Disney Springs West Side Update

It’s been a while since we’ve taken a good look at Disney Springs, so I thought it would be prudent to take a walk around and see what’s going on. Despite an “official” opening in May 2016, we’re still quite a ways away from a “final product.” If such a thing will ever exist.

DisneyQuest closed last month with the building’s demolition forthcoming.

Here in the Disneymosphere, we typically wax poetic about whatever closures are upcoming as whatever that thing is becomes our favorite thing until the next thing comes along. But I did spend more time at DisneyQuest over the last six months than I had in the previous six years. The idea behind the interactive theme park was sound, but so little money was invested in improvements that the main experiences were more than a decade out of date. Technology passes us all by at some point, but the idea of having to pay for the privilege each time it happens seems expensive. Whatever “The NBA Experience” is will take its place sometime in the distant future. According to Disney, “The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort will be a one-of-a-kind basketball-themed experience featuring hands-on activities that put guests of all ages right in the middle of NBA game action. There will be immersive NBA video productions and numerous interactive experiences, as well as a restaurant and a retail store.” I could see it succeeding if it was themed entirely to the Seattle SuperSonics.

If you’d like a front row spot for the demolition, you can now pay $10 to park in this lot.

I’m not sure why you would do that unless you have an intense fear of parking garages. And even then, you could park at Typhoon Lagoon across the street “for free” and Uber over here for about $6 each way. Or use the Minnie Van for $20.

Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba will be performed for the last time on December 31st of this year.

The three of you not running AdBlock have probably noticed that about 80% of the advertising on this website is for discounted seats for the French Canadian circus. It’s expected that a new Cirque show will take up residency in the future, though I have not seen confirmation about which show will be appearing. Cirque has a new ice show debuting later this year, though I think everyone’s fear is that we’ll get the Avatar one.

House of Blues has expanded its happy hour over the summer, now running from when the restaurant opens through 5pm.

Unfortunately, live music outdoors is currently slated to start at 5pm. It was always fun to stop by here and relax for a few minutes while enjoying a $4 beer and what is typically inspired music. But you still have the opportunity to stop by at the outdoor bar from 4pm-5pm for a discounted beer, wine, or cocktail. The Smokehouse next door also officially serves beer and wine from 11:30am-4pm and adds mixed drinks after 4pm, but I’ve never had a problem getting a whiskey and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar earlier in the afternoon at the discounted price.

With the Springs’ single, giant bus stop now located behind Planet Hollywood on this side, House of Blues should be convenient for those arriving via bus or for those parking in the Orange garage.

Food-wise, you can probably do better than The Smokehouse.

But the food is typically pretty good and the nachos are quite shareable if you’re looking to nosh while enjoying your drink. It’s certainly a no-fuss stop.

“Crossroads at the House of Blues,” the name of the restaurant, offers an expansive menu:

Relatively speaking, the restaurant arm is priced well and it seems virtually impossible that someone could look it over and not find something that sounds appearling. If this menu was served inside of a Disney theme park, I don’t think they’d be able to keep people out. But at Disney Springs, there’s just so much going on and it might be hard to pull away from some of the trendier, newer options.

Even some of the newer options like Splitsville seem to have faded away from the spotlight. I used to be one of the bigger proponents of Splitsville in the Downtown Disney days – the food is surprisingly good, almost universally served in large portions, with prices lower than you’d pay elsewhere. And that’s still completely true. There’s just so many good options now that sitting inside of a bowling alley seems less desirable when it’s anything less than absolutely necessary. You might notice that the upstairs bar area is now enclosed, perhaps because people weren’t into sitting outside in Florida in August. But that also means fewer opportunities to get away from the crashing sound of ball versus pin. Or in my case, gutter balls.

My last visit to Splitsville was on June 13th after the Cars 3 premier with just my phone in hand. While sushi is probably more proficient at Morimoto, it’s also a lot more inventive at Splitsville. Here, we’ve got a “Volcano Roll with tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, and spicy volcano krab mix” for $16. It’s a lot of food and everything is surprisingly fresh and flavorful.

If you’re like me and don’t value your health, you might instead opt for the $12 “Loaded Fries smothered with queso blanco, bacon, ranch, scallions and love.” Ideally you would hold the love, but this is about as many calories as you can buy for the money. The creamy cheese sauce contrasts really nicely against the salty bacon.

Pizzas are also a really good value, here with the $16 “Firehouse – mozzarella, diced chicken tenders, Buffalo sauce, blue cheese and drizzled with ranch dressing.” It’s a ton of food.

Frozen Drinks here are quite good if you’re looking for something that’s sweet, sugary, and relatively difficult to drink. The $4 dropper of Bacardi 151 helps.

Above is the Gator Bite, which is exclusive to the outdoor bar, but they’ve got a lot of other options that you’re welcome to walk around the Springs holding. The full Splitsville menu is available here.

The West Side’s Wolfgang Puck presence closed in its entirety earlier this month. I don’t think anybody that waltzed up to one of the menus realized that there were three very different things going on in here. If Wolfgang management cared at all about filling the place up, they would have stuck a host or hostess out here to greet potential diners and forward them to the menu of whatever it was that they were looking to eat. Otherwise, people looking for an elevated experience might walk up to the Express menu and see little more than $16 pepperoni pizzas. While someone looking for said pizza moseys up to the Dining Room menu to find $50 seared snapper.

Stepping inside the restaurant was really like turning the clock back to the 90s, though that never seemed intentional.

I ate here the day before the restaurant closed and may or may not write up a review of it. A “Jaleo” will open here at some point in the next few years. To get an idea about what that entails, here’s the menu for the Washington DC location. Otherwise, “discover authentic Spanish cuisine at Jaleo by Chef Jose Andres, including tapas, paella, sangria and more.” I’m looking forward to it as an increase in the number of restaurants here makes it that much less likely that I’ll end up at STK.

Bongos should already be departed, but the giant pineapple has proven to be more resilient than expected. We’ll see if that second Splitsville concept ever replaces Gloria Estefan’s restaurant or if something else is planned. While Disney basically forced Downtown Disney tenants to re-imagine their spaces or ship out, exceptions like Raglan Road and Paradiso 37 were evidently made. Or at least, delayed.

I wish I had more opportunities to order something from their Express menu as a lot of it sounds really good and prices are low. But you virtually never see anybody here and the last time I ordered a sandwich it was obvious that nobody in the kitchen had ever made one before or even knew that it was on the menu.

Retail over here is about what it has been for the last couple of years, though some of the names of the stores have changed.

Sosa must be a family friend of someone high up at the company as it’s virtually inexplicable that the cigar store continues to exist here.

Pele Soccer is the name of what used to be United World Soccer.

For you Bill Ackman fans.

Otherwise, Star Wars Galactic Outpost is over here, as is the Marvel Super Hero Headquarters, Sunglass Icon, Disney’s Candy Cauldron, and Harley-Davidson.

I don’t think anybody can keep up with which Disney Food Trucks will be available or what their menus will look like on any given day.

Currently, they serve this menu. You order in a centralized location then take your receipt to the corresponding truck to pick up the food. We won’t point out the typo in “Spring’s.”

At least they got the punctuation right on the truck itself.

Previously, this would have been Namaste Cafe.

Typically, Fantasy Fare and Tacos are here with World Showcase occasionally setting up shop. The truck that was supposed to be based on the offerings of Hollywood Studios is located at the war zone that is the Caribbean Beach Resort at the moment.

But it is pretty along here at the moment. Perhaps less so once demolition begins.

The name of the helium-balloon-on-a-string has purportedly changed to “Aerophile,” which is the name of the company that operates it.

But “Characters in Flight” is still all over the signage and if you try to go to that URL in the bottom right corner, your browser will return an error.

That’s what’s going on at the West Side. It’s not terribly exciting, which is one reason why we’ve taken a step back from the Springs over the last few months. But there are a few things happening and you might have missed some of the BREAKING NEWS. We’ll get over to Town Center next.

Comments

  1. SteveK says

    Jaleo in DC = mid- to small-sized portions of interesting, high-quality food at fairly high cost. For those with food allergies, Jaleo’s color-coded allergen menus are ciphers–it’s unclear whether you can eat a particular item or if you should avoid it, depending on your allergies. Wait staff is also confused by this approach.

  2. Goofy'sWife says

    We love Jaleo. Even though the original is local, we’d still probably go to the Disney Springs location when visiting WDW. It’s that good.

  3. Mike C. says

    Thanks for pointing out the typo on the food truck menu. This is what makes this site so educational.

    You missed the typo on the Bongo’s menu: A small soda is $4. A large soda is $7.

    If this is not a typo, CANCEL MY DISNEY VACATION NOW. I’ll be in my BUNKER until the madness ends.

  4. Cheapblackdad says

    Bongos is a must for us very trip to Disney Springs. As you mentioned, their express menu is solid. We love the Empanadas.

  5. Angela says

    Jaleo will be a great addition to Disney Springs–I never miss a trip there while in Vegas. Random question–how long has the pineapple been there? I noticed it this past May for the first time?!?

  6. Hootch says

    I have done Jaleo a couple of times and enjoyed sharing tapas with friends. Lots of chances to try new things.

  7. Larry says

    Did no other Grammar Supremacists catch the typo in the House of Blues Happy Hour menu? Michelob “Utlra” is a label I’ve never seen before… but it’s just as well since most Michelob lines give me a headache.

  8. Peggy P says

    I love the food at The House of Blues. They have the best Cheesesteak sandwich I’ve ever eaten. My son liked the jambalaya.

    And thanks for the review on Splitsville. We’ve never been there and want to throw in a couple of new restaurant experiences this trip so had already made reservations for there. Was a little leery since it’s in a bowling alley, so was reassured to hear a good review for it.

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