Did you know that there’s one “park” in Disney World that’s completely FREE to visit?
OK, so Disney Springs isn’t technically a park, but it is a huge shopping and dining location with all kinds of stores, tons of fantastic restaurants, and even a few attractions. If you’re staying at a Disney World hotel or a good neighbor hotel, you can take the free Disney buses to get there. But if you’ll be driving yourself, there are a few things you need to know!
We called Disney Springs a park, and that’s mainly because of the sheer SIZE of the place. This isn’t your average shopping mall where you can park right outside one of the stores and head straight in.
Like the other Disney parks, Disney Springs is huge and very spread out. You can expect to walk quite a bit during a trip to this shopping center, even if you’re just going to grab dinner. You should definitely allow plenty of extra time for travel (including parking, getting out of the parking garage, and walking to the restaurant) if you have dining reservations.
Over the weekend, you can expect big crowds as Disney World guests and locals from Orlando all gather to spend the evenings in the Springs. Allow extra time if you plan to visit during the weekend!
We’ve got lots of tips and information right here to help you successfully plan and execute a Disney Springs trip.
Where Is Disney Springs?
Disney Springs is located on Disney World property. The nearest theme park is EPCOT (Disney Springs is right on the other side of EPCOT Center Drive). The nearest Disney-owned hotel is Disney’s Saratoga Springs, which is within walking distance.
If you’re arriving via I-4, then you’ll take Exit 67 toward EPCOT/Disney Springs. From there, you stay in the right lane and follow signs to get to the Springs.
Disney Transportation to Disney Springs
If you’re staying at a hotel that offers free transportation to and from the Disney World theme parks, you can use that transportation to get to Disney Springs, as well!
Disney’s free bus system travels between the hotels and Disney Springs beginning one hour before the Springs opens and ending one hour after it closes. Note that bus service between the theme parks and Disney Springs is NOT available. The buses only run between the hotels and Disney Springs.
Some hotels offer a boat service to and from Disney Springs. The Sassagoula Boats stop at the Disney Springs Marketplace and the following Disney World hotels:
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort
- Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
- Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
If you decide to use a rideshare like Uber or Lyft, you’ll be dropped off and picked up by the Marketplace Bus Loop (on the east side of Disney Springs).
Guests staying at Disney’s Saratoga Springs can easily walk between the hotel and the Springs using paths that connect the Hotel Plaza Boulevard to the Marketplace.
But what if you’re driving yourself?
Driving to Disney Springs
We’d recommend arriving at Disney Springs at least a full hour before any scheduled dining reservations. On busy days (like weekends), it’s not unusual to sit in an hour of traffic just waiting to get into the parking lot. You don’t want to miss your reservations just because you didn’t plan for the extra traffic!
Disney Springs has three parking garages — Orange, Grapefruit, and Lime — as well as two surface parking lots. The surface lots are generally only open during busier times. Self-parking is free at all of the lots and garages, and there is designated parking for guests with disabilities at all lots and garages.
When you arrive at a parking garage or lot, a digital message board will let you know if it is full. Parking can easily reach capacity on weekends and especially during busy times like the holiday season.
When you enter the parking garage, look for the lights on the ceiling. If the light is green, it indicates a free space. If it’s red, it means the space is taken. Sometimes this system is a little glitchy, but mostly it can be helpful.
At each of the parking garages, you can exit the garage to walk to Disney Springs through the security checkpoints, which are located on the far right of Level 2. However, remember that you may be closer to the exit if you park near the escalators on Levels 3 or 4 rather than parking far away from the security checkpoint on Level 2.
Valet parking is available at the porte-cochère of Cirque du Soleil, and it costs $20 plus tax. You can use valet parking Monday through Friday from 4:30PM to midnight and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight.
Which Lot Should You Choose?
When the surface parking lots are open, it can be a good idea to choose these over the garages because the walk to Disney Springs from your car will likely be shorter.
The Grapefruit Garage is the furthest from Disney Springs (it’s across the road, so you’ll have to take the walking bridge over that road to get to the Springs), but it’s often the best bet when it comes to finding a parking spot. The other two garages tend to fill up before this one does.
The Lime Garage is the closest to the huge World of Disney store, so this tends to be the most popular choice. It’s likely to fill up first, but if you can snag a spot here, you may not have to walk far to get to Disney Springs.
The Orange Garage is closer to more restaurants (and definitely closer to the Springs than the Grapefruit Garage), and it’s usually less busy than the Lime Garage.
The lot or garage that you choose will depend on your priorities (do you want a shorter walk or a better chance of finding a spot?) and when you visit (during busy times, the surface lots will likely be open).
Allow Plenty of Time
We’ve said it before, but we need to reiterate that you need to give yourself plenty of travel time! It can take at LEAST an hour to just get into a parking garage and find a spot, and then you still have to walk to Disney Springs and then to the restaurant.
We have frequently encountered traffic and back-ups when trying to park in the garages, especially in the evenings and on Fridays and Saturdays. Disney Springs is a popular hang-out and date-night destination, so guests and locals alike will flock here.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic with the time of our dining reservation fast approaching, call the restaurant and explain the situation. They may be able to hold your reservation for a while while you park and walk to the restaurant.
Don’t forget that there is no Disney bus transportation between Disney Springs and the Disney World theme parks. If you’re spending the day in Magic Kingdom but have dining reservations at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs, you cannot take the bus from the park to the Springs. You can, however, take the Monorail to one of the nearby hotels and take a bus from there to the Springs (and back).
If you’re planning to leave your car at Disney Springs to visit a different Disney spot, make sure you return early enough to get your car back. The garages close when Disney Springs closes, so you’ll have to find a security guard to help you get out if you’re late picking up your vehicle.
You can use the Car Locator feature in the My Disney Experience app to find your car at the end of the day. Just save your parking details before you leave your vehicle, and then you’ll have all the information you need when it’s time to go home.
Learn more about the Car Locator feature here.
Now you’re prepared to successfully travel to Disney Springs! Want to learn more about this huge shopping and dining location? Check out the posts below:
- We’ve Eaten at Every Disney Springs Restaurant. These Are the BEST.
- How You Should Spend Your Money in Disney Springs
- The Best Snacks Under $10 at Disney Springs
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Click here for our full guide to Disney Springs.
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What’s your favorite way to travel to Disney Springs? Let us know in the comments.
The post A Word of WARNING About Disney Springs first appeared on the disney food blog.