The M&M, Coca-Cola and NBA Experience – Disney Springs
Disney Springs, Walt Disney World’s sprawling entertainment district, is known for its amazing dining and shopping. So much so, in fact, that the hotspot draws crowds of tourists and locals alike during the balmy Orlando evenings. And best of all, there’s no expensive theme park ticket required!
But, don’t limit yourself to just snagging a dinner reservation at one of the many Disney Springs restaurants, wandering around looking for souvenirs, and listening to live music with a cocktail or Starbucks in hand after a long day at the parks. We’d argue that there’s enough to see and do here to make an entire day out of it. There are two stores in particular, the M&M and Coca-Colastores at Disney Springs, which elevate their shopping and dining experiences into an attraction in and of itself. The NBA Experience, meanwhile, is a full-on destination and an NBA fan’s dream, with enough activities to keep you and the rest of your team busy for a couple of hours and, of course, an attached NBA store.
Wondering whether the NBA Experience, Coca-Cola Store, and M&M’s at Disney Springs are worth a visit for your next Disney vacation? Keep reading, as we break down everything you need to know about some of Disney Springs’ most unique shopping, dining, and recreation opportunities.
Getting to Disney Springs
Located near the edge of Disney property directly off of Interstate 4, getting to Disney Springs is usually pretty simple and convenient. Complimentary parking is available in one of the multiple garages, with one I-4 exit feeding directly into the area’s Orange Garage, along with some surface parking. With each place located in or next to the West Side section of Disney Springs, this is the parking ramp we recommend you use if you are driving and mostly plan on visiting the NBA Experience, Coca-Cola Store, or M&M Store. Disney Springs is huge, so it’s best to park in the garage closest to where you plan on spending most of your time to save yourself a lot of time, hassle, stress, and steps.
Aside from driving, there are plenty of other transportation options available to get to and from Disney Springs. Disney’s complimentary busses pick up and drop off guests near Town Center at Disney Springs and head to the various Disney resorts, as do the Minnie Vans. Alternatively, you can even catch free river ferry at one of the Disney Springs boat launches to Port Orleans, Old Key West, or Saratoga Springs – or simply hop on to get from one end of Disney Springs to the other. Of course, if none of those are possible, you can also call an Uber, Lyft, or taxi.
Disney Springs and COVID-19
Unfortunately, as with the rest of Walt Disney World, things currently look a little bit different at Disney Springs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like everywhere else on property, passing a temperature check is required before being allowed to enter. Masks must be worn at all times unless you are eating or drinking and stopped and socially distanced. Inside stores and restaurants, stickers are placed on floors to assist with social distancing. Plus, most, if not all, stores are capping their capacity to be consistent with health and safety guidelines, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait while to get in.
While most of Disney Springs has reopened, there are several restaurants, shops, and entertainment offerings that are currently unavailable. We are sad to report that this includes the NBA Experience, as its entire staff was laid off back in October 2020 and cast members still haven’t been hired back. So, we will be glad to see this fun recreational offering return as the pandemic recedes. Additionally, although the Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs is open, its iconic, cuddly mascot, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, is not currently doing meet-and-greets.
Getting to Disney Springs can also be a bit tricky right now due to COVID-19. Just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic, doesn’t mean that crowds are slim at Disney Springs. On the contrary, we’ve actually seen this popular Disney destination reach capacity. Well, all of its parking garages anyway.
With all guests needing to have their temperatures checked before entering, large bottlenecks can form as guests are funneled in. That means that you can’t just park across the street behind the gas station and walk across if the parking garages fill up on an especially busy day like you could in the past. You’ll still need to make your way to one of the temperature checkpoints, which could be quite the walk depending on where you are forced to park. Aside from this, Disney’s complimentary water taxis that run throughout Disney Springs and to the nearby resorts also aren’t currently operating, meaning you’re stuck having to hoof it all the way from the Marketplace all the way to the West Side on foot.
NBA Experience at Disney Springs
Opened in summer 2019, the NBA Experience at Disney Springs sits across from the House of Blues and Cirque du Soleil. It rests in the spot which was once home to DisneyQuest, an entertainment complex that featured an array of virtual reality attractions and traditional arcade-style games. So, it is only fitting then that its replacement features immersive activities of a different kind: interactive, hands-on experiences all inspired by professional basketball.
The Disney NBA Experience is a ticketed attraction, with tickets costing $34 for guests ages 10 and older and $29 for guests between 3 and 9 years old. Admission is also included for guests with Park Hopper Plus tickets and is an option for those with the Water Parks and Sports ticket add-on. This ticket is valid for an entire day and covers all NBA Experience activities. That being said, we suggest you visit on a day when you have plenty of time available to enjoy Disney Springs. That way you won’t have to rush through or skip any of the included experiences. Plus, you can even split up your visit into chunks and take a break to go grab something to eat or do some shopping. NBA Experience hours tend to vary from the rest of Disney Springs, typically opening at noon and staying open until 10 or 11pm or later depending on what time Disney Springs closes.
The Disney World NBA Experience is spread across two floors, with the ground floor being mostly the NBA Experience store along with a few activities. As you first walk out of the Player Entry Tunnel into or the main area at the middle, flashing lights and big, bright screens make you feel as if you’ve just stepped out onto the basketball court. This is where you’ll get registered. Tap your MagicBand to start customizing your own personal NBA experience with your age, skill level, and favorite NBA team and choose your nickname. You’ll then be able to “tap in” your MagicBand throughout to track your stats and save your PhotoPass pictures. As you’ll be participating in various physical activities like basketball drills, you’ll also need to sign a waiver before you continue.
Once you’re all set up, you’ll be able to start working your way through the various hands-on activities. These run the gamut from physical drills like dribbling and shooting to player stats and other bits of basketball trivia to what it feels like to be drafted, with the whole experience giving guests a glimpse into what it really feels like to be an NBA player. These activities include:
Dribble: Test out your ball handling skills, then have your skills assessed based on your ability.
Dunk: Ever wanted to dunk like Michael? Now you can, thanks to an adjustable hoop! Try to make as many as you can in a minute.
Shoot: There’s only 15 seconds left on the clock and it has all come down to you. Hit that game winning shot as the crowd roars.
Slingshot: Practice your aim at this creative activity as you use a basketball slingshot to fling balls at hoops of varying heights.
Combine: Always wondered how you’d stack up in a draft? Measure your wingspan, shooting accuracy, and jump height, then see how they compare to the pros.
Replay – Be the Ref!: Channel all those nights you’ve spent yelling at a TV over a bad call into this activity where you check the videos and make the final call.
Players: Enter the off-the-court sanctuary of the players locker room and dig into current team rosters and player stats in this museum-like display.
Champions – That Winning Feeling: Dig into NBA and WNBA history at this attraction in the Hall of Champions.
Trivia – Get Your Brain in the Game: Challenge other NBA Experience Orlando players in this basketball battle of wits.
Theaters: Take a breather as you sit down to two short films about the NBA.
Arcade Area: Kids and kids at heart will enjoy this section where arcade-style basketball hoops and NBA-related video games are available to play.
Draft Day: This is the first of two photo opportunities. Get drafted by your favorite NBA team, then have your picture taken with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Trophy Moments in Hall of Champions: Hoist a trophy and celebrate like an NBA champion at this second photo op.
NBA Experience Disney Springs is by no means a cheap attraction, though the all-day entry does help offset the costs. However, this is definitely a niche destination, and you do need to have at least some interest in the NBA or basketball in general to really be able to participate in some of the activities. Small children may also get frustrated at not being able to play to the same extent as those older than them.
So, is the NBA Experience worth it? It depends on what you and your clan are interested in. If you’re big basketball fans or sports people in general, you’re the kind of person who likes working out while you’re on vacation, or you’ve got some older kids or teenagers with a bunch of energy, this attraction was made for you. For everyone else, eh, maybe not.
Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs
Located where Town Center meets the West Side across from Planet Hollywood and the AMC Dine-In Theatre, the multi-story Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs is a towering ode to the classic carbonated beverage and the perfect place to stop whether you are looking for something to drink or a piece of Coca-Cola swag. Guests can visit the Coca-Cola Store during the open hours for Disney Springs, typically between 10am and 10pm on the weekdays or 11pm on the weekends. Not as large as its big sister to the north, the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Coca-Cola Disney Springs is basically two-thirds store, one-third bar.
Inspired by an old bottling plant from the 1920s, Coca-Cola Store Orlando is filled with design touches styled after and made out of the iconic, curvy bottle. While warm brick lends to the industrial factory feel, the store’s glass-filled entryway is a nod to the drink’s green-tinged glass bottles. As you walk in, be sure to look up for a better look at the store’s 30-foot glass chandelier. Made to resemble those delightful carbonated bubbles in soda pop, each blown-glass bubble was made out of recycled Coca-Cola bottles.
Coca-Cola Store Disney Springs is what Coca-Cola calls an “immersive retail destination.” More specifically, it offers a huge variety of Coke-themed souvenirs and a meet-and-greet with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear spread across the bottom 2 floors, all crowned with an open-air rooftop bar.
As we previously mentioned, the first 2 floors are positively filled with Coca-Cola branded merch. So, if there are any die-hard Coke fans in your life, this place is a must-stop for all things Coca-Cola. Whether you’re looking for clothes, keychains, or one of those classic green-tinted glasses, you’re sure to find whatever it is you’re looking for here. There are even some exclusive, one-of-a-kind items that are only available here. One of our favorite collections is definitely 5by20, an assortment of sustainable clothing items and handcrafted goods made from recycled materials by female artisans from underprivileged populations across the world.
Also on the 2nd floor is the meet-and-greet with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear. This photo op is completely free – unless you decide to buy one of your photos, that is – and is usually open between 10am and 9pm. Keep in mind that the polar bear does need to go down some Coke and chill out every once in a while, so the meet-and-greet does close briefly throughout the day.
Waiting to meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear is almost as fun as meeting the giant furball itself thanks to interactive screens showing polar bear habits that are at the perfect height for little hands and screens built into the floor showing penguins and fluffy polar bear cubs swimming beneath you. It’s so cool, you may even imagine a slight chill on the air. Once you reach the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, snuggle in for a hug and a high five, and be sure to snap a picture of the occasion. A photographer is usually on hand to snap a photo as well.
The Coca-Cola Store Rooftop Beverage Bar is definitely the highlight of the whole immersive retail destination. With expansive views overlooking Town Center, the Disney Springs Coca-Cola Rooftop Bar is an excellent place to sit and enjoy something cool to drink for Disney guests of all ages. This is a soda bar, after all!
Don’t come here expecting to find something to eat, as there are only a few salty snacks available like pretzels, peanuts, and nachos. The highlight here, at is should be, is definitely all the drinks. And oh boy, are there a lot of them. There are tons of ice-cold beverages on offer on the Coca-Cola Disney Springs menu, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, including over 100 different drink choices available through Coca-Cola Freestyle, Mexican bottles, floats, and ICEEs. Mocktails and cocktails are also both available here, all featuring different Coca-Cola products.
Although you can certainly buy only 1 soda to try, we highly suggest you go for one of the different flights. Guests who were fans of the free samples of sodas from around the world over at Epcot’s Club Cool will be happy to know that the whole experience can now be recreated – albeit minus the sticky floors and it’s no longer for free – with the Around the World Tray. And yes, the famous Beverly is still there, and is even featured in its own cocktail: the aptly named Beverly’s Revenge.
Overall, with its killer views, character photo op, and a drink menu that’s sure to please everyone, the Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs is a great spot to stop and cool down with something to drink, especially for families
M&M’s at Disney Springs
Opened in early 2021, M&M’s at Disney Springs is the entertainment district’s newest immersive retail destination. Compared to the Coca-Cola Store at Disney Springs or the NBA Experience, M&M Disney Springs definitely leans more towards the retail side of things versus it being an interactive activity. That being said, if you’re a fan of those colorful, candy-coated chocolates, or really just chocolate in general, or this is one store you won’t want to miss.
As you would probably expect, the whole store is drenched in a riot of colors from the moment you walk through the doors. The whole store is filled with visual nods to the classic candy, with curved walls, circular lighting in traditional M&Ms candies colors, round artwork hanging from the walls that resembles Disney and Florida-themed M&Ms, and shelves in the same shade of golden yellow as a bag of peanut M&M’s. Even the candies themselves are turned into a vibrant accent wall over at the sprawling M&M’s Flavor Wall.
If all that has you think that this is a fantastic stop to add to your list if you’re looking for a colorful backdrop for your photo for Instagram, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, there are even larger-than-life versions of the M&M mascots sprinkled throughout the store that are perfect for your next selfie. Our favorite photo spot here, however, has to be the wall with the heart-shaped M&M.
Once you’ve taken all the photos you need, it’s time to start shopping! There is plenty of M&M’s-branded merchandise to be had here including apparel, stationery, mugs and other kitchen items, and even special M&M’s dispensers. Of course, there are also a mind-boggling amount of M&M’s available in tons of different flavors and what feels like every color under the sun. And we aren’t just talking about your standard milk chocolate and peanut varieties. There are many other sweet options like cheesecake, coffee nut, crispy mint, and more, along with pre-mixed medleys of coordinated color combinations like the blues and teals of the Ocean Mix or the pink, purple, and aqua candies of the Mermaid Mix. There are even mixes inspired by Mickey and Minnie! M&Ms are available either pre-packaged or self-serve, with each dispenser being sanitized hourly.
For us, the real highlight of the M&M store at Disney Springs is the customization station. That’s right – you can even design your own personalized M&M’s! Ever wished you could snack on sweet, chocolatey morsels emblazoned with your dog’s face? Well, at M&M Disney Springs, that dream can become a reality. Just mosey on over to the kiosk, scroll through all the customization options, and create your candy-coated masterpieces. Photos, icons, or up to 2 lines of text can be added to your special mix. Of course, there are also loads of Disney-inspired customization options available, making this the perfect souvenir for anyone with a sweet tooth. After picking out 4 designs and whichever packaging you’d like, all that’s left to do is wait for your treats to be complete.
On the whole, M&M’s at Disney Springs is well worth a visit if you’re a fiend for candy, looking for the perfect gift or place to snap a photo for the ‘gram, or just wanting a sweet snack.
Well, that wraps up everything you need to know about the NBA Experience, Coca-Cola Store, and M&M’s at Disney Springs. We don’t know about you, but as much as we enjoy eating and buying things (who doesn’t?!), we love getting to try out different entertainment offerings and spending even more time at Disney Springs. Hopefully, we’ll see even more unique experiences like these make their way to the Walt Disney World entertainment district in the future.