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Full Review: West Side Starbucks in Disney World’s Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney (currently transitioning to Disney Springs, with the official renaming set for 2015) has opened its second of two Starbucks locations.

West Side Starbucks in Downtown Disney

West Side Starbucks in Downtown Disney

You may want to grab your own cuppa joe before settling in to take this tour – the West Side location is HUGE, so there is lots to see!

Starbucks Location in Downtown Disney's West Side

Starbucks Location in Downtown Disney’s West Side

Before we step inside, one of the unique outdoor features is the grass roof, aided in its growth by recycled coffee grounds.

Grass roof as seen from the side

Grass roof as seen from the side

Grass roof

Grass roof

As you approach the door to enter, you’ll notice that this is a Starbucks Reserve location. More on that to come…

Starbucks Reserve door handles

Starbucks Reserve door handles

While the Marketplace location that opened a couple of weeks ago is a walk-up counter for grab-and-go coffee, the West Side location is large enough that there is a dedicated room just for ordering and picking up your coffee. The queue is waiting for you!

Queue for the ordering counter

Queue for the ordering counter

Welcome to Starbucks!

Welcome to Starbucks!

Ordering room

Ordering room

If you are a Starbucks regular, you may not even need to glance at the menu, but it’s there, just in case ;) .

Menu board

Menu board

You can grab a bite from the bakery case as well. While there are no location-specific treats, I learned that this location carries just about every item from the La Boulange pastry line including coffee cake, cheese danish, cookies, muffins, croissants, scones, and breakfast sandwiches.

Bakery case

Bakery case

Bakery case

Bakery case

Packaged sandwiches, salads, and cheese and fruit boxes are also available.

Once you pick up your coffee, you can proceed to the next room and grab a spot to relax.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Since it is anticipated that this will be a very busy spot, the name of the game is seating, and lots of it.

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Indoor seating

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

Seating at the Reserve Coffee Counter

I liked this group table – a smart addition for a family vacation destination (there are a couple of group tables in the outdoor seating area, too, which we’ll see a bit later).

Large table

Large table

You can even gain some coffee knowledge if you take a look around. Chalk-style murals depict regions where coffee beans are harvested, as well as a little history of the French Press brewing system.

Mural

Mural

Mural

Mural

French Press mural

French Press mural

A few cool antique coffee grinders and measuring scales are tucked into wall shelves.

Coffee antiques

Coffee antiques

Antique scale

Antique scale

Everywhere you look, you’ll find more coffee-inspired details.

"Coffee sack" Pillow

“Coffee sack” Pillow

Beans at the Reserve Counter

Beans at the Reserve Counter

Changing screen showing progess of the coffee bean

Changing screen showing progess of the coffee bean

With lots of wood and black walls, this spot might be rather dark, but large windows provide plenty of natural light as well as a great view of Downtown Disney and the lake.

Window wall

Window wall

There are two really unique features in this room to share. One is the interactive screen. The screen is interactive in that you can “draw” on it (think etch-a-sketch, without the little pen).

Interactive Screen

Interactive Screen

I stole this little greeting idea from Heather, our Disneyland reporter, from her trip to the Starbucks location in Downtown Disney Anaheim :) .

DFB Greeting!

DFB Greeting!

I also mention the Anaheim Starbucks because you can use this screen to check out what’s happening out there from your spot at Disney World!

"Live from Anaheim"

“Live from Anaheim”

Of course, Anaheim is three hours behind the east coast, so there wasn’t much action to be seen during my morning visit, since they weren’t open yet. But there was still fun to be had — occasionally you can catch a glimpse of the chalk version of yourself, and see what they would be seeing in Anaheim.

Interactive screen

Interactive screen

I kind of felt like I was in the “Take On Me” video (by A-ha!) from WAAAAAY back in the day. If you remember that, then I salute you, fellow child of the eighties! (AJ’s Editor Note: “I TOTALLY had that cassette single!!!!!!! This is why Wendy and I are friends.”)

Obviously, part of what’s involved in this technology are cameras, so a disclaimer is present letting you know where to go if you prefer not to be filmed during your visit.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

The other special thing in this room is the Reserve Coffee Counter. If you are looking specifically for Reserve Coffee, save yourself some time and bypass the main ordering section, since you’ll find the Reserve Coffee in the seating room. It has it’s own register, so you can make your purchase without waiting in the main line.

Reserve Coffee Counter on the left

Reserve Coffee Counter on the left

Reserve Coffee Counter

Reserve Coffee Counter

Reserve Coffee is offered at select Starbucks locations, featuring very small batches of “rare and exotic” beans. These upscale brews are prepared one cup at a time with the Clover brewing system.

Reserve Coffee information

Reserve Coffee information

The Clover machines offer a more efficient way than the French Press to brew a single cup utilizing “Vacuum-Press” technology (the term “Vacuum-Press” is trademarked).

These machines allow you the opportunity to select your preferred brew, and offer the added benefit that your cup will be incredibly fresh.

Clover machine

Clover machine

During my visit, the Reserve Coffee choices (designated in the picture below with stars among the regular Starbucks blends) were Brazil Bourbon from Rio Verde and Zambia Peaberry. Choices will vary on any given day based on availability. The friendly barista working the Reserve Counter helped me make my selection by walking me through strength, flavor, and acidity (or “brightness”) of each.

Reserve Coffee choices

Clover machine brewing choices

Ultimately, he brewed a cup of the Brazil coffee for me. I can’t speak to the ins-and-outs of the various notes in the coffee, but I can tell you this: I typically doctor my coffee with cream and sugar to the high heavens, but since this was finer coffee than I typically make at home, I wanted to at least taste one sip of it black. I ended up drinking the entire cup that way, because it was smooth, rich, and not at all bitter.

Starbucks Reserve Coffee black sleeve

Starbucks Reserve Coffee black sleeve

While Starbucks Reserve locations are relatively rare, they can be found around the country if you’re interested in trying this experience near your home. It’s good to know that Starbucks Reserve Coffee is higher priced than the regular brews. For instance, my 12 ounce cup – a Starbucks Tall – was $2.75 ($2.93 with tax), where a standard Tall cup in Downtown Disney runs at $2.25. Prices will vary based on location and available beans.

I’m glad I gave it a try. My cup was so good that I didn’t even regret passing up my chance to order up some Oprah Chai! Next time, for sure…

Oprah Chai!

Oprah Chai!

As you may have guessed from the photo of my cup, I took my coffee to the outdoor seating area. I can picture spending more time out here with a hot drink when the weather gets cooler.

Outdoor seating

Outdoor seating

It’s a terrific spot for conversation, and the glassed-in fire beyond the group tables is a terrific feature, topped by a moss mural of the Starbucks siren.

Outdoor fireplace

Outdoor fireplace

Siren mural

Siren mural

This picture is my attempt at being artsy, but my friend made the great point that it just looks like I had a VERY hot cup of coffee ;) .

Coffee on fire!

Coffee on fire!

A few deets! The Downtown Disney locations are corporate Starbucks locations, which means that they can take Starbucks cards and redeem Starbucks rewards (including birthday drinks, if you are part of the rewards program!). At this time, the West Side Starbucks location doesn’t take snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan (unlike the in-park Starbucks locations, Main Street Bakery and Fountain View). The location is open from 10 am to midnight.

I think the new location is really nice. It’s visually appealing, with plenty of options for seating and great views, and it provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Disney… which is sure to become all the more hustle-y and bustle-y as it continues to change into Disney Springs. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s next, and hope you are, too!

Will you be making a stop at the West Side Starbucks? Please let us know with a comment!

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14 Comments

  1. Lynne says:

    Not to be picky, but on the chalkboard about french press, it is Pittsfield, MA not Pittfield.

  2. Alan says:

    It just strikes me as weird, looking out a Starbucks window and seeing scenes of DTD ( including what I assume will be a soon to be gone Pleasure Island sign).

  3. Agnes says:

    Your “very hot cup of coffee” by the fireplace made me giggle.

  4. Lisa says:

    LOVE the mossy Starbucks icon on the wall.

  5. casey says:

    Not sure why 1 more in the realm of those 12,973 starbuck stores here in the united states is such a big deal?

    Starbucks Corporation is an American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain based in Seattle, Washington. Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 23,187 stores in 64 countries, including 12,973 in the United States, 1,897 in China, 1,550 in Canada, 1,088 in Japan and 927 in the United Kingdom.

  6. Leslie says:

    I wish there was a Starbucks in Downtown Disney Anaheim!

  7. Ashley says:

    Don’t feel too bad about not trying to Oprah chai. I tried it the other day and it’s not good. Regular chai is way better.

  8. Colin says:

    I really like the design–it really reflects the new urbanscape found at the Anaheim location and I love that both are linked via in-store images. However, I’m quite surprised that this architecture style was chosen immediately after the Disney Springs concept was announced. This certainly doesn’t bring to mind “a timeless and vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside towns that dotted the Florida landscape.” I think I would have imagined more of a beach bungalow with an outdoor yard space rather than a concrete and glass industrial space. Perhaps the West Side of Disney Springs will maintain a more contemporary look as the transformations continue in order to blend Splittsville and Cirque du Soleil into the landscape. Hmm…

  9. Essie says:

    Great review. I’d like to see the interactive board and check out the bakery case (of course). Wendy, do you know what their cappuccino is like? I had the ‘authentic’ version once and didn’t care for it (much too bitter), but I do enjoy the creamy, sweet types that you can buy in convenience stores and make from cans of instant powders. BTW, I like your ‘artsy’ photo; I think it’s quite clever.

  10. AJ says:

    Leslie — There is! It opened last year.

  11. kiki says:

    Cool looking Starbucks. Thanks for the review.

  12. Wendy says:

    Lynne – that’s not picky at all, it’s a great catch :)!

    Alan – I understand what you mean. I really like the space and plan to visit again, but you’re right — it’s a different feel, for sure.

    Agnes — :)! Thanks for the comment!

    Lisa – I thought that was cool, too…

    Casey – That’s a fair point :). We find it interesting because while Downtown Disney transitions to Disney Springs it’s intriguing to see the new spaces, providing some glimpses as to what the area might be like — especially the food stops :) — when it reaches completion.

    Leslie – Hope you enjoy the Anaheim spot when you have a chance to visit!

    Ashley — Ha! Good to know :)!

    Colin – Great point! It is somewhat surprising considering the full vision as it’s been expressed. I think you’re onto something, considering the presence of Splitsville, Cirque, House of Blues, etc. More concept art is being posted around Downtown Disney as construction expands, and there seem to be two different “vibes” represented throughout the artwork, including the turn-of-the-century feel you mentioned.

    Essie – I haven’t tried the Starbucks style cappuccino specifically because, like you, I learned a long time ago that cappuccino wasn’t for me, either :). That’s why I was so surprised to enjoy that black coffee – I typically like mine highly sweetened! You might enjoy trying a flavored syrup (I like caramel) or white chocolate in a mocha (sometimes I find the dark chocolate too bitter).

    Kiki – Thanks so much!

  13. Robin says:

    I truely do not understand all the hype about Starbucks at WDW and the need for all the reviews I have been seeing. Starbucks is Starbucks regardless of where in the W/world it is. The fact that there is one at Disney makes me no more likely to go to it any more than I would my regular one across town here in Charlottesville, VA!! I am more apt to go places I CAN’T go at home!

  14. ROZ says:

    We will be there in December…..can’t wait to try our the West Side Starbucks…. We have been to the one at Epcot and the one on Main Street @ Magic Kingdom….. excited to check out the two new ones at Downtown!!!! Love me some Starbucks!!!!!

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