This new column will focus on a widely overlooked demographic in the Disney parks: college students. As a college student myself, I will be writing on behalf of my peers to find the best offerings for the college-age demographic in Walt Disney World. Compared to other age demographics that visit WDW, college students present a niche community that would much rather party in Miami than visit the Disney parks. Taking that into consideration, I will examine the resort complex from top to bottom, finding the best attractions, entertainment, restaurants, shopping and other things best suited to the college-age crowd.
In this, my first article, I will be examining the entertainment and attraction offerings at Disney Springs. The Springs present some of the best offerings for the college-age crowd anywhere in the Walt Disney World Resort. While some of these are closing soon, their future replacements will add on to the current list of entertainment options in the complex. I’m going to highlight seven (yeah, seven) different offerings ideal for the college-age crowd.
- La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil (Final Bow: December 31st, 2017): Arguably the most unique entertainment offering at the Springs, La Nouba has been dazzling audiences since its debut in 1997. The show has been performed over 8,500 times, creating millions of memories for those who attend. Located at the end of the West Side, La Nouba is housed in a custom-built, 1,671 seat theatre, the first of its kind for Cirque du Soleil. Described as a contemporary circus, the 90-minute show features everything from acrobats and aerialists, to trapeeze artists and break dancers. It is a spectacle for the eyes and the mind. La Nouba performs multiple times a week, so check https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/la-nouba for showtimes and ticket information, which differs by seating section. It is truly a must-see show, and while pricey, it is definitely designed for the more adult crowd, perfect for college students, especially small groups, and you have plenty of time to see it before it goes away forever on December 31st.
- House of Blues Music Hall: This is a perfect entertainment offering for any music-loving college student. Located on the West Side, near Cirque du Soliel and across from DisneyQuest, House of Blues has been entertaining millions of guests since the location opened in 1997. Bastille, Mayday Parade, Phoenix, and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness were just a few of the most recent acts to come through in the past few months. The concert hall holds around 2,100 people, and for many, including myself, that creates an intimate feel. Concerts usually start around 7 or 8 pm, giving you much time to find a quick bite to eat before heading for a night of great music. For the latest concert and ticket information, visit houseofblues.com and click Orlando under the Change City tab towards the top left-hand corner of the page.
- DisneyQuest Interactive Theme Park (Closing July 3rd, 2017): Regardless of the fact that this five-story indoor theme park really hasn’t been updated since it opened in 1998, and the other fact that it will be closing forever in less than a month, DisneyQuest is still a fun place to spend a few hours out of the sun at. From classic video games, to interactive attractions, and everything in between, DisneyQuest has many offerings for everyone, even though some might not be functioning. The dark blue building is located across from the House of Blues and near the Cirque du Soliel venue. I’ve been here several times, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m a sports fanatic, so playing the pop-a-shot basketball game and skeeball was great, especially when playing with friends since I’m quite competitive. They have racing games, 1st person shooter-style games, fighting games, classic joystick games, the list goes on and on. Plus, attractions like CyberSpace Mountain and the Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam still bring out the fun and competitive side in anyone. An adult ticket is $45 for the day, but prices might differ due to the imminent closing of the venue, so check the box office outside of the main entrance for prices. Remember, DisneyQuest is closing July 3rd.
- Splitsville Luxury Lanes: For those who couldn’t decipher what this location is by the name, Splitsville is a chain of luxury bowling lanes, combined with an unique dining experience. I will be focusing on the bowling aspect, which is self-explanatory for this article. Having the ability to go bowling in Walt Disney World is a cool experience in itself. This is located across from the Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe and is facing AMC. Like most bowling alleys, they also have billiards tables for those who choose to play some pool after they hit up the lanes. Like most Disney offerings, bowling at Splitsville is a bit pricey, ranging from $17-$22 a person depending on the day of the week, but regardless of price, this is a great place for groups, and anyone who wants to have a night out at the lanes. Prices and additional information can be found at http://www.splitsvillelanes.com/location/orlando/.
- AMC Disney Springs 24: Located on the West Side, facing Splitsville and across from Bongos Cuban Cafe, AMC Disney Springs 24 brings the newest movies releases to you in a sleek and modern interior with rocker-style stadium seats. 3D movies are also offered. The theatre was just upgraded to an Enhanced Theater Experience, with a 20% larger screen from floor to ceiling, creating an immersive and truly unique entertainment experience. The AMC is perfect for college students who want to catch up on the latest releases in a larger-than-life setting. There is also the AMC Fork & Screen Dine-In Theatre, where you can grab a bite to eat and watch a film. Ticket prices vary depending on the time of day and the movies themselves, so check amctheatres.com for further information.
- Characters in Flight: One of the more unique entertainment offerings at the Springs, Characters in Flight takes guests up to 400 feet in the air for an 8-10 minute balloon ride, soaking in 360 degree views of Lake Buena Vista, the downtown Orlando area, and the rest of the Walt Disney World Resort. The balloon is located at the entrance of the West Side, next to the new Starbucks location. A ride will in the six ton balloon will cost you $20, but the views are second to none, especially for more dedicated Disney World fans who appreciate aerial views of Spaceship Earth, Cinderella Castle, and even the Tree of Life. The balloon can hold up to 29 guests, more than enough for you and a few friends to have an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Vintage Amphicar & Italian Water Taxi Tours: While very different from the rest of these other offerings, the amphicar and water taxi tours gives guests a different perspective of the Disney Springs complex from the middle of Lake Buena Vista. Guests also get a closer look at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, located just across the water. Located on the dock right next to The Boathouse restaurant in The Landing, the tours take place daily from 10 am-10 pm. This is definitely designed for small groups, 2-4 people at the most. From going on the boats between Port Orleans Riverside to the Marketplace, it’s really cool to see the Disney Springs skyline, with all the different storefronts and other offerings. The tours are much more intimate, which provides for a better experience. The tours are pricey, $125 for a guided tour, but split between a group of friends, the experience ends up being well worth it.
These are the just the tip of the iceberg for things to do around WDW, so remember that Walt Disney World is for everyone, no matter who you are.
Next week’s article will focus on shopping and dining around Disney Springs, so stay tuned.