The story of Disney Springs, for those of you that may have missed it, is tied explicitly to water. I know, I know, you think it’s crazy that I’m telling you it isn’t tied to Indiana Jones, great food, and excellent cocktails. But those lights that shimmer off of the crystal clear blue water (I really wanted to use a Candle on the Water reference here, but I behaved myself), the picturesque setting where houses were built and later businesses thrived, that is where the story Disney Springs begins.
Growing up in central Florida, I’ve been known to take a dip in a spring or two, and the bright blue waters of the spring here, tucked between The Landing and Town Center sections, are incredibly reminiscent of the watering holes I spent my childhood around. There are a multitude of ways for which the water could be siphoned off from the spring, but Disney has chosen to give us an hands on example in the heart of Town Center.
This is an Archimedes’ screw, and you can actually work the dial in order to pump water from the spring. As you spin the pipe that runs along the center of the screw the water is carried up, eventually spilling out over the top. The design does allow for some of the water to run off prior to reaching the top, and it takes a fair amount of turning to make sure you get more water than you lose, but this type of water pump has been used since the third century BC. So, you know, it’s tried, true, and tested. Most often it is propelled by hand, but it can also be attached to a windmill. It is commonly used in irrigation, but that isn’t to say that it couldn’t be utilized for collection purposes in case you wanted to, I don’t know, bottle and sell the water?
Disney Springs long ago decided to bottle its most valuable resource and situate its marquee business right alongside the spring in The Landing. The Springs Bottling Co. may have turned over its warehouse to Morimoto Asia, but the sign still lights up every night. That’s not the only reference to the warehouse’s former life either. Inside guests can see rows of the bottles sitting perfectly still along the conveyor line, forever locked in place from the moment the Springs Bottling Co. stopped its operation. The make for great reflectors of light, and I even hear that there are surplus bottles available for sale down in the Marketplace.
Of course, this is Florida, and what good is water if it isn’t ice cold? Heading back across the spring to the Town Center, we stop off at Sprinkles. Now a cupcake lover’s dream, the exposed brick, flaking plaster, and windows reminiscent of garage doors reveal a much more industrial purpose for which this structure was once used. Once you’ve gotten your cupcake fix, either inside the bakery or from its ingenious Cupcake ATM, take a peek around the corner on the patio. Here are the remnants of an ice making business. Spring water would make for great ice that could be transported in large blocks to local businesses and homes. This is precisely what the Sunshine State Ice Works thought when they opened their doors.
The community of Disney Springs quite literally has spring water running through its veins. From old water tower to the Village Lake, the waters here have given life to businesses, myths, agricultural exploits, transportation, and so much more. It is a story that you can see repeated over and over in small, tight-knit communities all throughout Florida. While there are more stories to uncover, and histories to be told, there wouldn’t be a Disney Springs if it weren’t for the spring’s waters themselves.