Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping and dining center in Disney World with free admission.
It’s a fan-favorite location, but large crowds and hot temperatures can make a visit disappointing.
Disney Springs can also be pricey due to expensive food and souvenirs.
Disney Springs might be one of my favorite places to shop and eat in Disney World, but it’s not always magical to visit.
Located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Disney Springs has little shade and dark asphalt walkways. So when it’s 90 degrees outside, you feel the heat.
There are a few shady paths near the shops, but they are small and the sunlight still penetrates them.
As you walk around, you’ll notice that some of the stores are a bit basic, like the giant M&M store which sells regular sweets at extortionate prices. Some small boxes of candy, for example, cost over $20.
You might also see some sections under construction for months at a time, like this restaurant which isn’t expected to open until 2023.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Disney Springs, but they aren’t always open. Food trucks, for example, only open late on weekdays.
Other food stalls, like the carts that sell pretzels and Mickey’s ice cream, don’t have set hours, so you may have to walk around until you find one open. And when you do, be prepared to spend a decent amount of money. The pretzels alone cost $7.50.
There are plenty of photo ops throughout the mall, but they are often crowded with resting travelers.
There are also unique activities to participate in, such as Amphicar tours. But beware, a 20-minute ride in one costs $125, and if you want to watch from behind the scenes, you’ll have to walk through large crowds of onlookers.
If you visit after 5 p.m., expect to see the large crowds grow even larger. People flock to Disney Springs at sunset to avoid the heat.
As Disney Springs fills with tourists, the lines get extremely long. At popular restaurants like The Polite Pig, where reservations aren’t suggested, there’s often a wait to get in.
The Rainforest Cafe was one of the busiest restaurants I’ve seen, with a line stretching past the destination’s giant volcano just to make a reservation.
Gideon’s Bakehouse had an equally long wait, with dozens of visitors waiting to buy the shop’s half-pound cookies.
Read more: I tried the $6 cookies at Disney World that people line up for hours for, and it was the highlight of my vacation
You’ll also have to wait for quick-serve snacks, like Dole Whip.
And once you get your ice cream, it might not be too scenic. Even at 7:15 p.m., the Dole Whip I ordered melted in less than two minutes. Quickly, this $6.50 dessert seemed overpriced.
Sure, you can shop instead of dine, but you probably won’t beat the crowds. When I visited Disney Springs Sephora in July, I could barely walk the aisles.
Some of the worst lineups are the result of confused shoppers. The World of Disney line was so long that people didn’t know where to stand. And at the Disney Christmas store, I waited over 20 minutes to purchase an ornament before realizing I was at the personalization counter, not the checkouts.
Some designer stores are a little quieter, but the merchandise is less accessible. After seeing fans gather around a handbag in the Coach store, I checked the price. It cost $695.
Whenever you decide to leave, good luck. It’s nearly impossible to get through the crowds, and rideshare pick-up locations can be hard to find. There are only two, and they are at opposite ends of Disney Springs.
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