If you visit Disney Springs and expect to see a revamped Downtown Disney, it’s not going to happen.
Depending on how long it’s been since you were there, you may not recognize it at all. But the changes are good changes. And a better use of the space to accommodate an ever-growing population of guests visiting Disney.
While there is plenty for the shoppers, there’s also a lot for those of us who just enjoy good food and atmosphere.
One change that stood out was the addition of some dining options for those of us who don’t want to make a reservation in advance. D-Luxe offers gourmet burgers, fries and shakes and Blaze Pizza, where you can make-your-own pizza.
In addition, a new cupcake shop called Sprinkes has made its debut.
Now this we had to try! You could choose from mini or regular size cupcake and being the cupcake connisseurs we are, we had to try the larger ones. They were delicious and fresh! You can watch them make the cupcakes and if your in a hurry, you can order one from the cupcake ATM outside the store.
And after indulging in dessert, a nice walk around the springs, and a beautiful Florida sunset made a perfect ending to the day.
My favorite season in Disney is Flower and Garden Festival! The weather is near perfect, there’s flowers galore, and every weekend there are outdoor concerts by a variety of great bands.
This year, Flower and Garden begins March 2 and goes through May 30. And as if this annual event couldn’t get any better, a few years ago they added outdoor kitchens which is essentially an extension of Food And Wine Festival in spring!
Great food, music, 30 million flowers and 70 different topiaries! Does it get better than that?
A favorite of mine is the butterfly garden, where the butterflies roam free and often land on guests. It’s best to visit this area a few weeks into the festival so you can see the more than 10 species of butterflies. Another highlight is a small group of performers called the Jamitors. They play amazing music with pots, pans, trash can lids and 5 gallon buckets!
So if you have the opportunity to visit Epcot in spring, you just can’t miss the Flower and Garden Festival!
One of the biggest things I was looking forward to when I moved to Orlando was going to Walt Disney World during “slow season.” However, I was not terribly surprised to see there really is no slower season in Disney anymore. No one wants to go there when it’s really crowded. But a lot of people do!
There seem to be small pockets of quieter times in the parks but not weeks or even days of it. I’ve found that sometimes on a Friday night after Wishes Fireworks, the Magic Kingdom gets a little less crowded and the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean goes back to the 5-minute wait time Disney fans know and love. And a random day here and there you may find less crowded. But for the most part, Disney has succeeded in driving business to the parks.
You could steer clear of the obvious busy time such as holidays. And Saturday night in the Magic Kingdom is never a good idea if you don’t like crowds. But now in addition to those times there are marathon weekends, and seasons of busy time like Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (going on now!) and Food and Wine Festival in the fall.
Your best bet might just be to have a plan when you go. Use the Fast Pass system because it works! And I’ve always found the World Showcase in Epcot to be a nice place to spend time when there are long lines for attractions. It’s a great place to enjoy an adult beverage, see entertainment on a less crowded level and enjoy a variety of culinary delights!
Change is necessary. But it’s not always good.
Disney recently announced it will replace some of Epcot’s entertainment in the World Showcase to make way for new shows and performances.
Off Kilter, the Celtic rock band that has entertained many guests in Epcot since it opened in 1982, is part of those performers being cut.
Off Kilter fans are mad, and have organized a campaign to “Save Off Kilter.”
And although I agree that some performers need replacing in Epcot, I don’t agree with replacing Off Kilter.
The band’s last performance is September 27th.
So for the last 2 weekends, we’ve made our way to Epcot to listen to some of Off Kilter’s last performances. And while they know these are their last shows, they give it their all – just like they always have.
The kilt- wearing bagpipe playing band always draws a crowd, and appeals to all ages. Located in the Canada Pavillion, it’s a great place to sit and enjoy a beverage while listening to a performance.
You can always count on hearing favorites like “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” and “Amazing Grace.”
One Off Kilter fan from Michigan told me she just doesn’t understand why Disney would replace Off Kilter with log rollers. She admitted she’d probably watch that once, adding that she watches Off Kilter perform on every trip to Disney.
So I hope that Disney hears the Off Kilter fans loud and clear and finds a way to keep this Epcot classic performing for many years.
If you spent time in Epcot this weekend you probably noticed how empty it was. You could call that Disney in September but it’s also likely the calm before the storm. Next weekend begins Epcot International Food and Wine Festival – the most anticipated event of the year for food, wine and craft beer enthusiasts.
It’s a party for your taste buds and an opportunity to taste the culinary delights from various countries, craft beer and a plethora of wines.
Small appetizer sized portions of various foods can be purchased, usually priced between $3.50 – $5.00.
Due to its popularity, this festival gets longer every year. It will run for 53 days this year from September 19 through November 10.
Saturday evening small groups of festival cast members could be seen throughout the World Showcase getting their last-minute instructions.
And while you nibble your way around the world, you can see performances in the Eat To The Beat Concert Series which features performances such as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Smash Mouth and Boyz ll Men just to mention a few.
Mixology seminars and cooking demonstrations along with many other mini events will occur during the festival.
Although the festival itself draws large crowds, if you plan to attend expect weekdays to be only slightly less crowded.
It was the first thing on my agenda after becoming a Florida resident – getting our Disney annual pass.
And 8 days after arriving with everything unpacked, we headed to Guest Relations at Downtown Disney to do just that.
Disney offers a great opportunity for Florida residents to take advantage of purchasing their annual passes and having the cost split into monthly payments with no additional costs or interest! What a great way to make the annual pass a little easier on the wallet!
We were anxious to get to one of the parks and enjoy a few hours of evening park hours.
I was also curious about how different it would feel to be in Disney now that we live here and can visit the parks anytime.
I have to admit there was this sense of unhurried park enjoyment!
If we didn’t get to an attraction, no big deal…we’d be back soon.
Unlike vacationing here, we didn’t need to spend the entire day in the park. Instead, we can go for a morning or evening.
We can also see every season in the parks! Halloween items are starting to pop up in the gift shops but I imagine it won’t be long before the parks are completely decorated for fall and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which begins in September. Also beginning next month is my favorite – Epcot International Food And Wine Festival!
And with the Christmas season approaching and 2 of our 3 daughters visiting over Christmas, we will get the opportunity to accomplish another Disney goal I’ve had – spending Christmas Day in the the parks!
I don’t have a lot of free time on my hands these days but when I do get a little time, I begin to imagine what it will be like living 24 miles from Walt Disney World.
On our most recent trip to Florida to find a home, I saw a Disney Magical Express bus and realized, I won’t be riding that bus anymore! In case you don’t know, Magical Express is the Disney-provided transportation from the Orlando International Airport to your Disney resort. It didn’t really bother me that I won’t be on that bus anymore since our new home is so close. I’ve always had this like/dislike relationship with Magical Express anyway. I liked it when I arrived and it was whisking us off to start our vacation, but I really disliked the bus when it was picking us up to return to the airport and go home.
There are a few things I’ll miss about planning my Disney vacations.
I’ll miss choosing a resort to stay at and I’ll miss the midday breaks we would take at the resort to go back and swim. I’ll also miss the anticipation and countdowns we always did to our Disney vacations.
But instead, we’ll have countdowns to the visits from our children and grandchildren, friends and family! We’ll also get to experience every season in Disney! I won’t have to go years without seeing the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. And I don’t have to wonder every year if I’ll get to the International Food and Wine Festival. I can spend my birthday in Disney every year.
I also won’t have to worry about how I’m going to get something home that I want to purchase. I won’t have to miss our dog, Tinkerbell. And if we spend a long day at the parks, I can take her to Best Friends Pet Care Center for the day! It’s located right near the Port Orleans resorts and is open an hour before the parks open and it closes an hour after the parks close, so I can drop her off on our way to the parks and pick her up after we finish!
I could flip a coin to decide which park to go to that day. Or I could park hop and go to all of them in the same day. We could go to the parks just for dinner and fireworks! We can track points we accumulate at Buzz Light Year and Toy Story Mania and have monthly competitions!
And if I take another Disney Cruise, we’re just a short half hour drive to Port Canaveral!
So as the list of “benefits” keeps growing in my mind, I think about, and am grateful for the one thing I will not have to do ever again.