Expansion has already begun to turn Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, but one thing that has drove many a guest nuts is finding a place to park. So when Disney started talking about turning Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, many were also wondering are we going to get more parking or are we going to have even more trouble finding a space. After all currently there are parking lots and bus stops scattered almost all around it except what borders the water. The other concern is since construction is going to be expanding the area that means a chunk of the existing spaces will vanish as the project moves along. To help with this Disney has already started construction of one of 2 multistory parking garages. This one should be done by late 2014-early 2015 and will be over by the AMC Theater and Splitsville. The other will be over near World of Disney and is projected for 2016. Some of the regular lots will still be there, in fact Disney is recommending the ones behind Cirque du Soleil. Which put you about 12-15 min walk when you get out of the lot if you are heading to the far side of the Marketplace. The also are offering parking over by Team Disney (across the street from Downtown Disney), the Casting Building parking lot, and the Suntrust Parking Lot. Each of these is about 5 minute walk to Downtown Disney. Overall the garages will offer about 6000 spaces total when completed. The “fun” part of course is that a chunk of parking will disappear as they are being built.
Other recommendations from Disney is if you have an ADR or Ticket to show up early, in fact they suggest getting to the area an hour early. For me if I’m relying on the bus system, which they also recommend doing if you’re staying on site, I start heading that way about an hour and half early depending on how many transfers I need to do. Usually lands me over there with 15-30 minutes to walk over over and arrive early.
Now if you’ve never been to Downtown Disney you may be wondering what the big deal is since it’s not one the four parks. Downtown Disney features an assortment of 40 stores and several quick service and table service dining. It is also home to Splitsville, Disney Quest (multistory indoor arcade theme park), an AMC theater, and Cirque du Soleil. It’s broke into three areas: The West Side, The Market Place, and Pleasure Island. It’s also open to anyone in the Orlando area, so it stays pretty busy, especially in the evenings.
Now for those wondering what is Disney Springs exactly, well that is going to be Downtown Disney’s new name in the future. Modeled after Florida towns of the 1900s, Disney Springs will expand more shopping and dining options to the area. The West Side and The Marketplace will continue on probably with a face lift, and Pleasure Island will be renovated even more (Its been being changed for several years). It will likely be what gets dubbed Town Center. The renovation is expected to be done in 2016.