By Dawn Allcot
One of the best things about Disney Springs is there is always something new to explore.
Whether it’s a small kiosk or a new restaurant, if you’re a regular visitor you’re almost bound to discover some unexplored corner of the vast, 120-acre shopping and dining extravaganza.
If you haven’t been there in a while, you will be amazed by the changes and improvements.
And Disney keeps adding more to do each year.
Here are a few Disney Springs adventures you won’t want to miss. (And most of them are free – or close to it.)
1. Take Your Picture with the Coca-Cola Bear
Venture up to the second level of the Coca-Cola Store and you’ll find the famous Coca-Cola Polar Bear all ready for a photo opp. The photos link to your Disney PhotoPass so you can download them free as part of your Memory Maker subscription.
Other reviewers say that you can even have a friend take a photo with your phone or your own camera to keep, for free. #PolarSelfie, anyone?
Keep going to the rooftop soda bar and taste a flight of 16 Coke beverages for just $9.
The LEGO store, one of the original retail venues when Disney Springs was still Downtown Disney, is a great place to spend time with your kids. We literally spent two hours there building and racing LEGO cars near the water’s edge.
Photo opps abound, but you’ll need to use your own phone or camera. You’ll find a dragon, Buzz Lightyear on a rocket, Woody and Buzz, the Incredible Hulk, LEGO friends, and the famous Loch Ness Monster peeking out from the lake.
You can also build your own LEGO creations on multiple tables throughout the store, or create LEGO mini-figs to take home, three for $10.
3. Become an On-screen Superhero
Ever wonder what you would look like as Iron-man, Captain America, or Black Widow?
Find out in the Marvel Super Hero Headquarters.
The magic of green screen technology puts your face onto the Marvel super hero of your choice and displays it on the wall-mounted monitor for all to see. The store’s team members clap when the latest super hero is born.
The experience doesn’t link to your Disney PhotoPass or MemoryMaker, but you can take a photo home for $30. Even if you don’t buy the print, the experience is worth a few minutes of your time.
4. Build Your Own Lightsaber
Disney Springs boasts two Star Wars stores – one right next to the Super Hero Headquarters. You can build your own lightsaber in either store from a wide collection of parts. No one frowns upon a mini-lightsaber battle inside the store, either.
While we didn’t purchase any of our lightsaber creations, you certainly can. But for our kids, the fun was in the building.
Make a right at the entrance to the TRex Café and you’ll find an alcove filled with sand and children digging happily. Whether or not you eat at the TRex Café, children can play paleontologist and unearth dinosaur bones with the brushes provided – or their hands.
Great for toddlers but I saw several tweens digging with younger siblings, too.
This one’s for the hard-working moms.
After a day of Disney parks and the Florida heat, you’ll want to chill out in Disney Springs with this free perk during Happy Hour. Stop by Wine Bar George for a free taste of Frose, the season’s coolest adult beverage.
Six- and nine-ounce pours are also affordable by Disney standards, so get one to-go.
Take a Break (From Spending) at Disney Springs
With more than 150 shopping, dining, and entertainment venues, Disney Springs can certainly get as expensive as other properties in the Disney World Resort.
But it is also fun to wander for several hours and take in the atmosphere without spending a bundle.
What’s your favorite free activity to do in Florida’s Disney Springs?
Disney World Monorail Self-Guided Bar Crawl
By Michael DeBonis
Walt Disney World is known for being one of the most magical places on earth filled with adventure, thrills, magic and family fun. However, some only think Disney World is a vacation destination made for families and children. Disney World has something for all ages from special excursions, events, recreations, restaurants, nightclubs, attractions and live shows.
A favorite “Adult’s Only” adventure of mine includes riding one of the most world renowned transportation systems at one of the most famous destination in Florida, if not the country. Well, the Monorail loop and the three resorts that are connected to it feature world class restaurants and bars at which signature drinks and food can be found.
Now while some are taking the monorail to the parks, a select few, who are in on this somewhat secret activity, are using it for another purpose. The Self Guided Monorail Bar Crawl. You must be of age in order to partake in this magical adventure which features bars of different styles and themes. If you need some alone time in order to do this journey, Disney’s Contemporary Resort offers a child care center where children can have an exciting night of fun on their own. You can start at any one of the three resorts of your liking to begin the Self Guided Monorail Bar Crawl.
We’ll begin at The Grand Floridian. This is a short stop because there is only one bar that you can really experience without traveling far from the monorail station in the resort. Once at the Grand Floridian head to Mizners which is located on the second floor. When you get to your first destination, I suggest trying a Mizners cooler. This cocktail is made with St-Germain, Nolet’s Gin, lime juice, simple syrup, soda water, and fresh mint. It’s a very refreshing drink that will get you on your way. There are other drinks you can try here as well – but remember to pace yourself otherwise it will be tough to make it all the way through this journey!
|The Seven Seas Lagoon
Next stop, the Contemporary Resort! Upon arriving here, there are 3-bars that you can visit and each have a signature drink that you can try. The Wave on the ground level of the Contemporary, here I suggest you try the “Magical Star” or the “Seven Seas Lagoon”. (The Seven Seas Lagoon is not on the drink menu, but you can ask the bartender for it). Brace yourself; it is a rather large drink – and is best enjoyed by two people. The Magical Star is made with X- fusion Mango and Passion Fruit liqueur, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Pineapple juice and a souvenir multicolored glow cube. Both are very tasty and well worth the visit to The Wave. Once you’ve finished your drinks here, make your way up to the 4th floor to visit The Outer Rim. Here, there are many drinks you can choose from but I suggest you try the Glow-Tini. A resort favorite, the Glow-Tini is made with SKYY Infusions Citrus Vodka, Peach Schnapps, Blue Curacao and Pineapple Juice. This glowing blue drink draws lots of attention from onlookers! Lastly, make your way to the Californian Grill elevator and ask the check-in desk if there is seating available at the bar or lounge area. Once you arrive to the rooftop bar, you can experience amazing views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and the Magic Kingdom. Most importantly, if you time it right, you can have an amazing view of the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom. Try the Twisted Mai Tai which features Mount Gray Rum, Crème de Noyaux, Orange Juice and Pineapple juice with a splash of lime. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views! When you are ready to move on, head back down to the Contemporary’s monorail station and catch the transport to your next and final resort.
|Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
|The Polynesian Resort offers some amazing drink selections that are a must try. Once you arrive, head to the Tambu Lounge. Seating is limited because it is located outside of O’hana, but here you can try 2-signature drinks if you’re up to it. The Back Scratcher and the Lapu Lapu are very popular to all those who stay at the Polynesian Resort. The Lapu Lapu is a hollowed out pineapple filled with Myers’s Original Dark Rum and tropical fruit juices, topped with Bacardi 151 Rum. The Back scratcher is made with Bacardi Superior Rum, Myers Original Dark Rum with passion fruit juice topped with Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. Both are some of my favorites. Now that you made it this far, there is one more bar to go to and in my opinion it is a MUST do. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace. Trader Sam’s is located in a back hallway where there is a single door entrance- there may be a line for the Grotto but it’s worth the wait. Once inside, you will be immersed in an interactive Tiki Bar experience like none other. The Grotto is a sight to see with theming and lighting throughout with special effects that occur every time someone orders a signature drink, two of these include The Nautilus
|Lapu Lapu at Tambu Lounge
and the Polynesian Pearl. The Tiki Terrace, which is located outside of the Grotto, features views of the Seven Seas Lagoon and has its own water wall by the seating areas. Here you can order The Spikey Pineapple which is a twist on the Disney favorite Dole Whip, this is a must try. After you’ve enjoyed your drinks, pat yourselves on the back because you have officially completed the Self Guided Monorail Bar Crawl! To reward yourself, if you have timed it right, walk your way out to the Polynesian beach, find a lounge chair and end your night with a bang! The Magic Kingdom Fireworks can be viewed nightly and the soundtrack is pumped in as well.
At each of these resort destinations sample some of the amazing food selections offered at each location! Each bar offers a variety of amazing appetizers, entrees and dessert selections to compliment your drinks. You can do the monorail bar crawl in any order that you want to, and have any drink that you desire, this is just how I did it and what I drank at each location. The beauty of this adventure is that each resort is connected by the monorail so you don’t have to worry about driving from place to place. Hopefully this has helped you discover some of the extra magic that Walt Disney World has to offer. So the next time anyone tells you Disney is just for kids, try and help them understand there is so much more to offer at this magical world.