Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Why would I, as a non-shopper(I really don’t care to shop), write about a shopping/entertainment complex?  Because just going window shopping in this massive center is an experience in itself.

There is free parking available, but it is a good distance from the main action, crowded and after you have walked the entire shopping complex and back to your car you might wish you had rode the transportation system from the parks or one of the resorts to get to it.  Especially considering the traffic.

We drove over on this fall trip, but wised up in 2017 and parked for free with our annual pass at the transportation ticket center.

There are no direct buses from the transportation ticket center to Disney Springs so you will either need to take a boat or monorail to a park or resort and catch the bus for Disney Springs from there. 

In the past we have rode a boat from one of the resorts to the shopping complex, but I am not certain that mode of transportation is still available.

To say Disney Springs is breath taking in just its sheer size and design would be an understatement. 

What other shopping complex do you know of has not only all the top brands, but dinosaurs, a volcano that erupts periodically, a giant Lego sea monster, giant tinker toys, The House of Blues, Disney Quest, Circque du Soleil and the Earl of Sandwich?

There is also an amphitheater where free concerts are performed.

Right after we left Florida they had a holiday drone show in the air over the lake that we would have loved to see.  Hopefully it will be going on again in 2017.

We spent all afternoon and most of the evening there in the fall just walking around and trying to soak it all in. It had grown immensely since the last time we had spent any real time at all there so we were gob smacked at all the new construction.  Including two, soon to be three parking garages.

Our late lunch that day was at the Earl of Sandwich where we each got a very good sandwich. The sandwiches are large enough we could have done quite well with splitting one.  I ended up taking half of mine back to the camper to eat the next day. 

The prices are not that bad, especially if you have an annual pass because they do honor it for the discount.  I may be wrong, but I believe this shop is also on the various dining plans.

The sandwiches, custom t-shirts for us (more on these in a minute) and new parts for our Mr. Potato Head collection at Once Upon a Toy, were our only purchases that day.  The rest of our time was just walking and taking photos.  Considering neither one of us is big on shopping and it took us a full day to visit the complex you can imagine how long it will take you if you are into shopping.

Of course you might not be the photo bugs we are and that would speed things up considerably.

About the Mr. Potato Head parts.  Whether you collect potato heads like we do, or you just want a single one Once Upon a Toy has a different approach to how you purchase your potato head and/or parts.

You are given a box that you can pack as tight or as loose as you want and as long as the top closes, even if it is just barely closed, it is $20 plus tax, and in our case less the annual pass discount.

The cast members there will even give you hints how to get the most for your money.  Over our many visits here is what we have figured out.  Think the grains of sands concept. 

You know the one where you fill a jar with rocks, but you can still fit in grains of sand.
If you are buying a Mr. Potato Head body, take advantage of the fact the body is hollow and there is a trap door on the back of the body.  Fill this cavity with smaller pieces nestled inside middle sized pieces inside larger pieces.

Then when you have that packed as tight as you can get it you place the body in the box that you have filled the bottom corners in the same manner.  Fill the entire box all the way to the top around the body until you can barely latch the slotted tabs that form the top. It doesn’t matter if your box bulges and is mishapened, as long as you can latch those tabs. You will be amazed how much you can fit in that small box.

Don’t need a body, even better.  Use the smaller to middle, to larger concept for all the parts and fill the box entirely with parts.  It is all the same price whether you get a body or not.

The challenge of getting the most parts as possible for your $20 is actually kind of fun.  Be prepared to unpack and repack your box a few times to get it as tight as possible.  There is no rush, take as long as you like.

Don’t need a lot of parts?  Just need to replace an ear or an arm, or other part?  You can do that too, for $2.50 a piece.  No need to tell you which is the better deal.

We did of course go into the Christmas shop, and the huge World of Disney Store, but found nothing we absolutely couldn’t live without at these locations. 

The Disney photographers are there too, so be sure and get those special photos that your annual pass includes.

Now about those custom t-shirts.  There is a store, Design-a-Tee just across from the Christmas store at the far end of the complex where you design your own custom t-shirts.  We tend to do this at least once every trip.  The shirts run about $25 each and during the time we were there we did get an annual pass discount on our purchase.

Here is how it works.  Inside the shop are individual computerized ordering stations.  They are self-explanatory, but there is always a friendly cast member nearby to help you if you have any questions.

You start by choosing what type of t-shirt you want, long sleeve or short sleeve. 
Then you choose your size.  Never fear, they have example shirts there in the shop you can try on if you are unsure of the size.

 One of the reasons we love doing this is they carry the larger size t-shirts in this Disney shop.  While t-shirts are sold everywhere on the Disney properties what few XXXL or larger shirts they get in sell out quickly.  We have never had any trouble getting the larger shirts here.

Next the color (I may have two and three reversed, but both steps happen before you choose your design.)

Once these decisions are made the real fun begins. 

You choose your character or your theme that you want in your main design.
I went with Christmas and Chip ‘n Dale.  Gary chose Carl from the movie UP!

Then you add your lettering.  This can be a lot of fun.  As long as you keep it clean, the staff does have the right to refuse to create anything objectionable, you can put whatever you like, in whatever format, lettering and color you like.

Once you are satisfied with your design you have the option of either placing the order or cancelling it.

A cast member goes over your order, checks your spelling and grammar (we had a question about the spelling of a  word on one of ours), takes your payment and gives you a receipt.

You are then free to leave the area for the time it takes them to produce the exact shirt you ordered.  Generally less than an hour. This is usually when we go look through the Christmas store across the way and/or visit the adjacent restrooms.

Once you come back they show you the shirt and make certain you are happy with it.  Then they bag it up in a t-shirt material drawstring bag similar to the oh so popular drawstring backpacks, one for each shirt if that is what you desire (they have the store logo on them) and you are on your way.

These are our 2016 t-shirts.  There are no others on the planet exactly like them, and that makes us very happy.   BTW they are quality t-shirts, not cheapos.

So whether you like to shop or not, if you want a day of doing something away from the parks there is a lot to see and do at Disney Springs.

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