Back in March, Disney announced a major overhaul of Downtown Disney, which will be rethemed as “Disney Springs.” We don’t know a lot about this new area yet, other than the fact that we will be gaining a lot of new restaurants and shops, and it is set to be completed by 2016. However, Downtown Disney isn’t just expanding, it’s changing. That means that many of the shops and restaurants that are already there could be replaced with something else. So which places should make the cut? It’s a hard choice, but here are my thoughts based on my experiences and what I’ve heard. This is all pure speculation, of course!
Bongos Cuban Cafe – most likely a goner. I haven’t been here before, but I haven’t heard great things about it from people that have eaten there. And for some reason it just doesn’t even register on my Disney dining radar.
Cap’n Jack’s – already gone! This restaurant has closed already, presumably to make way for something new.
House of Blues – could go either way. It’s not one that I hear about all the time as a place to go. But the live music they sometimes have is a nice aspect, so we’ll see.
Earl of Sandwich – staying. It’s one of the most popular spots in Downtown Disney so they have to keep it. Their sandwiches are definitely one of my favorite counter service meals! And I’ve heard they are going to start working on an expansion for Earl, which means it’s probably not going anywhere.
Wolfgang Puck Express – another super popular counter service place that I can’t imagine them getting of. Could they perhaps just keep the one in Marketplace and get rid of the West Side location? Maybe.
Wolfgang Puck Cafe – I just don’t see Disney getting rid of the sit down place if they are keeping the Express. Surely the people at Wolfgang Puck wouldn’t be a huge fan of that.
Fulton’s Crab House – could be in danger. A friend of mine heard from a server that they are worried about being closed, so it’s definitely a possibility. I haven’t eaten here but I’m dying to try it, so I hope they stay open for awhile! Plus, I don’t think they would get rid of the boat. Even if Fulton’s is gone I expect they’d repurpose it in some way.
Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop – there are a number of ice cream spots in Downtown Disney, but this one seems to be the most popular. So I think they’ll keep it around.
Paradiso 37 – could go either way. I feel like this is a hidden gem, in that not many people know about it or go there but everything I’ve heard has been good. If I had to choose, I think it will be gone because they want places that will attract a bigger crowd.
Portobello – my position here is the same as Paradiso 37. I think it could be in trouble. Everything I’ve heard about the food is good, and I’d like to try it. But I read a lot of dining reviews and rarely is this place mentioned.
Planet Hollywood – it will be gone. Has anyone ever had a positive experience here in recent years? I feel like everything I’ve heard is negative. And when I got my vacation documents two years ago there were coupons for Planet Hollywood (not sure if they still do this). If Disney is giving away coupons for one of its restaurants, it’s probably in trouble.
Pollo Campero – rumor is it will be closed to make way for a World of Disney Expansion. I don’t have a problem with that.
Raglan Road – from everything I’ve heard, this place is definitely safe. Of course that’s subject to change, but it’s a popular spot so I see them keeping it.
Rainforest Cafe – I’m stumped on this one. It’s a little redundant with having one at Animal Kingdom as well, but I feel like the Rainforest Cafe experience fits in so well at Disney.
T-REX – I really hope they keep it. It’s a fun experience and we’ve actually had really good food both times we’ve eaten there. However, it may be tough for them to fit it in with the new Disney Springs theme.
Splitsville – safe, for certain. It’s new, it’s popular, it’s also entertainment, so it’s not going anywhere.
I suspect at least half of these places will be gone by 2016. So if so many are closing, what are we getting? Well, here’s just a taste of what’s rumored right now: a character dining experience, Trader Sam’s TikiBar (like in Disneyland), a food truck row, Disney burgers, an “Italian Restaurant” (whether that’s Portobello or a new place), a restaurant called “Walt’s Place,” and a Food Network restaurant. Once again, this is all rumors and speculation but I look forward to seeing what will come to Downtown Disney!
What’s your favorite Downtown Disney eatery? What do you think of all the changes?