Hello, Sunday! It is so nice to see the sun again this morning. I hope you’re all having a great weekend. I feel like I’m finally caught up on sleep and getting my sea legs under me again, so to speak.
I was super excited to be invited by Walt Disney World Resort to travel to Florida earlier this week and experience the new and improved Disney Springs with its world class shopping, dining, and entertainment along with a select group of bloggers and social media influencers.
You don’t have to say “shopping and dining” to me twice, so I happily accepted their invitation and started figuring out logistics and planning what to wear. (Naturally!)
I didn’t know if I’d know anyone, but that has never stopped me from going on one of these trips before. Plus I knew I’d be with Cyndi, and we can always make our own party, ha! As it turned out, we knew no one, but of course everyone was friendly, and we quickly made some new friends.
Cyndi and I arrived exhausted but excited on Monday morning after two verrrry early morning flights. Somehow I managed to sweet talk the gentleman at the registration desk into getting into our room early so we could rest and change. They put us up at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. Ironically, my parents are DVC members, and Saratoga Springs is their home resort, so I have actually stayed there before.
Saratoga Springs is one of their luxury resorts so everything is very nice and upscale. It’s a Victorian-style resort hotel that is modeled after the historic Saratoga Springs, New York. This was a retreat famous for its spas and horse racing so the equestrian theme is prominent throughout the resort. It is also the largest of all the Disney resort properties, so Cyndi and I spent much of our time trying to find our way around. At least we got a lot of exercise!
We spent our first afternoon by the pool near our hotel building (there are 5 different pools on the Saratoga Springs property) and then that evening we walked over to The Turf Club Bar & Grill for a wonderful dinner on their outdoor patio with a view of the golf course. Disney World hasn’t always been known for great dining, but they are improving in this area, and The Turf Club is definitely one of their better offerings.
We spent every morning on our balcony with coffee and our computers, overlooking the peaceful pond in the back of our building. It was so peaceful and serene, a great way to start the day.
Tuesday morning, we got up and hopped a bus over to Disney Springs for a day of programming. I will hand it to Disney; as usual, they planned everything impeccably. I’ve been on trips like this where they absolutely wear you out with an overpacked schedule, but this event was planned very efficiently. They managed to give us a complete tour of the property along with a few special experiences not many have at Disney World, and then they gave us adequate free time to explore on our own.
For those somewhat familiar with the Disney parks, Disney Springs is Downtown Disney renamed and reinvented. I’ve been to Disney World quite a few times over the past 10 years both with my family and with various social media/blogging trips, but I think I only went to Downtown Disney once. I remember a few cute shops that they don’t have anywhere else on Disney property, but otherwise it isn’t a place I made a priority to visit when I was down there. Well, that has changed!
Disney Springs is now home to over 150 offerings ranging from Disney-themed shops to intimate boutiques to stunning flagship locations for big name brands. Many of their shops offer exclusive products only available at Disney Springs. They also expanded their World of Disney store, making it the largest Disney character store in the world.
Disney Springs now houses shops like Zara, Anthropologie, Lucky Brand, Kate Spade, Vince Camuto, Francesca’s, Lilly Pulitzer, Sephora, and many more familiar brands (the full list of new shopping is listed above) and all in an absolutely stunning Town Center modeled after an early 20th century Florida town. Even if you don’t care for the shopping, it is simply a beautiful spot to walk around and soak in the Florida sun.
If the shopping additions weren’t enough, they also updated their food and beverage options to include the likes of Morimoto and Chef Art Smith (personal chef to Oprah Winfrey.)
We had lunch at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, a restaurant serving up traditional southern cuisine with the vast majority of ingredients sourced from local farms, ranches or fisheries. It was absolutely amazing (and I am persnickety when it comes to food.) This puts Disney dining at a whole new level.
In addition to the shopping and dining, Disney Springs boasts a huge AMC 24 movie theater (called Fork & Screen because you can order food and drink to be delivered to your seat while you watch), a bowling alley, and it is still the location for Cirque de Soleil.
They also have a photo studio located right beside the Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutique, and in addition to getting your child’s picture taken after she is transformed into a Disney princess, you can bring your family or friends and have your picture superimposed over your favorite Disney movie background. We were each given the opportunity to try it out, and Cyndi and I picked Muana. It’s kind of cute!
One of the highlights of the event was meeting one of Disney’s brilliant Imagineers, where we heard all about how Disney Springs came to be. As with everything at Walt Disney World Resorts, there is a story to be told here, and the attention to detail is mind-boggling.
Disney Springs is inspired by Old Florida’s turn-of-the-century riverfront towns that popped up around the natural freshwater springs, and the story goes that this welcoming waterfront town grew over time into four neighborhoods: Town Center, The Landing, The West Side and The Marketplace. The West Side is the oldest section with Cirque de Soleil, the movie theater, bowling alley, etc. The Landing is where many of the finer restaurants are located overlooking Lake Buena Vista, The Marketplace is where many of the larger stores are located, like The Lego Store, Marketplace Co-op, and World of Disney. And Town Center is the newest addition, housing the majority of the shopping.
After an afternoon of shopping and exploring Disney Springs on our own, we all gathered for a closing Happy Hour on the deck at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, a restaurant inspired by the 1940s airplane hangar turned dive bar and ex-home of Indiana Jones’ sidekick and pilot. Once again, Disney’s theming was on point. The details of this venue were impeccable, and the drinks weren’t half bad either. (I recommend The Scottish Professor.)
After the wrapping up the event and saying our thank yous and good-byes, Cyndi and I grabbed cold drinks and nachos and sat outside at Dockside Margaritas overlooking Lake Buena Vista and enjoyed the live music while decompressing and hashing over the day. After resting our weary feet for an hour or so, we bypassed the bus and the boat and trekked back to our room at Saratoga Springs. I wish I’d brought my Fitbit. I would LOVE to know how many miles I walked on Tuesday!
While our event ended Tuesday night, Cyndi and I opted to stay an additional day so we could shoot a few outfits with a local photographer and visit the theme parks.
We made reservations at Monsieur Paul in Epcot for dinner on Wednesday night, and I made sure to get a FastPass for Soarin’. We stopped on the way into the park to say hello to Daisy Duck, and we also rode the Spaceship Earth, which is always fun albeit on the slower side as far as rides go.
shirt (old) // similar shorts (similar for less) // comfort sandals c/o The Walking Co.
After Soarin’, we made a run through the park and over to the Monorail, switched at the Transportation and Ticket Center, and then headed over to the Magic Kingdom in an attempt to catch their new Happily Ever After fireworks show. We barely caught the second half, and our view wasn’t great, but it was fun at least to be there.
Of course, the park was mobbed, and it took us quite a while to make it back to our hotel, but I’m glad I got to at least walk down Main Street and see Cinderella’s castle. No trip to Disney World is complete without that.
While experiencing the new Disney Springs was cool, and I’m glad I got a few hours at Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, the best part of the trip was definitely spending it with this lady.
I could have never known at that blogging conference 6 or 7 years ago, when Cyndi came up and introduced herself to me, that we would one day be come such good friends and have so many amazing experiences together. This is just one example of the many ways blogging has blessed my life over the years, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Big thanks to Walt Disney World Resorts for hosting us this week!
23 thoughts on “Coffee Talk | Disney Springs Edition”
Hi Jo-Lynne… love your blog… look forward to reading it everyday! Can you tell me which sandals you are wearing in that picture with Daffy Duck? I’m looking for some comfortable and stylish sandals for the summer that are good for walking… thank you!
Sure, they are these from The Walking Co. and they are fantastic: http://bit.ly/2qqpTOh
I just Love It!!! Great presentation and great friend to have alone your trip. Glad you and Cyndi had fun.
Fantastic recap of your Disney trip! Thank you for sharing with us and giving us a taste of what y’all experienced. Have a blessed day!
FYI- Cirque will be closing December 31. Haven’t heard what will be taking its place, but knowing Disney, it will be fantabulous!!
Oh, wow, that is big news! I saw it there about 10 years ago. It was amazing.
Awesome recap and it makes me want to be a blogger! Although I know it’s a lot of hard work ~ you gals have certainly earned it. It’s always nice to love and enjoy what you do for a living and even better when you get to do it with some one else who feels the same. I only follow you and Cyndi so it warmed my heart seeing you two together!
Blogging is definitely a great mix of work and fun! 🙂
Such a great post! Thank you! Its been 20 years since I went to Disney, it may be time for another trip!
I really like the white shorts you were wearing. Is it possible that you can send me a link where I can get them? They look just the right length. Love your blog by the way! Thank you for sharing.
They are a few years old – I think I got them on an end of season sale b/c they are AG and typically pretty pricey. AG is having a 25% off sale right now, and I think they are these or at least very similar: http://bit.ly/2rlDjvP
That was a perfect recap!! It was so much fun and I’m so thankful I was able to go with you. I think we did more laughing than anything else which pretty much makes for a great trip.
We sure did. We need to bring someone with a built-in GPS next time tho. 😉
You work so hard!! What a pleasure it is to read your blog. Its been 20 years since my hubby and I have been to Disney World. Perhaps we need to go back again! So glad you and Cyndi had a great time!
It has changed a lot! 🙂
Love your MacBook case. What brand is it?
I love it too! I got it here: http://bit.ly/2rsvpB0
Thank you for the trip recap. Love all the details. Disney World is on my bucket list!!
Looks like a fun trip. I’m glad you and Cyndi could experience it together
Enjoyed reading about your trip & loved the pictures!! So glad you & Cyndi got meet up & have fun ????
Cyndi…..just read this post. Loved it. Thanks soooo much for all the great details. One post to save for sure if we ever get that way again. Our last and only trip to Disney World was in 1986. My first born was only 6 months old. (She’s 30 now.) Many years ago. We loved it though. Loved seeing the pictures. 🙂
They were still working on DS when we were there in August. If we head back there for Star Wars Land, I definitely want to head back there.
That all sounds like fun — it makes me wish I was more of a travel blogger instead of a food/health blogger!
Hey, you mentioned that you wish you’d had your fit-bit so you knew how many steps you got that day, well if you had your iPhone on you, just look in the health app and you can go back and check it for that day! It’s the app with the pink heart and it’s on every iPhone. 🙂