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Though it is home to World of Disney, one of the world’s most iconic Disney shops, (second only perhaps to Main Street USA’s Emporium at the Magic Kingdom), the Marketplace district at Disney Springs has been looking a little abandoned as of late, with the majority of guests hanging out in the newly-opened Town Center and Landing areas of the shopping district or even the soon-to-be redesigned West Side.

So why is this happening? While there’s no single answer, we have a few theories as to what is causing guests to abandon this area, and what Disney is doing to try and fix this problem.

1. Changing the bus loop changes everything

Image: Disney

One of the biggest changes to come to Disney Springs in the past year was the relocation of the bus loop. While this may not sound like a huge deal, considering the majority of resort guests get around using this tried and true transportation method, this was significant change, as guests are no longer dropped off on the far side of the Marketplace, and are instead shuttled right to the front of the shiny new Town Center, where there are plenty of fresh and exciting shops to explore.

And while guests who are really motivated can still just take a quick stroll directly to the Marketplace district, you can hardly blame those who elect to take a few hours to bask in the sights of the scenic Landing and Town Center areas, and perhaps just don't have time for the Marketplce anymore (which has remained more or less the same for nearly a decade). 

With the relocated bus loop conveniently dropping guests off in this new area, guests often find themselves less motivated to walk out to the far side of the shopping district now, which may sound like a stretch, but is probably the single-biggest element working against the Marketplace right now.

But it’s certainly not the only factor…

2. The rise of Disney Springs as a dining destination

Image: Disney  

The transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs has brought a lot of significant changes to this area, primarily in the realm of aesthetics. However, if you think the changes at this destination are only skin deep, you’d be very mistaken.

With the Disney Springs project, one of the big overarching goals for Disney was to bring a new, classier “feel” to the shopping district, and one of the ways they have accomplished this goal early on is by attracting big-name chefs and restaurants to the district. From Morimoto Asia to the newly re-opened Planet Hollywood Observatory (with a menu partially designed by Guy Fieri) and even Frontera Cocina by Rick Bayless, Disney Springs has come into its own over the past year as a paradise for foodies. But unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to the Marketplace.

Though this neglected area of Disney Springs does have fan favorite eateries like the Earl of Sandwich and the Rainforest Café, when you are competing with places like The BOATHOUSE, Homecoming, and even Disney’s own D-Luxe Burger, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of a reason for food fans to really leave the Town Center/Landing areas of the shopping district anymore, which is bad news not only for the restaurants on the far side of Disney Springs, but retailers too, who depend on these restaurants to provide foot traffic. 

While these two issues may be keeping quite a large amount of guests away from this corner of Disney Springs, the resort has been taking some pretty aggressive measures in the past few months to try and revitalize this area. 

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Comments

As someone who WORKS in the Marketplace of Disney Springs, I can say with 100000000% certainty that this could not be anymore incorrect. The marketplace is still always as packed as it's always been. You still can barely walk through the LEGO store and maneuvering World of Disney is a feat. The lines are always stretching outside of Ghiradelli and you're lucky if you can get something to eat in Earl of Sandwich.

So no. Marketplace is not deserted, and never will be.

During an average WDW trip for us (10 days), we'll spend part of at least four days at Disney Springs. It's usually in the evenings, but we will do at least one lunchtime visit. 90% of out time there is spent n the Marketplace. We don't go there to buy non-Disney stuff; we have a mall 10 minutes from where we live, so why buy stuff that we have to tote home from Florida?

While we do eat a meal or two in the Town Center/Landing sections, we "hang out" in the Marketplace. There's usually a fun DJ down there, and we like getting a late dessert at Ghirardelli, so we're never without a reason to be there.

I come down to Disney 4 to 5 times a year and the only thing I can say is disney please stop making these big changes to all of Disney leave the market place alone I will never go back to Star Wars park ( Hollywood studio) cause you ruined that park what's next you guys gonna take MICKEY away when you make changes ask the people what they want and if you would I think you will find most don't like the changes your making

I very much dislike the new uppity expensive mall feel. First, I cannot afford any of those stores. So I avoid them. 2nd. Most of the restaurants and the same way. I may poke my head in and look at a menu. But when they are charging $30 for a burger and fries (frozen at that). I keep moving.
Usually when I go to "Downtown Disney" (I will NEVER call it Disney Springs) I take a quick right out of the bus loop and head straight to the old section.
I come to Downtown Disney for the DISNEY experience. Not to go shopping in an over priced mall.

I think abandoned is an exaggeration. I live down here and it and the rest of disney springs is always packed. The above mentioned items are reasons guests are coming. They still visit that side of the springs.

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