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Theme World: Traffic Agony To Ease at Disney Springs

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October 9, 2015
Disney Springs Springing Up
Traffic Agony To Ease

Good news for shoppers and those who hate traffic on Buena Vista Drive.

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Just a week-and-a-half after a ceremony transforming Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, News 6 has confirmed a new off-ramp from I-4 leads you right into the Orange parking garage is now open for guests.

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Forgive my drawing skills here, but this is approximately the path. Take the Epcot exit from I-4, and the offramp leads you past the Team Disney building right into the upper floors of the completed garage.

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The first of two pedestrian bridges is also now in place to let walkers safely cross the ever-expanding Buena Vista Dr.  See the old-fashioned-looking building next to the bridge? It's really new. It will ultimately support the story that the ginormous shopping/dining/fun facility started off as a real-life Florida small town. On a more practical side, that building is also a support facility for Disney Springs cast members.

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From the top of the Orange garage, you can see there is still a ton of construction underway. Disney isn't kidding when it says the expansion will double the size of the old Downtown Disney.  You're looking at the former parking lot -- soon to be Town Center.

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And at the edge of Town Center, you can see construction on the actual "springs" water feature.
 Disney's gambling hundreds of millions of dollars here, and there are already signs it's going to pay off.


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From the ground -- here's another look at construction. Disney concept art conveniently labels this building "restaurant."
 I believe it will be the location for "Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine."
That just-announced project is a farm-to-table concept from celebrity chef Art Smith.
Before TV appearances, authoring books and serving as Oprah's private chef, Smith got his start working at Disney.

It's not too far from Disney Springs' other restaurant with star appeal.
 

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Japanese Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto bowed to Mickey -- then welcomed some of the beauties who are the face of "Morimoto Asia"  I was fortunate to be on-hand for the dedication September 29th.

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The inside is stunning to look at. These light fixtures also look a bit like an elegant version of fishing traps. Seafood -- especially high-quality sushi -- is on the menu.

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Upstairs -- these bottles pay tribute to the building's "past" as the "Disney Springs Bottling Plant." Actually "Morimoto Asia" took over the former "Mannequins Dance Palace" from the Pleasure Island days. And the new fake "bottling plant" backstory replaces Mannequins' older "boat canvas manufacturing plant" back story. Progress. Eh?

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The Disney Springs logo has been popping up everywhere in the former Pleasure Island.

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 Now known as The Landing, there's not much left people will remember.

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STK Steakhouse is rising up on the flattened Comedy Warehouse spot.

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Just across the street, that skeletal structure is all that's left of The Adventurer's Club -- soon to become "The Edison."  That highly-themed restaurant/bar should open next year.

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"Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar" is open now. Its backstory involves Indiana Jones' pilot. This use of an obscure Lucasfilm character isn't the only rarity here: Disney actually owns and operates "Hangar" itself. Most of the new shops and restaurants are run by Third-party companies.

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The inside is rustic, but welcoming with propellers for fans, strong drinks, and appetizers.

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When I was there recently, people were scrambling for the chance to hang out inside this diving bell.

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Personally, I liked the less-claustrophobic outside area, featuring dining on and around Jock's ship "The Reggie"

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It's a great place to watch the Amphicars sailing from The BOATHOUSE restaurant next door.
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 And as I helped News 6 reporter Erik Sandoval and photojournalist James "Goose" Gosselin with their live reports last week, I realized  there are worse places to spend a sunset.

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 I also give high marks to the food at Hangar. It's clearly not an afterthought.  I especially liked the "Good Dates" (dates stuffed with goat cheese with almonds), "Dr Elsa's She-Deviled Eggs" and the "Snack of Ra" dipping plate.
Have a great weekend.