Downtown Disney Transforms Into Disney Springs!


Denise Preskitt
AllEars® Guest Blogger


Downtown Disney has been in transformation for over two years, with a slew of new restaurants and shops opening over the past months. Signage has also been added through the past year with the moniker Disney Springs, but that name is now official as of yesterday, September 29th, 2015.

This past week has seen the opening of two new venues. Last week, the already extremely popular Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar opened to rave reviews. We were the first in the door when it opened to the public, and we had the opportunity to go back during a media event that included a visit to not only Jock Lindsey’s, but also the new Morimoto Asia. In between the two restaurants, we attended a brief ceremony to cap off the Disney Springs name change.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is themed to the adventures of the pilot to Indiana Jones. The reason it was geared toward the lesser-known character — as opposed to Indiana Jones — is to allow for a new backstory to be written. It gave Imagineers a lot more freedom.

Food and drinks at Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar are outstanding. Not only did the Imagineers utilize their creativity to the fullest, but the chefs did as well. There are items on the menu that I’ve never had anywhere else. We recommend almost everything, and the price point is very reasonable. From the Snack of Ra (a full meal in itself, regardless of everything being an appetizer) to the Rolling Boulder Meatballs, the dishes are served with aesthetics and taste buds in mind.

From Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, we walked outside for the Disney Springs name change ceremony. It was open to the public, between Jock Lindsey’s and the recently opened (and also fantastic) restaurant The Boathouse. ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Senior Vice President Maribeth Bisienere and Walt Disney World Resort President George Kalogridis spoke. Mark Daniel introduced Bisienere, who talked about the making of memories, story creation and even making the parking situation easier. Disney Springs will have 4 sections: The Landing, Town Center, Marketplace and the West Side. Kalogridis said that the project will have provided a total of 1200 construction jobs when everything is complete, and will add 4000 operational roles. He also continued,“One in every 50 jobs in the state of Florida is tied directly or indirectly to Disney.”

The finale of the Disney Springs name change event was the switching of large cards that spelled out Downtown Disney, flipped to say Disney Springs. The weather held out just long enough to see almost the entire ceremony before the rain began, when umbrellas emblazoned with the Disney Springs logo were lifted almost in unison.

The last portion of the media event was visiting Morimoto Asia, which was just one day from opening to the public. Chef Masaharu Morimoto was featured both as a speaker during the opening ceremony, and later showcasing his culinary skills as he filleted a 100-pound tuna. A lion dancer helped open the ceremony, and Bisienere again was a speaker. She welcomed Patina Group CEO Nick Valenti and Chef Morimoto. Morimoto is apparently a huge fan of Mickey Mouse, wearing a Mickey pin and introducing Chef Mickey to the podium. He later proposed a toast over a special container of sake, joined by Kalogridis, Valenti, Bisienere, and Disney Springs Vice President Keith Bradford.

Morimoto Asia is a beautiful restaurant, with chandeliers that seem to go on forever. The restaurant fills the space of the former Pleasure Island Mannequins nightclub. Mannequins was one of the nightclubs I didn’t spend any appreciable time in, so the space feels totally new to me. There are two levels, with an open kitchen on the first level and bars on both the first and second floors.

Chef Morimoto drew a large crowd when a 100-pound tuna was brought to him to filet. With quick agility, the tuna was soon looking like a meal and no longer like a fish. And within a half-hour or so, pieces of sushi with fresh tuna were brought out to guests.

The food we tried were some appetizer items, including Tuna Pizza and Duck Caesar Salad. What we had was tasty, and we look forward to enjoying a full meal at the restaurant in the future!

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