Disney with Special Needs: Guide to Disney Springs

If you ventured with me on my trip report, you have already visited Disney Springs with my family. If you haven’t, and even if you have, I wanted to do another check-in with this sometimes-overlooked feature of a Disney vacation and give you some superhero tips for surviving a visit to this shopping-dining-entertainment extravaganza.

Now for one of my infamous disclaimers. I know that Disney Springs isn’t for everyone. There are some people who have a vision that a trip to Disney should only mean the theme parks or who don’t appreciate non-Disney shopping opportunities that fall under the “Disney” umbrella. I am not one of those people. I think that vacation is all about what makes you happy and shopping makes some people very happy. I would also like to point out that Orlando does actually have people who live there and enjoy a little sprinkle of pixie dust when they go to dinner or head for back to school or holiday shopping. Disney Springs is the perfect destination for both groups. Moving on.

Visiting Disney Springs like a superhero.

Use Disney transportation. You probably already know by now how much I love Disney transportation when it comes to getting to and from the parks, but that also continues on for Disney Springs. You can hop on a bus to the district from your resort (and even a boat from some) and in the late afternoon you can grab one from the parks. Quick tip, though. Don’t expect a bus from Disney Springs back to the theme park. There is no bus transportation from Disney Springs to any of the theme parks to prevent the majorly unethical skipping of the parking fees at the park lots. Just prepare to head back to your resort after visiting Disney Springs. With this service you will know exactly where the bus dropped you off so you know where to pick it back up. This can be invaluable when it comes to the anxiety that can come from arriving to a new, and very large, place

Pick your parking spot carefully. If you are going to drive to Disney Springs, do a little research before you park. There are several parking decks and the one that you choose will impact where in the complex you arrive. If you have a specific place where you want to visit, you will want to choose the deck that is closest to that spot. This is especially important if you have a reservation at one of the restaurants or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Once you’ve parked, take a note of where you are and what is close to the deck you chose so that you can find your way back. Don’t worry. There are Cast Members scattered about who can help you find where you need to go

Consider a practice run. If you have never been to Disney Springs or haven’t been since the new sections opened up and you have a reservation, take a cue from us and consider a practice run to the district before the day of your reservation. We didn’t get a chance to do that before our T-Rex dinner reservation and things were a little touch-and-go when we got there. Fortunately we had been to Disney Springs before and we able to navigate our way through the new sections to find it, but it was a little nerve-racking. After dinner, though, we went on a quest to find Bibbidi Bobbidi so that we wouldn’t risk being late for Avalon’s appointment. Some of you know how the rest of that night went, so we’ll leave it at that, but I’ll say that finding the Boutique was very comforting when it came time to bring her for her makeover

See the iconic images. Yes, Disney Springs is chock-full of stores that have absolutely nothing to do with Disney and could probably be found in any number of shopping districts. There are plenty more spots, however, that are distinctly Disney and super magical. Seek out these spots and see the amazing images that show that this is most definitely a Disney destination. Check out Maleficent’s dragon made entirely out of Lego bricks and the similarly-made sea monster that I always point out as proof that I shouldn’t be riding anything with water. Look for hidden Mickeys. Check out the restaurants and treats (including the vegan bakery!!) that are uniquely Disney. There are incredible details everywhere that are just waiting for you to discover them. This helps keep me grounded and stops me from feeling out of control as I would surrounded by just normal shops and restaurants

World of Disney is massive. That doesn’t sound like a tip, but it is. I, of course, was completely thrilled to visit the biggest Disney store on Earth, but I was not prepared for the sheer size and complexity of the store on my first visit. In fact, I walked inside, turned right back around, and walked back out. It was that tremendously huge and overwhelming. Once I got a hold of myself, though, I was able to head back in and do some exploring. Take note that the entire store is divided up into little bitty “shops”, making it easier to navigate. Look up at the ceiling and you’ll notice images that will help you find your way. Concentrate on each section as a separate entity and it will help to make it feel much more manageable

Visit the PhotoPass stops. We already know that pictures of your Disney vacation are the best thing ever and that I am the biggest proponent of Memory Maker. When you are visiting Disney Springs, make sure that you keep your eye open for these photographers. Tap your MagicBand and you’ll get your pictures just like you would in any of the parks. Be sure to look for the special seasonal backdrops!

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Taryn was born and raised, and still lives in Richmond, Virginia. Neither she nor her husband ever had the opportunity to visit Walt Disney World when they were children, but when their daughter Avalon came along, they decided she was not going to follow in their footsteps. They brought Avalon for the first time when she was 3 and have been hooked ever since. Now along with Taryn’s mother and equally Disney-loving older brother, they go “home” at least once a year, and by the time she is staring longingly at Cinderella Castle from the ferry on their last night, Taryn is well on her way to planning the next trip. As a group consisting of two adults with Asperger’s, including one who is also vegan, a very accommodating husband, an only child, a senior, and a service dog, they are a pretty special family, but Taryn is excited to show that the World really is The Most Magical Place on Earth and that there is a place there for everyone. When she isn’t thinking about her next Disney adventure and trying to come up with a Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party costume that will beat her Oozma Kappa nerd look, she is a professional blogger and novelist.

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