Last Updated on July 25, 2022 by Heather
On September 29, 2015, the area formerly ‘Downtown Disney’ was renamed to ‘Disney Springs’. The name was not the only aspect that changed about the entertainment center of Disney World, Florida. It went through months of renovation and restructuring and finally became ‘Disney Springs’.
Now the question remains, why did they change Downtown Disney to Disney Springs? A lot of places get remodeled and upgraded, but they do not necessarily rebrand.
The Imagineers at Disney were creating a completely new theme, and it has been centered around a wonderful spring in Florida, while keeping the visitors in mind. And if you know Disney, there is always more to the story!
To learn more about why this change took place read the rest of this article.
Why Did It Change To Disney Springs?
So Downtown Disney had the Pleasure Island as well as the West Side and the Marketplace. All quite entertaining but somewhat haphazard.
What is so amazing about Disney Springs is that it unifies this trio and makes the space more open and welcoming for all demographics. Of course, it lives up to the name because of the “natural spring” that seems to have developed in between the stalls and stores of the Town Center.
The completely new reboot of the place enticed me to see it for myself. As a visitor to both Downtown Disney and Disney Springs, I must say that I was quite pleasantly surprised by the complete change of scenery.
It was as if someone cast a spell and the clear Blue Springs appeared in an instant. It was nothing short of an authentic Florida spring, an enchanting experience indeed!
If you are even half as obsessed as I am, then you would know that the geniuses at Disney did not just decide to drop a beautiful body of water in the middle of the Town square. Nope, they thought of everything.
There is lore and history about the “natural” springs that are nestled by the entertainment district of Disney World. The story goes;
It is said that over a hundred years ago, the early settlers came to this little area and settled. Charmed by the natural stream, they made it a home and built the small town of ‘Disney Springs’. Over time, three more zones developed which we now know as The Marketplace, West Side, and The Landing.
The History of Renaming
This is not the first time this place has been renamed. Ever since the 70s, this little chunk of Florida has gone through makeover after makeover. It started as Lake Buena Vista Shopping village in the mid-70s, which was later taken over by Disney and named Disney Village Marketplace.
By the eighties, it was important to add a night-club or at least something equivalent. Thus, Pleasure Island came to be. Pleasure Island was a subtle nod towards Pinocchio. To refresh your memory, it was the place where Pinocchio and his friends got rowdy and turned into donkeys!
By the coming decade, Downtown Disney came to be and later upgraded itself to Downtown Disney West Side, with new additions of Planet Hollywood and the wonder that is House of Blues.
And now with the addition of new shops and eateries along with the newest attraction, Disney Springs is in full swing as a complete entertainment experience with outdoor shopping and dining.
How Did They Make Disney Springs?
A “natural” spring is not exactly the easiest structure to build. I cannot tell you who comes up with these ideas but hats off, they have outdone themselves.
The springs flowing through the district can be seen best from the bridges that connect the Marketplace and The Town Center. This artificial spring blends in well thanks to the existing lake that surrounds the entire estate.
The accented colors and different shades of stones and glass makes it looks surreal and full of magic. They used technology that helps to paint with pigmented concrete which results in these shades. And this new technology for building “natural” pools has truly given it the earthy yet fairy-tale-like outlook that we expect from Disney.
The Imagineers at Disney put in a lot of intricate details in the construction and design of the area, tickling those of us who marvel at the stories behind every poster and every turn.
Dave Hoffman, a creative director working at Walt Disney explains that they designed the neighborhoods in a way that emphasizes the time period of its development and its purpose, as the legend goes.
For example, the Town Center is based on 1920s architecture complete with tiles of brown and old-timey signs with unused machinery laying around. On the other hand, the Landing is decorated to be the transportation hub.
The Marketplace is designed quite accurately, maintaining the 1930s American architecture, with a World of Disney store. A few minutes away we have the West Side, based on the 50s.
He explains that “the mouse-made springs are at the heart of the town.” As the story goes, this water source was discovered by a man of the fields who settled here. The springs are decorated with palmetto lining and cypress trees on the banks, which is marvelous.
Flickers of light are seen in between the leaves at night, almost as if you just missed a firefly. By nightfall, the water is illuminated by colorful bubbles and floating lanterns as if Ursula herself were rising from the waters.
The Big Why?
While the backstory is interesting, we should know why these changes really took place and how it made things better. Not only is revamping a great marketing strategy, it gives the visitors a much more wholesome experience and a small-town feel. But from a holistic perspective, this is just smarter and a win-win situation for everyone.
For starters, the unity of the area makes it a place you want to visit for its beauty and entertainment. The aesthetic is vintage and offers various fun options for visitors to browse through.
The reconstruction has truly opened the whole area making it so much more accessible. I personally think it helped with the crowding issue that we often hear about in Disney World.
Downtown Disney faced a lot of issues with crowding and parking capacity, mostly because of the unfortunate adjacent placement of Walt Disney World Resort. The planning was done to fix these sorts of problems along with satisfying the visitors’ need for more shopping and eating outlets. For big shoppers like myself, the Marketplace is literally heaven.
The theme is important, but not just to explain the spontaneous spring. In fact, Imagineers at Disney believe that by coming up with this story they could visualize what they want the area to look like. With their imagination, research, and science along with some inspiration from Florida springs and lakes; the idea came to reality.
Hopefully, this answers your question as to “why did they change Downtown Disney to Disney Springs?”. The previous structure needed an urgent pick-me-up, and it always helps to rebrand.
I am especially awed by the effort Walt Disney Corporation puts into keeping the experience fresh and new. It is enchanting and magical enough to get repeat visitors from all over the world.
To find out more check out our full guide to Disney Springs as well before you leave.