Who else remembers the days Disney Springs, well, wasn’t Disney Springs? If not, you might be surprised to hear that the shopping and dining complex has quite a bit of background to it. Ready for some Disney Springs history?
Did you know it originally opened in 1975 — and with a completely different name?
Disney Springs is a big part of Walt Disney World (WDW) history. It only opened four years after Magic Kingdom. Yes, the space has been around well before EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom showed up on property.
The area went through several name changes, saw the addition and removal of restaurants and retail locations, and even different themes were introduced as years went on.
Here’s How It All Began
On March 22, 1975, the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened. That means the Marketplace area of Disney Springs has been around for 45 years.
When you enter the Marketplace of Disney Springs, this is the original area that has stood since the beginning.
But, when the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village initially opened, it was described as a “restful shopping atmosphere similar to a New England seaside village,” according to AllEars.Net.
There was a wine cellar and a tobacco shop (how times have changed), along with a pharmacy and even a pet store.
There were other areas for crafts makers to show off their skills and sell products, like candles, pottery, and candy.
Changes Started Happening
A short two years later, as AllEars.Net notes, the name changed to the “Walt Disney World Village.”
It was then in the ‘80s that the village underwent another name alteration and became known as the “Disney Village Marketplace.”
With this transformation, the Disney Village Marketplace saw quite a few expansions, including the now extinct Pleasure Island. For those who can recall, Pleasure Island was strictly for adults and consisted of nightclubs and bars.
Between the addition of Pleasure Island and the major brand names, like Rainforest Café and Lego in the ‘90s, the shopping village started to see a big change.
However, Pleasure Island didn’t stick around for good.
Disney announced in 2008 that Pleasure Island would be closing its six nightclubs with other parts, like the stores and restaurants, remaining open. This area is now known as The Landing.
Soon enough, in 1997, another change came when the Disney Village Marketplace shifted to what many of us once knew as “Downtown Disney.” The area was made up of Pleasure Island, the Marketplace, and the new West Side.
Then Came Disney Springs
Downtown Disney stuck around for quite awhile, until March 2013 when Disney announced plans for Disney Springs.
Disney felt like it was time to reimagine the area.
At the time of their announcement, Disney Springs was described as “a comfortable space where families can enjoy time together and instantaneously feel right at home.”
Furthermore, they had a particular story to tell, “a timeless and vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside towns that dotted the Florida landscape.”
The main story is centered around Town Center, “which is oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area.”
Then, the town expanded to include other “neighborhoods,” AKA the areas that already existed: The Landing, the Marketplace, and the West Side.
With the re-imagination of Disney Springs came the expansion of 75 shopping, dining, and entertainment venues to more than 150 locations.
This was the largest expansion the area has seen thus far and it took about three years. It covers 120 acres!
What A Journey It Was
I told you Disney Springs has gone through quite the journey to become what it is today!
I remember the area as Downtown Disney, which sometimes, admittedly, I miss.
Disney Springs can be a bit overwhelming at times, because it is so large. But, it wouldn’t be Disney if they didn’t go big or go home.
Who knows if anything is in store for Disney Springs’ future. But, Disney never stops trying to make things better, including the guest experience. For now, and despite the current pandemic, I’d say Disney Springs is doing just fine.
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