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
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
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.