It is still half under construction, and yet the popularity of Disney Springs is undeniable. The restaurants and shops that are already in place have folks putting time aside in their trips to explore this new entertainment district. Is it reasonable, though, to ask children to spend hours at a place that is primarily built around shopping and eating? The answer is yes. There are a few things that children can enjoy during your hours at Disney Springs, and the best part is that they are free.
POTATO HEAD ASSEMBLY TOWER
Everyone loves Mr. Potato Head, and there is a place in Disney Springs where unlimited potato play is the norm. If you take one step into Once Upon A Toy, the first thing you will see is a Potato Head tower where parts and accessories are dispensed. Kids are invited to grab one of the many potatoes lying around and add different pieces to design the Potato Head of their dreams. Once they are done, kids are free to put the toy down and walk away without making a purchase.
T-REX DIG SITE
Another pit stop for kids is the dig site in T-Rex. It’s an area filled with small pebbles, and young ones are given paintbrushes to “excavate” dinosaur bones beneath the gravel. You would think this activity was reserved for families waiting on tables in T-Rex; however, my kids have been welcomed even when the Cast Members knew we had no intention of dining. The activity can occupy curious children for 20-30 minutes at a time, so this activity can be a treasure in terms of entertaining little ones at Disney Springs.
LEGO STORE BRICK PITS AND RACEWAYS
Here is another hot spot for kids of all ages. LEGO doesn’t expect you to just walk in and buy their play sets. They also hope to stimulate your imagination right in their store. Look for the round tables with “brick pits” in the middle that hold thousands of LEGO bricks. Everyone is free to pick any number of them to create whatever their heart desires (as long as it remains in the store). Outside of the store, there are a few raceway tables for LEGO builders to design vehicles and send them careening down a slope to the other end of the table. You’ll find both parents and children losing track of time at these locations because…well, LEGO.
RAINFOREST SHOW AND TELL
The Rainforest Café comes with some free entertainment. At certain times in the day, Cast Members stand in front of the restaurant with a collection of live, tropical birds. These birds and their escort educate the crowd about their home, the rainforest, and it can be quite entertaining. This display has always held my kids' attention, but if all else fails, kiddos can gawk at the animatronic crocodile that is off to the side.
GHIRADELLI’S CHOCOLATE SAMPLE
Kids are always hungry, and there is actually a place in Disney Springs where they can get their hands on something sweet for free. In the chocolate shop area of Ghiradelli’s, chocolate squares are passed out to every person who walks in the door--kids included. It’s a perfect reward for good behavior, and it costs you NOTHING.
BASIN SCRUB STATION
If hands get a bit messy from the chocolate samples, Disney Springs provides a fun solution. Take those little fingers over to Basin. Smack in the middle of the store, there is a scrub station. Not only will those hands come clean but if they are willing to test one of the sugar scrubs, your kid’s skin will also be as soft as his behind on the day he was born.
Let’s say after testing the waters at Basin, your kid needs a bit more H2O. There is another area where children tend to congregate, and that is underneath the Stitch figure perched atop World of Disney. This statue will periodically spit water onto guests who are strategically placed below, and kids get absolutely silly about this simple event. At any point, you’ll see a number of young ones casually position themselves in the line of fire. The reason is that while getting spit on is not usually a form of entertainment, getting spit on by Stitch absolutely is.
MARKETPLACE WATER AREA
There will always be a kid who isn’t having fun unless he is drenched. There is also a spot in Disney Springs for that child, and it is located by one of the entrances on the Marketplace side of it all. Tucked back in the area near Goofy’s Candy Co. is a splash pad where playful water streams jump in and out of the ground below. The unpredictable patterns of jumping water keep young ones entertained as they run through the shooting streams. Be prepared, though, and bring a change of clothes. Your child (and maybe even you) WILL get soaked.
It’s common for kids to hit a time in the day when they need to decompress, and there is a very peaceful activity in Disney Springs that can sooth. Complimentary boat rides are available. The boats travel between some of the resorts and Disney Springs, and one round trip can be a pleasant and tranquilizing experience for kids. When you feel “the witching hour” approaching, I’d suggest looking for one of the two boat launches located along the water at Disney Springs.
DJ DANCE PARTY
Disney Springs is a hot bed for nighttime activities. One in particular tends to draw the younger crowd. On the Waterside Stage in the Marketplace area, DJ Dance Parties are the happening event with the tyke demographic. Leading with some of today’s most popular dance tunes, energetic DJs teach kids how to boogie and get down after sundown. Let me tell you: they absolutely love it.
Honestly, this list could have a few more items added to it. Live music, photo opportunities, and hunts for hidden Mickeys are only a few of the things that were left out; however, this would be where you come in. Tell us about the free activities that your kids love at Disney Springs in the comments below. We want to hear about them.
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