Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Disney News Update - New Deluxe Hotel for Walt Disney World

Thursday, October 18, 2018, Disney announced plans to build a new deluxe resort in Walt Disney World, to be completed in 2022.  This new hotel is to bring an additional 900 rooms to Walt Disney World, finalizing a 1,700 room increase over the next four years.  The new hotel is to be nature inspired and mixed use, meaning it will likely have a combination of hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club suites.

New Disney Hotel Concept Art (c) Disney
The concept art reveals a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque design for the hotel, seemingly using a mixture of natural materials to complete the aesthetic.  The new hotel is to be situated between the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness, likely over the old River Country location.   Plans for this development seem to have been dubbed Project 89 internally. 

Possible location and layout from older plans.
I'm of mixed minds on the development.  I am glad to see the site developed and hope to see touches of River Country in the resorts pools.  I am not sold on the potential architecture design in this particular location.  While a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired hotel would be a great addition to the Walt Disney World hotel family, this location was earmarked for a hotel development that would continue a story of time and place.  Something that moved from Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness representing the deep woods to the rustic Pacific Northwest of the Wilderness Lodge.  This location should be something representing more of the traditional Old West that we think of.  The Buffalo Junction plans.  I could have also gone with a design aesthetic that would mirror a late 1960s/1970s Winnebago inspired travel motel.  Something that would match the great design for the new chuck wagon at Fort Wilderness and the 1971 opening of the Walt Disney World Resort.

Fort Wilderness Chuck Wagon
I'm also not sold on the potential names that have been rumored for this resort.  Disney's Discovery Lodge, Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Resort, and Disney's Colors of Nature Resort seem to have all been included as possibilities in surveys for the new resort.  Of these, Disney's Discovery Lodge is the least offensive, but there seems to be a pattern of moving away from resorts that establish a different time and place.  Traditional Disney resorts were transportive.  They moved you to a different location (like the Polynesian, Saratoga Springs, the Animal Kingdom Lodge) or place (the Grand Floridian).  This simply seems to be a specific design choice.  An architectural style.  While there is nothing wrong with that, it is a complete shift from what Disney has generally offered in the past and a concern for its blend with the existing Fort Wilderness campgrounds given the proximity.  Disney's Riviera and Coronado Springs towers are further examples of this trend.

And for the name, it seems clear that it should be Disney's River Country Resort.

I'll be keeping an eye on this development.  Hopefully as more concept art is revealed and more features of the resort are described, it will become clearer and a little bit more Disney.

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