At Disney Springs, we strive to offer curated experiences that aren’t widely available – distinctive retail stores, award-winning dining experiences, world-renowned entertainment and even unique Disney-owned shops. And when you step into our Town Center, you see that vision come to life.
We’ve also done the reverse, by offering local entrepreneurs broader exposure to guests who come from all over the world to Disney Springs. Being able to visit hometown favorites like Gideon’s Bakehouse, Wondermade and The Polite Pig makes Disney Springs feel like home for our local guests, while giving those who are visiting an opportunity to get a taste of Central Florida and see what makes our community shine. And by being part of one of the most visited shopping and entertainment destinations in the world, the exposure these local brands get to a global audience is simply great for their business.
“While there is a need to have national brands at Disney Springs that draw consumers, this must be balanced with a collection of local brands that are the heart of our community and create some of the strongest connections to our guests,” says Matt Simon, vice president of Disney Springs. From Gideon’s Bakehouse’s iconic cookies and Wondermade’s artisan marshmallows to The Polite Pig’s modern BBQ fare and Happy Hound’s fun pet accessories, the eclectic mix of locally owned businesses that guests will find at Disney Springs is unparalleled in Central Florida.
One of those success stories is Gideon’s Bakehouse. Owner Steve Lewis started his cookie business in a tiny home kitchen in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood back in 2011, delivering orders on his bicycle! Three years ago, Disney Springs provided the perfect stage to explore his creativity and that’s why as soon as you step into Gideon’s Bakehouse, you realize it’s not only a bakery – it’s an experience.
Themed as a bookstore from another dimension, it is the perfect space to showcase their almost “half pound” cookies and cake slices. Besides their classic cookies that guests adore like the original chocolate chip and cookies & cream, they also love to experiment and create limited-time flavors for some of our Disney Springs seasonal celebrations.
“The international stage that Disney Springs presents is the best way to reach both locals and travelers, highlighting what our community offers,” says Steve. When you visit Gideon’s Bakehouse, keep an eye out for him. He loves connecting with people and you may find him chatting with guests about his favorite comic books or Disney+ shows!
Cookies are not the only “Made in Central Florida” sweet treat that guests can enjoy fresh out of the oven at Disney Springs. Nathan and Jenn Clark, co-owners of Wondermade, made their mark in the local community with their artisan marshmallow shop in nearby Sanford, Florida in 2014. They won the town over with their unique flavors such as Gold Champagne, Strawberry Chocolate Chip, Rose Raspberry, and the one that started it all, The Passion Fruit marshmallow. Nathan never dreamt that buying his wife a candy thermometer and a recipe for marshmallows back in 2011 would lead to the opening of a store at Disney Springs nine years later!
“This has opened so many new audiences for us and helped us connect with so many people who’ve never experienced the joy and wonder of amazing marshmallows,” says Nathan.
Jenn and Nathan have always strived to offer guests more than just amazing marshmallows by offering a taste adventure. A lot of visitors come for their signature s’more flavor and then discover over a dozen more, including their bourbon or churro flavors. Nathan is amazed at the number of guests that then go home and post about their great experience at Wondermade on social media. He is thrilled that Wondermade has nearly doubled as a business since they opened their Disney Springs location!
Growing up in Central Florida, husband-and-wife duo Chefs James and Julie Petrakis never imagined the possibility of having a restaurant at Disney. They won over the hearts of Central Florida residents when they opened The Ravenous Pig in 2007, becoming a modern barbecue staple in Winter Park. Opening The Polite Pig at Disney Springs in 2018, was a game changer for the couple. “The popularity of the location introduces a whole new segment of guests to not only The Polite Pig, but to our entire brand,” says Julie.
The hybrid sit-down quick dining experience that the restaurant offers is the perfect way to wind down after a day of visiting the parks. Their menu is inspired by the best seasonal food that Florida has to offer, introducing visitors to local flavors and BBQ, as well as attracting locals that have supported them for over a decade.
We are so proud these local businesses call Disney Springs “home.” But the most essential part of our community here is you, our guest. Whether you travel across the country or down the street to visit us, we are committed to supporting local entrepreneurs who help create the perfect space for you to make new memories to cherish for years to come.