Christmas is the most magical time of year and Disney is the most magical place on Earth. So that must mean Disney at Christmas is the most magical place in the universe. While this post may not be about Disneyworld, it is about Disney Springs, which is perfect if you don’t want the full Disney experience, are limited on time, budget, or just don’t want to go to Disneyworld.
Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney, is kind of split into two areas, the regular shopping area with stores like Sephora and Zara, and the Disney side with all the Disney themed stores. Most of the festive things will be on the Disney side, but the decor is all over. While we weren’t in Orlando for Christmas, it was only October, I got a taste of what it would be like and if you want a warm Christmas, it’s a pretty great option.
It’s just more festive
Christmas makes everything better. The decorations, the music, and the snow. Ok, so there isn’t any snow here, but they’ve got the music and decorations down. Aside from the Tree Trail, you’ll find a giant tree on the regular shopping side along with garland, tinsel, ornaments, and sculpture type things, too. It makes for a much more merry visit to get you into the holiday spirit. You can find seasonal snacks around Disney Springs as well at this time of year.
They have fun Christmas activities
The Stitch Holiday Gift Hunt is the main activity, but they may have other special things going on just on certain days. The Stitch Holiday Gift Hunt is basically a Stitch scavenger hunt. You get a little list of shops to go to, find stitch in, and get a stamp. Once you’ve found all of them you get a little surprise!
There is holiday entertainment along the promenade
Depending on the day and time you visit, you might be able to enjoy some live holiday entertainment along the promenade. You might find a DJ Holiday dance party, holiday-dressed living statues, Kwanza and Kalinka celebrations, as well as live performances.
The Christmas Tree Trail
This is probably the most exciting part. There is a Christmas Tree Trail on the Disney side with a collection of trees decorated for almost all of the Disney movies. This is a preferred evening activity, or at least once it’s dark out, but it’s still cool to see during the day if that’s your only option. It’s hard to pick a favorite, so here are a few that I really loved: Alice in Wonderland, The Villains, Haunted Mansion, Mulan, and sleeping beauty.
And you can meet Santa
After oyu finish your stroll through the Christmas Tree Trail, you’ll be right by Santa’s chalet. Pop in for a picture or just to say hey! Just check in at the podium with your phone number and you’ll be paged when it’s your turn, kind of like at some restaurants. This way you can walk around instead of just standing in line. Once you get the text, you have ten minutes to get back to Santa. This is free.
And even if you don’t go at Christmas, you can still go to Disney Days of Christmas
Disney Days of Christmas is one of the stores on the Disney side that sells all things holiday. Even in July, you can admire the Disney-themed ornaments (they have some really pretty ones), stockings, and other holiday decor.
Other free places to get a taste of Disney
- Disney’s very own town of Celebration, just a short drive from Orlando.
- Disney’s Boardwalk between Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
- Universal’s City Walk outside of Universal Studios. It may not be Disney, but it’s close.
Tips for visiting Disney Springs:
- Disney Springs is free unless you want to buy anything.
- They have free parking garages, but there is also valet parking available for $20 if you prefer that.
- There are complimentary buses and water transportation from Disney resorts to Disney Springs. From Saratoga Springs Resort, there is a pedestrian bridge so you can walk right over to Disney Springs.
- There are plenty of dining options to choose from, but they’re not particularly budget-friendly.
- Wear good walking shoes and plan to spend a few hours here. Less time is necessary if you just want to see the Disney stores. I think I spent about 4 hours there walking around the whole thing.
- Pop into Uniqlo for some cute, affordable Disney clothes. They have regular clothes, too, but they also have some featuring Mickey and Minnie.
Whether you get to visit during the holidays or not, Disney Springs is worth an afternoon or morning. It will give you a nice break from running around between rides and from lots of planning. It’s a great way to enjoy some of the magic of Disney without the hefty price tag.
Have you been to Disney Springs? What did you think of it? What is your favorite thing about Disney? Favorite Disney movie?