When we tell our kids we’re going shopping at Disney Springs, we’re usually greeted with groans. While they love getting stuff from Disney Springs, they seem to dread the idea of actually shopping. That has meant that we have had to come up with new ways to keep them from groaning and whining about the inevitable day we spend at Disney Springs.
If you’re looking to get actual shopping done (Knoxville isn’t known for it’s great shopping, so we often do a fair bit of shopping while we’re there), it’s best to go early. It can be incredibly crowded in the evenings, once people are done with the parks for the day and are preparing for dinner at one of the numerous restaurants around. So if you want some attention and better service, go early. Everything opens up around 9 or 10, with the lunch restaurants opening around 11:30. I’ve jogged there in the mornings and it is completely empty around 9am, making it a much quieter, more relaxing experience. Now, if you want to experience the night life, definitely go at night and see the live music, but understand that lines will be longer and service will be a little less attentive in the shops.
- Bring a change of clothes or a bathing suit (or just buy something new) for the splash pads. There are several throughout the Disney Springs area and is a great way to cool off when it gets hot (which is pretty much all the time).
- Build a car at the Lego store and race it. There’s no time limit and Starbucks is right next door for the parents. Kids can rebuild their cars as many times as they want. It can get pretty crowded in the evening, so we recommend doing this in the morning and early afternoons, but it is shaded. Many times, my husband and I grab a cold brew and let the kids build until we finish our coffees.
- The stage across from World of Disney has various shows throughout the day and night. From DJs to live streams of the Descendants 3 to dance recitals, there’s always something going on around this big stage. Leah has stopped many times to watch other dance companies perform and I think it’s a goal of hers to be up there herself some day.
- Go wandering through the World of Disney and buy fun things for your kids young and old. You can get nearly anything you need – underwear, salt shakers, jewelry, stuffed animals, t-shirts, custom Magic Bands, and toys, so you will undoubtedly find yourself walking out the doors with your arms laden with something to keep the kiddos occupied.
- Ride in the hot air balloon (additional fee). We’ve never done this, but it’s something we get asked about a lot from the kids. Since Florida is so flat, you get a great view from up there, but there is an additional fee associated with this activity. (Note: if you’re a DVC member, there is a discount).
- There’s an interactive water feature in the middle of Disney Springs where you can pump water up and make a waterfall (across from the lime garage walkway). Oddly, my husband seems to be the one who likes this the best, but nevertheless its a fun way to teach them a little about engineering.
- Take the amphibious cars at the Boathouse (additional fee). Another kitschy activity that has an additional fee, this activity lets you go out in the middle of the lagoon and see Disney Springs from a different vantage point.
- Keep an eye out for live music – the bands, singers, and groups are truly all top-notch. We’ve seen Dickensian Christmas carolers, Peruvian pan flutes, cover bands and more during our visits.
- Eat! There are food options for nearly everything. Need a quick bite? We love the pizzeria at Maria and Enzo’s. Want fine dining? Go to Morimoto Asia. Sweet tooth? The Cupcake ATM at Sprinkles or the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain can’t be beat. There is a meal for every palate and price point available. Pro tip: if you can’t find a reservation time on the MyDisneyExperience app, try hopping on Open Table. You might find that same day reservations are available on Open Table where they aren’t on the MDE app.
Did we miss anything? What keeps your kids occupied and entertained at Disney Springs? Let us know in the comments.