Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping and dining center at Disney World that's free to enter.
It's a fan-favorite spot, but big crowds and hot temperatures can make it disappointing to visit.
Disney Springs can also be expensive as a result of pricey food and souvenirs.
Disney Springs might be one of my favorite spots to shop and eat at Disney World, but it isn't always magical to visit.
Located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Disney Springs has little shade and dark, asphalt walkways. So when it's 90 degrees outside, you feel the heat.
There are a few shaded paths near stores, but they're small and sunlight still pokes through.
As you walk around, you'll notice that some stores are a bit basic — like the giant M&M shop that sells regular candy for sky-high prices. Some small boxes of the candy, for example, cost upwards of $20.
You might also see some sections under construction for months at a time, like this restaurant that isn't set to open until 2023.
There are plenty of restaurants to choose from at Disney Springs, but they're not always open. Food trucks, for example, don't open until late in the evening on weekdays.
Other food stalls, like carts that sell Mickey pretzels and ice cream, don't have set hours, so you might have to walk for a while until you find an open one. And when you do, prepare to spend a decent amount of money. Pretzels alone cost $7.50.
There are plenty of photo-ops throughout the shopping center, but they're often crowded with resting travelers.
There are also unique activities to participate in, like Amphicar tours. But beware — a 20-minute ride in one costs $125, and if you want to watch from the sidelines, you'll have to get through big crowds of spectators.
If you visit after 5 p.m., expect to see the large crowds grow even more. People flock to Disney Springs as the sun goes down to avoid the heat.
As Disney Springs fills with tourists, lines become extremely long. At popular restaurants like The Polite Pig, where reservations are not suggested, there's often a wait to get inside.
The Rainforest Cafe was one of the busiest restaurants I saw, with a line that extended past the destination's giant volcano just to make a reservation.
Gideon's Bakehouse had an equally long wait, with dozens of visitors waiting to purchase the shop's half-pound cookies.
You'll also have to wait for quick-service snacks, like Dole Whip.
And once you get your ice cream, it might not be too picturesque. Even at 7:15 p.m., the Dole Whip I ordered melted in under two minutes. Quickly, this $6.50 dessert seemed overpriced.
Of course, you could go shopping instead of dining, but you likely won't beat the crowds. When I visited the Disney Springs Sephora in July, I could barely walk through the aisles.
Some of the worst lines are a result of confused shoppers. The World of Disney line was so long that people didn't know where to stand. And at Disney's Christmas store, I waited more than 20 minutes to purchase an ornament before realizing I was at the personalization counter, not the registers.
Some of the designer stores are a bit quieter, but the merchandise is less accessible. After seeing fans gather around a purse in the Coach store, I checked the price. It cost $695.
Whenever you decide to leave, good luck. It's almost impossible to walk through the crowds, and the ride-share pick-up spots can be hard to find. There's only two, and they're at opposite ends of Disney Springs.
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