything is done.

and where is everyone going to park?

We can barely afford to eat now on a Disney vacation, this really is frustrating. I was upset when they closed Pollo Campero since it was the only place to get a decent meal with out breaking the bank. Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island were always a must do for us, now it won't be

I didn't think Pollo Campenero was that cheap or good. Plus, House of Blues has great food at very reasonable prices for a themed restaurant.

We are budget wise whe eating at Disney. Disney Springs still has Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck express, several new food trucks and appetizers made for sharing at several other restaurants. Do the discouraged, there are still good eats there at a reasonable price!

I am devastated that they ruined Downtown Disney!They have completely taken out the magic of being there! This used to be one of my favorite places to go, just for the day, when I lived in Orlando. But, now I could care less about it. It was so amazing in its original concept, "Lake Buena Vista-Shopping Village". It was like still being in the park, just minus the rides! Even the main shop, World of Disney, is a disappointment anymore. I remeber it NOT having BBB and having a really cool Alice themed area around the stuffed animals, and they used to have really nice collectible figurines, so many snowglobes you couldn't decide which one you should pick, each "room" was themed for specific merchandise, and a wide variety of Disney clothing options for adults, not just kids. You could spend hours just in that store. Also, missing is the Bed & Bath store which offered awesome Disney bedroom sets, towels, and more like clocks, candles, and even bed frames...When I get the chance to go back to DW, this will not be on my agenda of palces to visit. I will gladly just stay on the monorail and hop from resort to resort and enjoy the better shopping and eating options.

In the end, it is always the bottom line and making as much money as possible that wins out. So sad but true. Disneyworld really has not been a place for everyone for a long time.

You are so right. Since its opening, my parents took me every year and since I had a license I've went numerous times every year I will be going back in one week to celebrate my birthday and sadly saying I will break tradition and not return for at least 3 - 5 years or until all current Disney major projects are completed. As much as I love Disney and anything affiliated with Disney, this has just gotten out of hand as far as its cost and what audience Disney is now targeting. I have come to the conclusion that I will start making new memories in other directions as far as vacations go. I just believe that the greediness of Bob Iger and the stockholders have completely turn their noses up to the very class of people that built Disney and are just now catering to the wealthy few that can simply pay these outlandish prices to eat,sleep and shop.....it was once said that Iger was quoted saying that he didn't give damn about the middle class, he was only interested in the person that could sky rocket his net worth as quick as any Disney fairy could wave their wand.....shame on you Bob Iger

Citation on what Bob Iger said please? Prices have obviously been going up in the parks for a number of reasons - expansions, maintenance, updates, and new employees. Disney is currently expanding the Animal Kingdom, Norway, the Hub Expansion at MK, Disney Springs, Road and infrastructure projects, Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, Disneyland Shanghai, enhancements at Paris, Honk Kong and Tokyo. If the parks remained stagnant everyone would complain. All of Disney Springs isn't finished. Let's wait to see the finished project before we all criticize. Do I find things to be expensive sometime? Sure, I just move on and still have a great time doing other things. It's still fairly inexpensive to travel and have a great time at WDW compared to other vacations.

They need to sit down and figure out what its goals are now. Cause I think they are waundering.

Thanks for the heads-up. When I return to Disney I will know not to waste my time on what sounds like just another high dollar retail tourist trap. I can find malls and over-priced restaurants and shops much closer to home.

Noooo don't take downtown disney away :'( this is so sad, disney springs sounds cool but not in place of downtown disney

I find the theming to be great. The recent past of Downtown Disney was so fragmented in it's theming it just didn't know what to do with itself. It lacked identity and warmth. It was chaos and poorly planned. I like the direction of the theming here. Guess i'm in the minority.

Can you guys make an article focusing on what good things Disney Springs has to offer? The place did need an update. Everything at Disney evolves, updates, and changes. It's what Walt wanted to happen. Personally, I like the theme. The architecture is very appealing and I can't wait to see what the Edison and Planet Hollywood Observatory will look like.
When it comes to food, yes, it is expensive. But when is a restaurant at Disney not gonna cost you a pretty penny? Some might be reasonable, but will still cost more than what you would pay in your hometown. You pay for the experience. The reason the BOATHOUSE, Morimoto Asia, T-REX, and Rainforest Cafe are so expensive is because you can't find places that offer this kind of atmosphere and food normally. Not to mention the food is good. It's expensive, but it's expensive for a reason. Plus when I eat at those places it's mainly for special occasions, not for a regular date night kind of deal. It keeps it special. When I go to Disney Springs I eat at Cookes of Dublin or Earl of Sandwich. Yummy food at a reasonable price.
Shopping. They did open up stores aimed more for luxury, but you forgot to mention stores that opened like Marvel Superhero Headquarters. If I was in the DCP again I would love to work there! And they have neat things like buttons that are around $1 - $2 each or a book of 12 posters for $20. There are also plenty of other places there that have been opened for awhile and are amazing. Also, I don't know about the rest of you, but most of the time when I go to Disney Springs I hardly ever buy merchandise. I love to window shop and it's what my family usually does when we go. One of my favorite stores is Pop Gallery, you think every time I go in there I buy a new painting? I still go and have fun even though I can't afford much of the merchandise there because I'm still on Disney property, it still brings back memories, and it's still a great experience.

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