A hotel or campground right for everyone.
The Walt Disney World resort has over twenty distinct hotel and resort properties within its boundaries, offering a wide variety of accommodations. Motel style rooms. Family suites. Wilderness cabins. Three bedroom treehouses. And a variety of multi-room villas.
Currently, resorts are grouped by price point. Value, Moderate, Deluxe, and Villa. The company is likely switching to a location based grouping, with price points reflecting the proximity. Magic Kingdom resorts, EPCOT Resorts, Disney Hollywood Studios Resorts, Disney Animal Kingdom Resorts, and Disney Springs Resorts.
The company is also going through an impressive expansion in its hotel offerings. The construction of the new tower and general expansion of the Coronado Springs Resort. The construction of the Riviera Disney Vacation Club Resort adjacent to the Caribbean Beach Resort. The immersive storytelling Star Wars Resort. There's even the new non-Disney, but Disney property C2 hotel going in among the Swan and Dolphin.
That does not even begin to address the rumors of further hotel expansion. The Project 89 work at Fort Wilderness, likely for a new resort complex there. (Addressed in the previous entry to this series). And the EPCOT entrance hotel.
Accordingly, there is a lot of anticipated growth in the hotel and resort segment of Walt Disney World. Once these additions, are complete, I believe there are just a couple of additional remodelings and expansions that should be undertaken to fully flesh out the resort.
- I want to make sure that a balance is maintained regarding the mix of types of amenities and price points. Between hotel and DVC units.
- There should be a return to unique and thematic architecture and interior design. Recent additions to the resorts are getting very structurally similar, with just the details left as unique. Compare the Coronado tower and Riviera Resort renderings above and then compare that to the difference between the Contemporary and Polynesian.
- I would want to further group the resorts by transportation type. Beyond location specific, there should also be the Monorail resorts, the gondola resorts, the boat resorts, and the train resorts. Unique and appropriate offerings for the particular location grouping.
Rather than discuss every resort and potential additions, I'm going to focus on the specific additions and changes that I would make. Most resorts function well and just need periodic refreshing of the decor and interior design. There's no need for me to discuss each of those instances. Instead, I want to focus on larger construction needs and potential new resorts that should be added.
Magic Kingdom Resort Area:
Generally, the hotels of the Magic Kingdom resort area are the stalwarts of the Walt Disney World Resort. The Grand Floridian, The Polynesian, The Contemporary. There are just a couple of additions that I would propose to really cap off this area.
First, I would add a second tower to the Contemporary Resort area to balance the Bay Lake Tower addition. This would take over the Garden Wing section and should be either a circular copy of the Bay Lake Tower or a new complimentary geometric shape.
|New Contemporary Tower|
A place to sleep in a palace. Tokyo is adding a new fantasy resort in its addition to DisneySea, and while I would not copy that architecture, I feel a similar resort here would be a very big draw. For the architecture, I would look to French design. Versailles. Loire valley chateau, like the John Horney concept art below.
|Existing concept art to dust off and put to use|
The only question with the resort is where to put it. There have been several plans for additional resorts along the Seven Seas Lagoon/Bay Lake. Particularly the Venetian, the Persian, the Asian, and the Mediterranean in the old Venetian location. The Asian location eventually became the Grand Floridan, but the Venetian/Mediterranean and Persian sites are still open. Both locations have been deemed suitable for development (or at least marginally suitable), but evidence shows the Venetian/Mediterranean plot may be more expensive than desired due to the swampy condition of the land.
|Magic Kingdom Area Hotel Plots|
In those previously identified locations, I would actually propose alternate uses. The Persian plot would make a good second location for another 360 immersive hotel like the upcoming Star Wars hotel. It is a good isolated location that could be more tightly managed to keep the entire experience in the hotel immersed in the particular story to be told. Good immersive themes for this hotel would be a Haunted Mansion resort or even an additional immersive princess/royalty experience (Renaissance on steroids with a Disney flair).
If the Venetian/Mediterranean plot can be developed, I think it would be much better served as a mixed use facility than strictly a hotel resort complex. Something like the Boardwalk or Disney Springs lite. Disney Center Port/Pier. Shopping and dining on the first floor, hotel rooms on the second and third. An option to relieve the crowds at Disney Springs and also to allow guests to come out of the Magic Kingdom and into one of the restaurants there. Ticket and Transportation parking would be sufficient. Arguably, this could be a part of the revitalization of Ticket and Transportation, bringing it out of the dated 90s look and into an integral part of this shopping and dining district.
Wilderness Lodge/Fort Wilderness Area:
I've previously discussed the potential hotel at Fort Wilderness.
|Fort Wilderness Hotel|
|Wilderness Junction Hotel|
EPCOT has a proposed new hotel for the entrance to the park. Rumor has it that the hotel could completely envelop the entrance, so that you would pass under the hotel to enter the park, or it could flank the entrances. Another possibility is that it would be located in the current bus drop off area.
|EPCOT Entrance Hotels|
The Yacht & Beach Club and Swan and Dolphin hotels are all well developed as is. The Boardwalk Hotel is as well, though I feel there are additions that should be made to the actual boardwalk itself.
|Proposed Boardwalk Additions|
This is also a good place to talk about the upcoming gondolas, as the end result is connecting a lot of resorts to EPCOT and Disney Hollywood Studios. The current plan will connect the Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Riviera resorts to both parks.
|Current gondola plan (L) with proposed extension (R)|
Disney Hollywood Studios Area:
The main hotel in the Hollywood Studios Area will be the Star Wars hotel. An immersive experience where you will be living Star Wars for your two or three night stay.
|Star Wars Hotel Location identified above|
There are a few options for the location. I've indicated them on the map below.
|Hollywood Hotel Options|
Disney Animal Kingdom Area:
The Animal Kingdom lodge and villas are beautiful resorts. They may be two of the most beautiful resorts in all of Disney property. Their only downside is their distance from other locations. To keep the grounds for the animals on the savanna, their is a needed distance from everything else, which comes with the price of seclusion. It is definitely worth the stay, but requires a car for ease of access (I would never tell anyone to rely solely on bus transportation here and the cost of uber or the Minnie Vans can add up quick).
One thing that could go a long way in easing the disconnected feel would be a transportation system connecting the lodge to the Animal Kingdom park. Here, I would go with a train, like proposed Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge. The Wildlife or Wildebeest Express. I can envision two different paths for the train. One connecting you to the main entrance. This would likely also require the reworking of the bus pick-up and drop off locations. The second would be to connect to the Africa section of the park. This in many ways makes the most sense to me. It creates a unique perk for the resort and thematically ties the resort to the specific entrance. This would require a security checkpoint and ticket gate at the lodge, but Disney has a history of this kind of transportation (the Disneyland monorail).
|The Wildlife or Wildebeest Express proposed routes|
Disney Springs Area:
The Disney Springs hotels all work and do not have a lot of room for expansion. Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter, Old Key West, and Saratoga Springs all offer different themes, tied together by the water. All connected to Disney Springs by the boat transportation system, they each serve their purpose well.
As discussed in the Disney Springs post, the only thing I could add that I feel would make particularly the Saratoga Springs resort better utilized, is a night time entertainment show on Lake Buena Vista for Disney Springs. Ideally the particular show would be visible from both sides of the lake. My favorite option is still updating and moving the Electric Water Pageant to these waters.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Area:
The Wide World of Sport complex generally shares the All-Star Resorts (All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies). These are the go to resorts for the various competition groups that are competing at the Complex.
The two could be better coordinated by creating a direct path from these resorts to the Complex. I've envisioned a new path from the center of the All-Star resorts to the Complex. I've included a new stadium pitched in the Olympics post with new parking, which could help serve as a new entrance complex. I can see either dedicated mini-buses or vans running this route. "Team shuttles".
|All-Star Wide World of Sports Connection|
With this, I think the Disney resorts are well situated for the years to come. And in light of all the additional hotels, motels, and non-Disney resorts just on the edge of property, there will be no shortage of rooms in the future for every price point.
Next time, general thoughts about the future of the Walt Disney Resort including thoughts on park number five. Thanks, as always, for reading.