First and foremost, Town Center is a shopping destination, with the likes of Pandora jewellery, Ugg boots, Trophy Room and Under Armour sportswear, and Kate Spade apparel, plus a host of other trendy, well-known brands and a liberal sprinkling of food outlets. But it’s also a visual treat, and we’re pretty sure Guest Services moved over from the Marketplace just to be surrounded by its inviting atmosphere.
Yes, it could be argued there is a definite air of shopping mall about parts of it, and you’ve probably got at least one person in your group whose eyes glaze over at the very idea of another Anthropologie or Vera Bradley. So why should you visit even if the shops don’t draw you in? We’ll tell you why!
Sprinkles Cupcake Shop and Ice Cream Parlor has a cupcake ATM:
Who would have dreamed guests would queue in the heat and humidity of a Florida summer just to buy a cupcake? Apparently Sprinkles did, because they had the foresight to install an alternative to queuing in the form of a cupcake ATM, where sweet treats ‘magically’ appear. Treats like Coffee Fudge Almond, Red Velvet, Cap’n Crunch and Salty Caramel cupcakes. And they’re all available without having to queue up to get into the bakery.
How does it work? First, you show up at the 24-hour ATM with an insatiable craving for something made with sugar. Then, touch the screen to activate it, select the cupcake you want from the pictures on the screen, confirm your choice, swipe your credit card, and the fun begins. A robotic arm moves your pre-boxed cupcake into the dispensing area, the door opens, and voila! You’re in baked-goods heaven.
But you may need to stop at a regular ATM first—the kind that has money—because the cupcakes aren’t cheap. At $4.95 each ($3.95 for a mini and a whopping $52 for a dozen), they’re right up there with the themed cupcakes in Hollywood Studios, but without the cute chocolate characters (Darth Vader cupcake, we’re lookin’ at you!). But it’s one of those, “Why not? I’m on holiday!” moments, so don’t feel guilty. It’s also worth going inside to watch the bakers frosting and decorating trays of cupcakes in their own glass-fronted viewing area.
Disney’s very own Fairytale champagne at Amorette’s Patisserie: What’s not to love about a bakery that serves some of the most imaginative cakes you’ll ever see, plus Disney’s Iron Horse Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvée? Moderately sweet, it’s the perfect accompaniment to one of the patisserie’s splendid signature desserts, whether you’re celebrating something special or celebrating just because it’s Tuesday.
You also have the chance to take pictures of the cakes, and chief among them in terms of pure Disney style are the tributes to Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with chocolate mousse and orange cake for Mickey and lemon chiffon with strawberry mousse and white chocolate for Minnie. Donald and Goofy have their day, too, with Donald’s cake being lemon and blueberry for his sour disposition and his trademark shorts, and Goofy’s having the surprise of Pop Rocks (tiny sweets that ‘explode’ in your mouth) baked into the cake. Again, the pastries aren’t winning the budget-friendly award at $85 for a character cake and $15 for a miniature cake, but they’re absolutely beautiful and worth splashing out for on a special occasion.
Another fun feature here is the back-story. Cast Member Glenn shared the story of Kara and Sara, twin sisters who inherited the bakery that had been in their family for generations. Sara used her talent for baking, Kara lent her artistic talents to the decorations, and together they created something amazing. Take a look at the wall opposite the pastry counter and you’ll see Kara’s works of art. Notice something special about a few of them? Yup, they’re based on characters from Magic Kingdom’s Festival of Fantasy parade.
And, while you’re waiting in the queue for your turn to be served, watch the pastry chefs as they create delicate decorative touches. They really are masters of their art.
700-year old street food: Okay, the food they serve you won’t be that old. But the idea of street food is, and that’s worth celebrating. Iron Chef Morimoto, mastermind behind the fabulous Morimoto Asia which opened at Disney Springs last year, recreates the flavours of his childhood at the newly-opened (and aptly named) Morimoto Asia Street Food. This outdoor option (little more than a large open window with display cases, situated next to the main kitchen at the back of the restaurant) features sushi rolls conveniently wrapped in clear plastic and intended to be eaten by hand; soft bao tacos; chilled sesame lo-mein noodles; octopus fritters; pork egg rolls; and to our great delight, those absolutely sumptuous Morimoto Baby Ribs we raved about in a previous blog.
Burgers that drip juice down your arm: Have you noticed a pattern forming? Disney Springs isn’t all about food, but the restaurants are certainly among the most original offerings in Town Center, and D-Luxe Burger is currently the best of the counter-service bunch. Gourmet burgers are thick and ultra-juicy, cooked to medium—which means a pink centre; ask for well-done if pink puts you off—and covered with imaginative toppings. We tried the Southern Classic (with pimento cheese, fried green tomato, lettuce and bacon) and the El Diablo (with chorizo, fried banana peppers, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno peppers, pepper jack, and chipotle mayonnaise). Fries (chips) come with a choice of dipping sauces, and we heartily recommend both the curry ketchup and the garlic ranch.
There’s a story here, too, and this one concerns the Sinclair ranching family. Naturally, the ranch had a ranch house, and equally naturally, the ranchers had to be fed. They turned the ranch house into a restaurant, expanded a few times, and started feeding the locals (i.e. you). Hence, each of the three dining sections is different, but we strongly suggest sitting outside if the weather cooperates. The waterside setting is fantastic, especially when combined with an alcohol-laced Gelato Shake!
Water, water, everywhere!: We know shopping and dining are the main reasons to visit Disney Springs, but one of the best reasons is the springs themselves. Beautiful blue-green waters bubble up from below, crisscrossed by bridges and bordered by banks covered in lush landscaping. Small lanterns float in one of the bays; tree stumps, cypress knees and tangled roots poke up here and there; and the whole scene around the water is one of timeless contentment. Everywhere you turn there is another fab photo opportunity.
It took some doing to bring Town Centrer into being, and there were some navigational headaches for guests as the Imagineers worked their magic, but the result is worth the wait. We’ll add a bonus sixth reason you must visit, and that reason is: for the pure enjoyment of what Disney’s artistic minds have created.
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