Downtown Disney Reopened As Disney Springs

Downtown Disney has officially become Disney Springs. The popular Walt Disney World hotspot is not only getting a new name, but it’s also getting a new look.

As of Tuesday, Sept.ember 29, Downtown Disney has now been redesigned into Disney Springs. The name change was made during a special ceremony at Waterview Park, adjacent to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar bar, which is notorious for its Indiana Jones theme. On Wednesday, the new restaurant by the name of Morimoto Asia was open to the public.

The Tampa Bay Times already reviewed the new two-story 36-foot tall pan-Asian restaurant, which was created after chef Masaharu Morimoto from the Iron Chef fame. Morimoto himself was present at the opening. He told guests how his wife is a huge fan of Mickey Mouse. He also burst out into song and dance, and toasted his new restaurant with a shot of sake. He then carved a giant tuna in front of the eager guests and brought out a 60-foot sushi roll.

Keith Bradford, vice president of Disney Springs, hinted to the Orlando Sentinel that “there’s plenty more to come.” Downtown Disney’s secret project was announced in 2013. Part of the plans included several additions to its dining, entertainment and shopping areas that would be completed by the summer of 2016. The number of venues will rise from 75 to over 150.

Even the official Walt Disney World website says that Disney Springs is still “undergoing an exciting transformation and expansion.” In addition to the renovations underway at Disney Springs, two parking garages, and a new connector to Interstate-4 are also being added. The I-4 ramp will allow guests to drive directly into the Disney Springs parking garage, according to Bradford.

A second garage and the Town Center section of Disney Springs will be opened in the summer of 2016. There will also be four outside complexes connected by a flowing spring and lake. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs said that it’s inspired by Florida’s waterfront towns. He calls the expansion an “exciting, multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort.”

Once expansion is complete, Disney Springs will have double the number of shops, restaurants, and venues that Downtown Disney used to have. The attraction will still be free and not require admission or parking fees to enter. Disney transportation will provide buses and water taxis to and from Disney Springs to Walt Disney World resort areas.

Downtown Disney was originally opened as the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village on March 22, 1975. It has expanded overtime to be renamed several times over the years: Walt Disney World Village (1977), Disney Village Marketplace (1989), and most recently, Downtown Disney (1997).

The addition of Pleasure Island was added on July 21, 1986, which included nightclubs and comedy clubs to compete with Orlando’s downtown district. On June 20, 1995, the expansions in both the Disney Village Marketplace and Pleasure Island combined both into the district formerly known as Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney included three complexes: the West Side, the Landing, and the Marketplace.

Although Pleasure Island was a hotspot for adults who wanted time away from their kids, it started to deteriorate since it was free to the public. The nightclubs closed on Sept. 7, 2008 to make way for new shops and restaurants.

The most popular venues include AMC Movies, the Art of Disney, Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba, Disney Quest, the House of Blues, the LEGO Imagination Center, Planet Hollywood, the Rainforest Café, and the World of Disney.

Downtown Disney is still alive and kicking at the Disneyland Resort. There’s no word on whether or not it will also be expanded into Disney Springs.

Disney Springs will have four complexes, including the Marketplace, the Landing, the Town Center, and the West Side.

What are your thoughts on the new Disney Springs? Are you sad to see Downtown Disney go? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

[Image: The Disney Blog/Twitter]