I don't know about you, but we NEVER make a trip to Disney World without at least one stop at Downtown Disney. Now I've talked before about how much I love this shopping, dining and entertainment destination and even offered some tips for navigating Downtown Disney, but today I wanted to share a few of the highlights from our most recent trip. Keep in mind that Downtown Disney is in the midst of being re-imagined into Disney Springs. The new entertainment area scheduled to open in 2016 will be roughly double the current size and will draw inspiration and theming from Florida's numerous waterfront towns.
While we're still a ways away from the complete transformation, changes are already taking place. To be fair, there is also a good amount of construction going on, but that shouldn't keep you from going, because everything is OPEN!
We're starting to get a taste of the new Disney Springs, and today I wanted to take you through a few of the changes and share some of our personal highlights!
The Co-Op AKA My Favorite New Shopping Destination
The Co-Op, which officially opened in June, was described on the Disney Parks Blog as "a testing space for new Disney retail concepts, shops and products." That makes it sound all scientific, but really, what it means is that the merchandise and merchants may change. For now, the open, warehouse-like space is home to six boutiques.
From the Disney Parks Blog:
- Beautifully Disney – A beauty destination for women, featuring make-up, fragrances and beauty accessories.
- Cherry Tree Lane – Accessories for the sophisticated woman with a passion for scarves, shoes, bags and jewelry.
- D-Tech on Demand – A place to personalize and customize your own electronic accessories.
- The Trophy Room – Vintage-inspired lifestyle sports apparel and collectibles.
- Disney Centerpiece – Home product for guests that want a splash of Disney in their room furnishings, textiles and everyday ware.
- Zoey and Pickles – A girls’ destination containing the latest trends and glamour for the up-and-coming fashionista.
Words don't do it justice, so let's see a few of the pics.
See anything you just can't live without? Yup, me too. I came home with a new collection of Tiki mugs!
One of the coolest gift ideas can be found at D-Tech on Demand where you can choose from more than a hundred Disney iPhone case designs and then personalize it yourself with your name.
Double Your Starbucks Stores
Those of you who have been reading for awhile know, there are few things in life I love more than shopping and coffee (oh, and Disney's caramel apples). So I was beyond excited to hear that there are now two Starbuckses at Downtown Disney, and even more excited when I actually got to visit.
The first location is a walk-up area outside World of Disney in the Marketplace. While you can't sit down, it's the perfect location because you can fuel up before you visit the largest Disney store IN THE WORLD! It doesn't hurt that it's right next door to the LEGO Store either, since Tad and Lily seem to always want to spend oodles of time building their Lego creations and racing them down the ramp outside the store.
The second location is on the Westside and it does offer indoor and outdoor seating. This is the coolest Starbucks I've ever visited! The inside is sleek but somehow still warm and inviting with lots of space for ordering and then another room to find a table, chill out and sip some java. There is a little outdoor nook off this room that offers lovely views of the lagoon and some outdoor tables.
What's even cooler is the interactive chalkboard. It will keep the kids occupied while you're ordering, and probably long after that. You can draw whatever you want on the chalkboard with your finger, and it shows up on the screen, but it also "draws" the scene inside the room, so if you're standing in front of it, you might find yourself silhouetted in chalk. Every so often, the chalkboard connects with the Starbucks at the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim and draws what is going on there. I have to say, we were all quite mesmerized by it, especially Leap, strangely enough. Who knew?
What else is on the horizon at Downtown Disney?
As Downtown Disney continues its transition to Disney Springs, more changes are coming. Here is a look at what's next.
- A permanent home is coming later this summer for the food trucks that arrived last fall. Food Truck Park on the West Side will be located between Bongos Cuban Cafe and Starbucks. Each of the trucks offers favorite dishes inspired by the theme parks, like sticky chicken n' waffles at Fantasy Fare and tandoor shrimp from Namaste Cafe.
- The first of two parking garages is being built, which should make it easier to find parking. When completed, the garages are expected to have about 6,000 spaces. Of course, there is free transportation to Downtown Disney from the parks and resorts.
- The Landing, a new waterfront area that will feature nationally known restaurants, is expected to open in early 2015.
- The largest Disney store in the world, World of Disney, will expand!
Of course, more changes are coming with Disney Springs, and we can't wait to see them! Are you as excited as I am about the changes? What do you love most at Downtown Disney? Share in comments below.
Related: Our Top 10 Downtown Disney Tips