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---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/26/14) Walt Disney World - Detailed Monorail Automation System Update (MORE...)
(11/24/14) Walt Disney World - Rumored Monorail Automation Update (MORE...)
(11/20/14) Springs Bottling Co Logo Added To Downtown Disney (MORE...)
(11/19/14) New Rumor Says Added Property May Have Another Use (MORE...)
Resort Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Kouzzina by Cat Cora - NOW CLOSED FOREVER
Typhoon Lagoon - NOW CLOSED through January 3, 2015
Disney’s Polynesian Resort:
Lobby / Ceremonial House - Rehab / Redesign NOW through Dec. 2014
East side of Beach and Sunset Point unavailable NOW through March 2015
Nanea Volcano Pool - NOW through Mid 2015
Disney’s All Star Music:
Food Court - NOW through Dec. 19, 2014
Arcade - NOW through Dec. 19, 2014
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge:
Silver Creek Springs Pool - NOW through Nov. 27, 2014
Blizzard Beach - January 4, 2015 through March 14, 2015
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort:
Stormalong Bay Pool Waterslide - Jan. 5 through Feb. 2, 2015
Stormalong Bay Pool Lazy River - Feb. 2 through Mar. 3, 2015
Screamscape’s Guide To FastPass+ Is A Must Read!
General Resort News - (10/28/14) The OBJ has confirmed that the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels are undergoing an extensive renovation… the largest one in the resort’s history actually. According to the article the linked resorts will spend $125 million during a multi-phase upgrade which will see all the guest rooms redesigned and upgraded with new furnishings and new technology.
Renovations for the first phase of 500 rooms at the Swan will be completed by the end of 2014, while the first phase of renovations at the Dolphin wont begin until sometime in 2015. The renovation work on both resorts will be completed sometime in 2016.
In other resort news, the seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels are offing special Fall Family Fun Rates from Nov. 1 through Dec. 23rd, 2014. While not official ‘Disney’ branded properties, they are on Disney property and are within walking distance of Downtown Disney as well as offering their own complimentary shuttle transportation to the Disney parks throughout the day. For all the official information on the hotels and the deals being offered at each, click here.
(10/17/14) Disney gives us a sneak peek at the menu of Trattoria al Forno, the new restaurant coming to Disney’s BoardWalk, opening on December 18th, along with a look at a few great looking dishes to try.
(9/2/14) Screamscape sources tell us that Disney will be retiring the last of their old RTS buses within the next week or so, as they were the oldest active buses in the fleet. I’m also told that the bus stops at the Port Orleans resort are being modified to accommodate the newer articulated buses, along with a modification to Charter bus stop #25 at the Studios as well to allow for the articulated buses to make park-to-park runs to the Magic Kingdom at peak times when higher capacity is needed.
(8/15/14) An eagle-eyed reader spotted a huge assortment of height-check balloons flying in the sky near the back entrance to Fort Wilderness between Golden Oaks and the campground. Is Disney looking into building another new huge resort in this area? Given how close this would be to the ultra-expensive Golden Oaks homes, making sure it isn’t too tall would be a concern I’d expect.
(8/7/14) Disney has announced that the characters from the new “Big Hero 6” film, Hiro and his robot buddy Baymax, will arrive at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World theme parks to meet and greet with guests this fall. There is one problem I see coming from this however… that Big Hero 6 was actually a Marvel comic and features characters who have interacted with other Marvel Universe characters. That said… technically wouldn’t any of the Big Hero 6 characters be banned from appearing at the Walt Disney World theme parks just as Spiderman, Wolverine and Iron Man are banned, due to Universal’s exclusive rights East of the Mississippi to Marvel characters at Islands of Adventure?
(7/24/14) Remember how the large fish tank at the T-Rex Cafe ruptured earlier this year? According to this posting at CFLAS.org, the old coral centerpiece has been cleaned up, rebuilt, restored better than ever and delivered it back to be reinstalled into the new version of the aquarium as soon as the T-Rex Cafe is ready. In the meantime, take a look at the pretty pictures of it still on dry land.
(7/17/14) The new restaurant coming to Disney’s Boardwalk to replace Kouzzina by Cat Cora will be called Trattoria al Forno. According to Disney’s own release, “A “trattoria” is an Italian restaurant serving simple food, and “al forno” is Italian for “food baked in an oven,” and this new spot will showcase Old World techniques, including handcrafted mozzarella made daily, cavatelli (small dumpling-shaped pasta) and a variety of Neopolitan-style pizzas baked in wood-burning ovens.” More details can be read here.
(6/16/14) I took part in a panel of writers to give our opinions on why Disney isn’t likely to change their methods anytime soon in order to fend off the growing competition. You can read it all over at ThemeParkTourist.
2013 - FastPass+ / MyMagic+ / MagicBand - (8/11/14) DisneyAtWork has posted a new article about what new perks and abilities we can expect to see from the future of MyMagic+ at Walt Disney World and how the system will help increase revenue growth at the resort.
--FP+ Only In One Park--
Fastpass+ is currently being offered to all guests in all four parks. Guests can have up to 3 FP+ for the day, but they are only valid in a single park. So, you cannot, for example, book 1 FP+ in Epcot and use the remaining 2 in MK. If you book FP+ in a park, but do not use any of them, you can cancel them and set them for another park, but if you use even just one, they are locked into that park for the day. This started in the beginning so the individual infrastructure for each park could be built up and made more reliable, and also to see which attractions (both new to FP and used to it) guests were going to. This continues today to ensure the parks can hold thousands of people a day on the system, and WILL eventually change so guests can use their FP+ in multiple parks a day.
--Only 3 FP+ A Day--
Guests have the ability to book 3 FP+ a day, and cannot book anymore, even after all 3 have been used. The reasoning behind this is to ensure that most of the guests have the ability to get their own FP+, and it spreads them out across the board, making it fair to all guests so the people who enter the park at 2pm for example still have a fair shot at getting some. I at this point am unsure about this changing, but when the “park hoping” happens, you will most likely see a change in this as well.
--Why Can’t I get Test Track and Soarin?--
The reasoning for the tiered system both at Epcot and Studios is to give more guests the opportunity to get a FP+ for a “big” attraction, and to ensure that they have not all been given out within an hour of the park opening as Test Track, Soarin, and Toy Story have consistently done. The tiered system will not be changing.
--Explain the Tiered System at Epcot and the Studios--
Epcot and Hollywood Studios have a tiered system when it comes to FP+. Essentially what this means is that there are two categories that you get to choose from, category A and category B. In Category A, you may select 1 attraction. In Category B, you may select 2 attractions. You cannot select more than 1 attractions from A, and cannot select more than 2 attractions from B. (At Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, guests can select any 3 attractions they'd like.)
Category A: (select one). Category B: (select 2)
-Illuminations Viewing Area. -Captain EO
-Soarin. -Journey Into Imagination
-Living With the Land -Meet Mickey & Friends
-Test Track. -Spaceship Earth
-The Seas with Nemo & Friends
-Turtle Talk with Crush
Category A: (select one). Category B: (select 2)
-Toy Story Mania. -Disney Junior Live on Stage
-Beauty and the Beast Live -Voyage of the Little Mermaid
-Fantasmic! -Tower of Terror
-Rock 'n' Roller Coaster -Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
-The Great Movie Ride -Star Tours
-Lights, Motors, Action!
-Muppet Vision 3D
NOTE - When it comes to switching FP+, guests cannot switch between categories. It must be switched with an attraction from the same category.
--The Difference Between Resort Guests and Day Guests--
Resort Guests have the ability to make FP+ selections up to 60 days prior to the beginning of their stay. Day Guests do not have this option, but can make day of selections at any FP+ Kiosk once inside the park.
As of right now, APs can enter the park and make fp+ selections day of. They do not have the ability to book in advance, UNLESS they are staying at a WDW resort. There is currently a test that started not too long ago that gives APs the ability to book FP+ in advance for a total of 7 days for every 60. The days do not have to be consecutive, and this does not mean that they ONLY get 7 days of fp+ period, even if they visit more than 7 days. APs still have the ability to make FP+ selections the day of their visit at any FP+ Kiosk once inside the park. The ”7 Day” test is only being done with advanced reservations. And yes, APs are going to be able to customize their own AP MagicBands.
While we’re on the subject, there has been some adjustments to the FastPass+ Tier system for attractions at the Studios and Epcot put into effect over the summer, so our FP+ Guide will be modified to reflect this.
Studios – The Great Movie Ride has been moved to Category A
Epcot – Living with the Land is now on the A list while Maelstrom now on the B list.
(4/26/14) New changes are coming to the FastPass+ system starting on Monday. According to the Orlando Sentinel guests will now have “unlimited” use of FastPass+ in the parks, erasing the previous 3 per day rule. The new process will allow you to pick your first three FastPass+ selections and once they are used, you can select a forth at any kiosk in the park. Once you use it, you can pick another, and so on, much like the old paper FastPass system. Fair warning… for the time being, visiting an in park kiosk is the only way to get these additional FastPass+ reservations, and the My Disney Experience app on your Smartphone will not work. Yet…
Parkhopping will also be allowed now… but only after you have used your first three FastPass+ options, which are still tied to being used all in the same park. After your first three are done, you are then free to roam the resort.
2014 - Four Seasons Resort - Now Open - (8/11/14) MouseSteps take us for a look around the new Four Seasons Resort that just opened on Walt Disney World property late last month. Check it out.
(2/10/14) After sitting quietyly under construction for quite some time, I’m told that the new Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World has now started to accept advanced reservations ahead of the grand opening on August 3rd.
(4/10/13) MouseSteps shares some pictures of the new Four Seasons Resort Orlando now under construction at the Walt Disney World Resort. No date has been mentioned, but it is believed that it will be ready to open for guests sometime in 2014. From the look of it, I’d say LATE 2014, or more than likely 2015...
(9/14/11) According to the Orlando Sentinel, the $360 million deal to build a Four Seasons hotel on WDW property has been finalized at last, and is now set to begin construction on the overdue project this December. The 444-room hotel will not be ready to open until mid to late 2014 however.
(9/2/08) We finally get a peek at just what the new Four Seasons resort on Walt Disney World property will look like, posted over at the Orlando Sentinel. According to the article, site prep has already started and the hotel is looking to open in 2012 instead of 2010.
(3/1/07) Walt Disney World made two surprise announcements today about a major expansions planned for the resort. Disney has struck a deal to construct a 900 acre luxury resort and commercial district on the site of the current Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf courses. The new site will be anchored by an official Four Seasons hotel and include an 18 hole golf course, like keeping one of the two existing courses or perhaps some kind of combination of the two. The site will also include an area for “single and multi-family vacation homes and fractional ownership vacation homes.” Screamscape has heard that the land itself for that has been rezoned from Reedy Creek to Orange County to prevent anyone else’s agenda from getting in the way of Disney and Reedy Creek which is pretty much their unofficial district they maintain control over. Work on the new hotel is supposed to begin later this year, though it wont be ready to open until 2010.
2015 - Polynesian Resort Renovation / DVC Addition - (9/26/14) A new construction update from the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was posted to OrlandoParksNews last week.
(9/19/14) It’s official… the new sign for the Poly has been installed, displaying the new name for the resort as Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
(8/13/14) MouseSteps takes us in for a new look around the Polynesian Resort construction site this week.
(7/31/14) A new construction update from the Polynesian Village Resort has been posted to Orlando Theme Park News.
(7/24/14) Screamscape sources tell us that Disney’s Polynesian Resort should see the pool area close on or around July 28th and it wont reopen until March 2015. I’m told that Disney is hoping to try and get the work finished on the new water bungalows as well as the new DVC section of the resort by the start of 2015. They had the same hopes for the work going on at the Great Ceremonial House, but at the moment that phase of the project is said to be behind schedule, so the work may continue on there through as last as February.
(7/21/14) MouseSteps has posted a new construction update from Disney’s Polynesian Resort this week. From the look of things, there are now construction walls pretty much everywhere... both inside and outside. I’m liking the look of these water bungalows though... should be incredible rooms to stay in when finished.
(5/28/14) I’m told that Disney has expanded the scope of their renovation work to the Polynesian Resort. According to what I’m told, there are now three buildings (Buildings 9, 10 and 11) going under the knife to be transformed into DVC style suites instead of just the two. On a related note, a new series of construction photos of the resort has been posted by MouseSteps.
(5/21/14) An extensive construction update Disney’s Polynesian Resort has been posted to OrlandoParkNews this week.
(5/13/14) MouseSteps takes a walk through Disney’s Polynesian Resort to check on the latest construction progress on those water bungalows and to get a last look at the lobby area, as it currently is, before the drastic remodel will change it all.
(5/5/14) Great news for Walt Disney World has Disney has confirmed that the Polynesian Resort will be renamed back to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. As part of the renovation other improvements will also be made, including the previously mentioned water bungalows, a complete renovation to the resort’s lobby area as well as the creation of the highly themed Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, based on the very popular Trader Sam’s lounge that opened at the Disneyland Hotel back in 2011.
(4/22/14) This week’s look at the progress on the Water Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Resort comes in from OrlandoParksNews.com.
(4/10/14) A new look at the Water Bungalow construction project at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has been posted to MouseSteps this week. I’ve got to admit, I’m really liking the look of this new addition, as it should provide a very unique and special new resort option you can’t find anywhere else in Walt Disney World.
(3/17/14) Special thanks to a reader for sending in two new pictures of the water bungalows under construction at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
(3/12/14) MouseSteps ventures over to Disney’s Polynesian Resort this week to check out the latest construction progress on the resorts top-secret expansion. The big surprise here is that the framework for the first of the water bungalow rooms is already up, confirming that our earlier suspicions were right on the money.
(1/30/14) The latest construction progress from Disney’s Polynesian Beach Resort has been posted to Orlando Park News, showing off the large new pathway over the water that they’ve been busy putting into place.
(12/31/13) Construction of all those pier style water pathways that will be used to access those new special waterside rooms being added to Disney’s Polynesian Resort can be found over at OrlandoParkNews this week.
(10/29/13) Construction on the shoreline and former Sunset Point area at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has begun. You can find the latest pictures posted to MouseSteps.
(9/18/13) Disney confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel what Screamscape told you a month ago… Disney’s Polynesian Resort will be the next one to add a DVC Wing, with construction set to begin in about a month. Disney wouldn’t go into details about the size or nature of the expansion and improvements on the way, but we can expect to see it ready to open in 2015.
(8/21/13) Want to see more about Disney’s plans for the Polynesian Resort? The ever resourceful Chris Con was able to dig up permit plans Disney has filed for the project, showing off in more detail just what Disney seems to have planned for their waterfront property. In the first two images you can see the shoreline north of the Tahiti building as well as all around Sunset Point. Out in the water, they have placed a large number of little black squares that represent new pilings they will drive into the floor of the Seven Seas Lagoon here, as well as floating barrier that will separate this new development from the open lagoon waters. Closing closer there are twenty sets of pilings in a rectangle shape, all in a row along the shore, which we believe will represent 20 individual and very special “water bungalow” rooms (see the third image with the green circles). There are other various spots with pilings between here and the shoreline that should be for the walkways that will connect these 20 rooms to the mainland.
Want to see just what these exclusive rooms might look like? Ironically, I found a great image showing off another real set of water bungalow rooms built off the shore of the real Tahiti island that will give you a perfect idea of what Disney seems to have in store. It looks like paradise doesn’t it? Hats off to Disney for this one… though the only real heartbreaker in this whole plan is that this is going into a lake in Florida and not into the real ocean, and swimming in the Seven Seas Lagoon is not permitted for both health and safety reasons. Otherwise… you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful looking unique room for special Walt Disney World vacation memory… perfect for a honeymoon trip. In other news, I’ve been told that the Tahiti building is just Building 10, Building 11 is the next building to the south which will also be part of this new transformation plan.
(8/19/13) New rumors about what may be involved with the DVC expansion into the Polynesian Resort plans have come my way. I’m not exactly sure how this will all work, but I’ve been told that new DVC rooms will take over 2 of the existing buildings closest to the TTC, known internally as Building 10 and 11, which I think are better known as the Tahiti buildings. The outside color of these buildings will be changed to appear different from the other Poly resort buildings that have undergone rehab. In addition to remodeled rooms in Building 10 & 11, as well as twenty water bungalows built onto the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon itself. A new boardwalk would be built to connect these with the rest of the resort, possibly running from near Building 5 near Sunset Point and along the beach moving down towards the TTC Ferry dock area. The resort may get a slightly new name as well, being called Disney’s Polynesian Village.
It’s just a guess on my part based on this information, but I’ve highlighted in yellow on an aerial image of the resort where I believe the location of all this work will take place.
(9/17/12) Screamscape sources tell me that the start date for the big resort-wide rehab on the Poly was pushed back from September 2012 until at least January 2013. The plan is to completely remodel each resort building top to bottom, one at a time. In addition to new room improvements they are looking to brighten up the rooms and walk-ways which are said to be a little on the dark side. While there are always rumors about a possible DVC wing addition, this seems unlikely to happen until after the Grand Floridian project is over. Speaking of which, be sure to check out this week’s new photo update of the Grand Flo as well.
(9/14/12) ParkScope reports that Disney has filed building permits to perform room renovations at the Polynesian Resort. If your planning a stay here, plan accordingly.
2016 - Disney Springs - (11/20/14) Disney Imagineering has installed a new logo for the “Springs Bottling Co.” atop the building that used to feature one of the most famous Pleasure Island signs this week. Check out the time lapse video below.
The Disney Springs plan is still in flux it seems, as Screamscape was sent an interesting comment from a Downtown Disney insider about changes to the plans for the West Side. “The original plan was to have an elevator and ramps up to the Highline for people to sit there and eat. However, this idea has been canceled. There is currently no plan to have access to it now and they have even altered the original artist renderings for it. The skyline is pretty much just cosmetic and used for lighting, speakers, and foliage. As well as a place to stand under when it rains.”
(11/12/14) WDWNT has posted some new concept artwork leaked for the conversion of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs.
(11/3/14) I’m told that the general public is now expected to be allowed to use the new parking structure at Downtown Disney starting Nov. 20th.
(10/29/14) Our friends at Theme Park Adventure have posted a detailed report on what you can expect to find at The Boathouse, the latest Schussler Creative restaurant concept said to be opening in Spring 2015 at the new Disney Springs area known as “The Landing”, formerly known as Pleasure Island. From the artwork it appears that The Boathouse will take over the area formerly used by the Motions and Rock & Roll Beach Cclub.
Meanwhile Disney Parks Blog has also released some new artwork showing off the fate of the former Mannequins building at Pleasure Island, which will be transformed into Morimoto Asia, a new one of a kind restaurant from famous Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The new restaurant will be his first pan-Asian restaurant, “featuring flavors from across the continent” as well as having unique “exhibition kitchens”. The two-story Morimoto Asia will open in Summer 2015, also at The Landing along with waterside seating, terraces and grand hall and cocktail lounge.
Meanwhile, OrlandoParkNews reports that Disney Cast Members will be the first to begin using the new parking structure at Downtown Disney sometime in the next few days.
(9/24/14) DaMouse has posted a new photo update of the Disney Springs construction site, complete with aerial photos of the site.
(9/2/14) OrlandoParkNews takes another look inside Downtown Disney at the latest construction changes to Walt Disney World’s expanding retail and dining complex, including some more great looks at the massive new parking structure.
(8/25/14) The latest Disney Springs construction update has been posted to Orlando Parks News this week as the parking structure rises into the sky and construction walls surround the Planet Hollywood area and old bridge entrance to the former Pleasure Island area. Further down the framework for new restaurants is going up quickly while the water bridge from Rainforest Café over to towards Fulton’s is nearing competition.
(7/25/14) ThrillGeek has posted a couple of new renderings showing off how the new parking structures at Downtown Disney (Disney Springs) will look when finished, along with how the road access into them will change the look of things forever.
(7/17/14) The following construction warning / update was issued to all Walt Disney World departments earlier this week, detailing new changes to the traffic flow of Buena Vista Drive and access into Downtown Disney:
As Downtown Disney paves the way for Disney Springs, Monday, July 14 marks a significant milestone as work on Buena Vista Drive shifts from the preparation phase to a major roadwork phase. This work will be even more visible and will continue through the duration of the expansion project.
Those driving on Buena Vista Drive can expect potential delays and should plan for extra travel time.
In addition, speed limits along Buena Vista Drive are now reduced to 35 miles per hour near Downtown Disney. Drivers on this road should remember to travel slowly and safely.
This phase of roadwork will include the following:
· Medians will be paved
· Concrete barrier walls will be used to shift lanes to one side during heavy construction
· Buena Vista Drive will be reduced from three lanes to two lanes going both directions along portions of the road from Bonnet Creek Parkway to Hotel Plaza Boulevard
· Access to Downtown Disney by vehicle will be shifted to:
· Entrance 2 across from the Hess Station
· Entrance 5 across from Typhoon Lagoon
· Various entrances and turn lanes may be closed during different phases of this work
· The SunTrust building intersection will be reduced to right-turn-in/right-turn-out only for cars
Some sidewalk access will also change during this phase of work including:
· Downtown Disney side of Buena Vista Drive:
· The sidewalk directly in front of the new parking garage (across the street from Team Disney) will close permanently to pedestrian traffic
· A small section of sidewalk across the street from the Hess Station and Casting Building that connects to the back of existing Cast Services Building will close permanently
· Team Disney side of Buena Vista Drive:
· The sidewalk between the main Team Disney entrance and the Team Disney back entrance along Buena Vista Drive will close permanently
This work is an extremely important part of the transformation from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs – the largest expansion in Downtown Disney history that will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences available.
To support this growth and make the area even easier to access, Reedy Creek Improvement District will be enhancing the roadways. Future improvements will include widening Buena Vista Drive to 10 lanes, adding dedicated bus lanes and creating convenient pedestrian bridges that will allow Guests and Cast Members to safely cross over Buena Vista Drive to Downtown Disney.
(7/14/14) A good photo update showing off the latest changes all around Downtown Disney as the transformation into Disney Springs continues, can be found at OrlandoParksNews.
(6/30/14) The latest photos from the Downtown Disney / Disney Springs construction site can be found at MouseSteps this week. According to more than a few reports however, getting in and out of Downtown Disney at this stage in the game is becoming almost more frustrating than it is worth, as the limited parking spaces are quickly filled by the busy summer crowds by lunchtime and the area remains packs until well after dark.
(6/3/14) OrlandoParksNews has a new update from Downtown Disney this week, with a focus on the newly opened Starbucks location.
(5/29/14) DaMouse has posted a new construction update from the Disney Springs project this week, with a few new aerial photos of the site.
(5/22/14) The new Starbucks at Downtown Disney, next to the World of Disney store, is now open according to DaMouse. Meanwhile, over on the West Side, the new Wetzel’s Pretzels and Haagen-Dazs locations have also opened around the side from the exit of DisneyQuest.
(5/12/14) A new Downtown Disney construction update showing off a lot of the progress being made in the parking lot area has been posted by OrlandoParksNews.
(5/7/14) DaMouse has a new update from Disney Springs this week, showing off the concrete work going into place for the new large causeway bridge that will span a large portion of the former Downtown Disney waterway.
(5/5/14) DaMouse returns to the future Disney Springs site for another construction update, focusing on the West Side progress and the new Starbucks location.
(4/30/14) A Screamscape reader sent in some new concept artwork (see below) released for the Disney Springs project. They have also informed me that a new structure will go up in the parking lot behind Cirque will simply be a service building, while the new Cast Wardrobe building for Disney Springs will be built across the street, near the Hess gas station.
(4/25/14) A new Disney Springs / Downtown Disney construction update comes to us this week from MouseSteps where they took to the air on the Characters in Flight balloon to get a great look at what is really going on around the whole area.
While we’re on the subject, a number of big name restaurants are said to be in talks with Disney to set up shop in Disney Springs in 2016. According to this article the list includes: STK (steakhouse), Morimoto (Japanese & Sushi), The Edison (a unique themed restaurant concept from Los Angeles) and The Boathouse (seafood from the Landry’s chain). I’m all for a new steakhouse, and while I’m unsure of how well a Japanese/Sushi place would work, I thought Fulton’s had the seafood market covered, so I just don’t get why adding The Boathouse is a good idea. If Landry’s wants to drop in another semi-themed restaurant with good food, I’d rather see Claim Jumper come to Disney Springs. I think the themeing would be a good fit, if nothing else.
(4/23/14) A new construction update from the Downtown Disney / Disney Springs area has been posted to OrlandoParksNews.com this week. Looks like the first new parking structure is already heading up into the sky.
(3/28/14) I haven’t read this anywhere else yet, but but the Pollo Campero restaurant that replaced the old McDonalds a couple of years, along with the other two food stands inside (Bodie’s and Babycakes) have closed down for good. No word on what might replace it yet, but I think the entire building could possibly be removed as part of the Disney Springs transformation.
Meanwhile permits have been filed to install a new unknown restaurant venue into the Pleasure Island building structure that used to be home to 8-Trax and Mannequins. The OBJ reports that it will be run by The Patina Restaurant Group, who are the company behind the new Via Napoli Restorante and Tutto Italia & Tutto Gusta restaurants inside Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. They also run a number of different style restaurants around the New York and Los Angeles area, including five others at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney (Catal, UVA, Naples, Tortilla Jo’s and Taqueria).
(3/6/14) DaMouse ventures into Downtown Disney this week to check on the latest construction walls to go up in the West Side as the slow conversion into Disney Springs rolls on. This week the grassy area next to Bongo’s Cuban Café has now been walled off from view.
(2/21/14) DaMouse takes a visit to Downtown Disney to check out the latest Disney Springs construction progress this week as they’ve begun work on a new bridge across the water.
(2/12/14) DaMouse takes us into Downtown Disney this week for a peek at the two new Starbucks locations that are now rising up, one in the West Side and the other one which is in the Marketplace tucked into a nook between two of the entry passanges into the World of Disney store.
(2/1/14) As previously noted the new quick service dining area outside of the House of Blues at Downtown Disney is now open and DaMouse ventures over to take a look around and give a brief review of the menu items they sampled.
(1/27/14) I’m told that most, if not all, of the outdoor movie props have been removed from around the Planet Hollywood building, which seems to be the first sign that Disney may be ready to begin the conversion of the globe building by adding the new Observatory themed exterior façade. If you visit Downtown Disney, keep your eyes open.
(1/20/14) A new photo update from Downtown Disney was posted to MouseSteps this week showing off the new Smokehouse at House of Blues (including the menu), construction on the new Starbucks and other new Disney Springs additions.
(1/13/14) We can take a look at the latest progress on the Disney Springs project over at OrlandoParkNews this week. Lots of changes are already starting to take place on the West Side area, as the parking structure supports being to rise out front.
(12/24/13) According to a Screamscape source, Apple may soon drop into Walt Disney World in a big way. If the latest rumors hold true, Disney may sign an agreement with Apple to build the biggest Apple store in the world as part of the Disney Springs project. Currently the record for biggest Apple store goes to one that opened in Amsterdam in 2012.
Announcements about this, the new theme for the Planet Hollywood building (Observatory) and other exciting new tenants coming to the first phase of the Disney Springs plan are expended to be made in late Spring 2014 season, most likely at the planned Media events for the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
(12/20/13) The latest construction pictures from Downtown Disney as the Disney Springs conversion slowly takes place can be found over at OrlandoParksNews this week.
(12/17/13) I’m told that a second Starbucks location is under construction at Downtown Disney right now, building it into the front of the existing World of Disney store in the Marketplace area.
(12/11/13) A look at the latest updates to Downtown Disney and the construction of the new parking structure can be seen over at Orlando Park News this week. Want an even better look from a new angle? Then check out the new aerial photos of the Downtown Disney / Disney Springs transformation project that have been posted to WDWNT.com.
(12/4/13) Construction on the Disney Springs project isn’t just in the retail area, construction is now moving ahead quickly in the parking lot as crews work on the new multi-level parking structure. The old lot in this area has been cleared and several vertical columns that will support the new structure are now in place, as well as a couple of tower cranes. Take a look at the latest pictures posted to OrlandoParksNews.
(11/20/13) Disney World reports that a new pathway has just opened at Downtown Disney, aiding guest flow connecting the West Side with the Pleasure Island area, while going along a scenic path along Village Lake past the Pleasure Island Boat Dock.
(11/12/13) The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Team Mickey store, a semi-popular sport-themed Disney merchandise shop at Downtown Disney, will soon close to make way for a new store within a store concept called the Marketplace Co Op. The new Co Op store will feature slots of six different shops within, featuring items like beauty & fashion accessories, home products, D-Tech on Demand electronic accessories and more. Look for the new store to open in Spring 2014.
(10/24/13) Walt Disney World, through their private government (Reedy Creek) is apparently now seeking funds to build as many as three pedestrian bridges over the busy Buena Vista Drive as part of the Downtown Disney transformation into Disney Springs over the next few years.
(10/3/13) A new construction report from Disney Springs can be found at DaMouse.
(7/23/13) MouseSteps takes a look at Downtown Disney this week which has closed off several of the parking lots to begin construction on the new Disney Springs project.
(3/22/13) Curious to know a bit more about the planned parking arrangement at Disney Springs? According to the Orlando Sentinel, there will be two separate parking structures built at the two ends of the property, one 4-story structure with 4000 parking spaces and a smaller 3-story structure that will offer 2000 spaces. One of them will apparently even be attached directly to the I-4 so you can exit the freeway directly into the parking structure. The interesting thing is that the Walt Disney Company will not own them and nor will they have to pay for them.
Instead Disney’s own government, Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was set up 40 years ago to oversee all aspects of the Walt Disney World property, will pay the $85 million bill for the parking structures. By using their own government muscles, Reedy Creek can avoid paying sales tax on the materials used for the construction and finance the project with 20-year tax-free bonds. This is all in line with the powers granted to Reedy Creek by the state of Florida 40 years ago. As the article in the Sentinel puts it best, they “gave the district the ability to build parking garages — along with everything from an airport to a nuclear-power plant.”
Given that the Walt Disney World property really is the size of an actual city, it does only make sense that they also can wield the power of one when they have to.
(3/15/13) After saying they had nothing to announce the day before, Disney opened up and confirmed all their plans for Disney Springs the very next day. Disney Springs is a way to transform Downtown Disney into a new themed environment with its own story and theme behind it.
“Our fundamental goal is to create a welcoming, comfortable space where families can enjoy time together and instantaneously feel right at home. We want to give them opportunities to relax, to be entertained, to wander in and out of unique and distinctive shops or enjoy a world-class dining experience. And because we are Disney, we’ve anchored the entire experience around a story that gives us the ability to deliver on the legendary place-making and creativity for which we are known. The result is Disney Springs, a timeless and vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside towns that dotted the Florida landscape.”
Once complete, the newly dubbed Disney Springs will expand from 75 to over 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, featuring “some of the world’s most iconic brands and restaurants.” Construction will begin in April as they begin the process of transforming Downtown Disney into Disney Springs phase by phase, with expectations to complete it all by 2016.
(3/14/13) Ok, the rumored announcement for yesterday was a bust, and Disney had nothing to say. Of course that rumor also came second hand and seemed a bit off as my own sources had told me weeks ago to expect the next big press event from Walt Disney World to take place around April 26th. So lets just pencil in that general time period and hope for the best, but in all seriousness, anything can and still may happen, since at the time I was given the April 26th date, the plans and layouts for Disney Springs had not yet leaked. So far, in true Disney form, they have kept their lips zipped on this leak so far, and aren’t likely to rush to make an announcement until they are ready. After all, usually when Disney plans a big announcement, they have more than one trick up their sleeve to show off, so stay tuned.
(3/8/13) A great update regarding the future Disney Springs plans can be found over at The WDWNT Network which features some all new concept artwork.
(3/4/13) Good news for fans of Downtown Disney’s Planet Hollywood. According to Screamscape sources who spoke with some anonymous Planet Hollywood peeps the big globe restaurant will be getting an extensive makeover sometime during the next year or so, along with a slightly new name… but it will still essentially be the same Planet Hollywood you’ve come to know, with the same popular menu items.
From this we assume that the structure will be visually transformed to appear less globe-like, and look more like a large themed observatory building instead. I’m also going to guess that the new name for the restaurant may be something along the lines of ‘The Observatory at Planet Hollywood”. Which I actually kind of like to idea of an Observatory theme for a Planet Hollywood restaurant… after all you are there to gaze upon “the stars” are you not? As for the food… it’s nice to know you can still get your fix of Captain Crunch Chicken in Orlando.
(2/18/13) ParkRumors posted a great scoop over the weekend, uncovering a little something filed under the project name “The BVD Corridor Stormwater Project”, which really seems to be Disney’s new masterplan to redevelop the former Pleasure Island area. The old “Hyperion Wharf” idea has floundered and sunk, but this new plan will change the face of Downtown Disney forever.
According to the report, Downtown Disney will be re-branded as “Disney Springs”, which will then feature six themed areas: The Gateway, The Town Center, The Springs, The Landing and the two areas we know well: The West Side and The Village Marketplace.
Gateway will be the entrance area into this new shopping complex, which will feature access and parking in an ample 5 story parking garage that will take over the parking lot just in front of the World of Disney Store and extend down towards the intersection where the Hess gas station sits. The inner lot parking lot area, often used for Valet parking will be developed to become part of this new development. The cast member building and facilities that will be displaced by this will be moved into the tiny lot that is essentially behind the Team Mickey and Once Upon a Toy store area.
Park your car in the new structure and you’ll wandering into The Town Center, an all new themed retail area built on top of former parking lot space. Beyond here is The Springs, which will have shops along the now themed waterway that already exists, running from the old West Side entrance to Pleasure Island, past Planet Hollywood and exit again into the lake behind the steamship that houses Fulton’s. Oh… speaking of Planet Hollywood, the plan has filled in that portion of the waterway and relabeled the Planet Hollywood building as “The Observatory” which doesn’t bode well for the future of one of the last PH’s in existence. The many bridges that exist to cross over the waterway will remain, along with a few new bridges added to taking guests into the former Pleasure Island area that will now be rethemed as “The Landing”, which will be the center for an array of dining and drinking establishments.
The West Side will remain mostly unchanged, while is appears that the old bus drop off area at the Marketplace will be developed into a new retail pathway that will feature a couple of large new retail store buildings, leading to a new bridge that will cross over into the Saratoga Springs Resort.
While this looks to be a much grander and better plan than the old Hyperion Wharf proposal, I do have one important question. For years… decades even, Downtown Disney has been begging for a parking structure to help them handle the crowds during the most busy times of year. Previous Disney management was only willing to fund such a project IF they were willing to start charging for parking at Downtown Disney. Obviously no one wants to see paid parking come to Downtown Disney, which is why we have never seen a parking structure added… until now.
So will Walt Disney World start to ask people to pay to park at Downtown Disney / Disney Springs from now on? Maybe they will only charge you for Premium Parking if you want in the structure and keep the surface lots free? Or hopefully, they will see the added benefit of having the structure as a replacement for the lost surface lots, which will result is increased income from retail sales and leases from outside operators. Lets hope for the later, because no one wants to pay for parking at Downtown Disney.
OTHER WALT DISNEY WORLD PROJECTS:
Monorail System News - (11/26/14) A few of our more Monorail savvy readers chimed in to let me know more about the WDW Monorail automation program, which is indeed still in the process of being installed, tested and refined. The interesting thing is that the plan still includes an actual pilot still in the seat of the monorail, but they are there for the purpose of being a backup and having someone able to take the controls manually if needed.
The goal of the program is to try and automate the movement of the monorails around the beams, and try to keep them moving at all times, without going into stationary holds, waiting for a train ahead to move out of the way. Instead the automated system would slow the train down to an appropriate speed, while trying to avoid stopping. Needed information sensors and wireless data transmission systems are being added to the beams and stations so that the exact position of each train can be seen in real-time on a master tracking system (as well as view the POV camera feed), as well as the ability to send the actual arrival time of the next train to a display in each station. The automated system would also be easier on the drive system of each train, as it would gradually shift up and down through the throttle levels at a rate that would remove the excessive stress of an eager pilot slamming the throttle to the max, or braking too hard at the last second.
I’m told that full scale testing of the automated system was planned to begin sometime in 2015. According to a post on Monorails.org, who has more technical data on the automation system hardware itself, Monorail Teal has already been retrofitted with the new automation system and has been doing the majority of the initial guinea pig testing of the concept before installing it throughout the rest of the fleet.
(11/24/14) The Walt Disney World Monorail system has been rumored to have been working on and testing a fully automated system for quite some time now, that would remove the need for a driver from the monorails. This would essentially make the Disney system work, more or less, like the Las Vegas Monorail system, which is based on the same design as Disney, as they started it on the initial private line that ran between the MGM Grand and Ballys by purchasing a pair of retired Disney monorail trains.
While we haven't heard much about the proposed Disney automation plan, a reader did notice what looked like a new control podium now installed on the resort line station at the TTC that would be used to control these automated trains. Can any of our more monorail-savvy readers give us an update on this?
(3/7/13) A very interesting report on the possible future of the WDW Monorail system was posted over at Monorails.org a few weeks back. Their sources claim that a group named Thales Transportation has been hired to design and update the entire WDW Monorail system over the next two years to become a fully automated system, while still using the existing Mark VI fleet.
The monorail Pilots will remain onboard, but only to serve as a babysitter to monitor the train systems. The trains themselves will simply be dispatched, much like any other Disney ride, by an operator at the station. The rumored budget for the project is said to be around $75 million. The article also claims that they may look into reversing the path the monorails take around the beams in order to prevent driving backwards through a beam-switch, but that doesn’t quite make sense to me, as they will still have to drive backwards through the switch, just on the way out to the beam instead of going off the beam.
(4/5/12) I’ve heard this rumor countless times before… but a good source claims that Walt Disney World may be taking another long hard look at expanding the resorts iconic Monorail system once again in order to cut back on their reliance on bus transportation and move towards a functional mass transit network that would service all of the theme parks and bigger attractions eventually. Stay tuned.
(9/14/11) There have been several new reports coming in about what may be near daily breakdowns in the system. I’ve reported in the past on how the WDW Monorail fleet has aged to the point where it is beyond its expected life span and in need of replacement, though to date, it does not seem as if any orders have gone out to construct a new fleet. Even if those orders were issued today, it would likely be another two years or so before the first new monorail could begin test runs on the beams. Case in point… it’s already been over two years since the deadly monorail accident of 2009, and Disney is just now getting the rebuilt monorail back on the beam for testing.
Lets hope Disney is ready to starting ordering some new trains soon, otherwise we could be looking at a repeat of how Disneyland’s Monorail system was just driven to the breaking point, and trains were cannibalized for parts to keep others running until even that wasn’t enough any more. At least the Disneyland Monorail is primarily used for entertainment purposes… unlike the WDW system which is quite vital to ensure the transportation of guests from the Magic Kingdom to the parking lot, as well as shuttling guests between Epcot and the Magic Kingdom.
(7/15/11) According to the Orlando Sentinel, Walt Disney World has begun to trim back the operational schedule of the Monorail fleet. They claim it is due to the age of the current monorail fleet (Mark VI Monorails launched in 1989) and the extended summer hours mixed with the necessary time (90 minutes) to start-up and shut-down the line, can reduce the amount of downtime to as little as one hour per day. The new schedule will see the Monrails shut down 1 hour after the scheduled public park closing time. The new hours are already in effect for the Epcot line and will begin on the Magic Kingdom line starting August 1st. While this will not affect most park guests, those affected most will be the resort guests staying late for the Extra Magic Hours who will be forced to use the Boat or Bus transportation options when leaving.
I do have to wonder just how much longer WDW will be able to continue to run the Mark VI fleet. For comparison’s sake, the Disneyland Mark V Monorails ran between 1987 before being retired in 2008, 21 years later with the introduction of the new Mark VII Monorails. While the WDW Fleet is now older than the last retired Disneyland fleet, I believe they did undergo some kind of system controls upgrade in the mid 2000’s. Eventually though, the Mark VI line is going to be in need of replacement.
Western Beltway Development / Flamingo Crossings / Possible 5th Theme Park - (11/19/14) As we have been following for some time, it seems clear Walt Disney World is performing some kind of land-grab by adding new property and planning to exchange some of the property they have reserved for wetlands preservation to make bigger chunks of property they can develop. Previously we were led to believe that the new chunk of property added near Flamingo Crossings, might be for a 5th theme park. The latest rumor sent in from an anonymous source however claims that the property’s true intention may be closer to what it was already zoned for by the previous developer… housing. In this case, our source claims that the former housing development property may still be used for housing, but in this case, it will be for new housing for Walt Disney World’s vast College Program Cast Members program. Currently the College Program housing areas are located just on the other side of I-4, in close proximity to local shops, but I’m told the addition of a new housing area on the West side of WDW property would allow Disney to position College Program CM’s into housing closer to their work locations.
(10/17/14) The Orlando Sentinel reports that the developer behind the first two hotels coming to Flamingo Crossings said that he plans on building a total of seven resort hotels on the property over the next 4-5 years. The announcements for the second two hotels is expected to be made within the next year, and have those two open in 2017, while the first two (TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites) will open in January 2016.
While this would have the four hotels up and running in time for the Avatar land to open at nearby Animal Kingdom, nothing was brought up about the rumors of a possible 5th Disney theme park in the backyard of the new hotels. With a plan to build 7 hotels on the barren western outskirts of Disney property, I’m still thinking someone knows a bit more about what the future may hold for the site than they are letting on.
(10/10/14) Screamscape has been informed that the new Springhill Suites and Towneplace Suites at Flamingo Crossings will be breaking ground on October 16, and projected to open by January 2016.
(10/8/14) So if Disney were to be planning a 5th theme park, the big question is going to be… what would the theme(s) of it be?
Finding something that is the right fit for Walt Disney World may be tougher than you might think, as the best idea would be something that would not be a repeat of anything that already exists, while still being able to compliment the themes and ideas already used in the other parks.
For example… many of your might scream for a Star Wars themed park… and while this could be a possible idea, the existence of Star Tours over at the Studios park might make this troublesome.
Marvel? Not going to happen… at least not without Disney coming to some kind of terms with Universal for a partial or full buy-out of their current Marvel contract for Islands of Adventure.
Pixar? Possible… as I’m sure we would see some elements from Pixar films in a 5th theme park, but I doubt we would see an entire park themed to nothing but Pixar films. Especially as many of Pixar’s big films already have attractions spread throughout the Walt Disney World parks: Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom, It’s Tough To Be A Bug at Animal Kingdom and Toy Story Midway Mania over at the Studios.
Frozen? Ehhhh… not going to go there. Plus Frozen is coming to Epcot. But for a fun tonuge-in-cheek look at what an entire park themed to Frozen could be like, TotalOrlando has come ideas.
Perhaps our best clues could come in the form of what Disney Imagineering is rumored to have been toying with for themed for other possible land and park themes elsewhere in the world, as well as hit attractions that have opened at parks outside Florida that may not fit very well into one of the four existing parks. For example, one of the rumored possible themed for a 3rd park planned for California was said to have an overall theme about “Heroes and Adventure”, which sounds a lot like Islands of Adventure, doesn’t it? While the overall concept sounds like a solid base to build upon, many of the rumored land concepts (Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and Pixar) might not work in Florida.
Looking to Tokyo DisneySea, as well as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland parks might also shed some light on attraction ideas, allowing Disney to hand-pick some of the more popular rides from each park. Hong Kong’s Mystic Manor certainly is very popular, and features a trackless ride system we haven’t seen used in the US yet. While the Shanghai park is adding many Disney staples, there are a few unique ideas like the Tron Lightcycles Power Run coaster, or the rumored new flume ride system said to be put to use for their version of Pirates of the Caribbean that could be repurposed to work with a new theme. Of course the greatest collection of ideas we haven’t seen anywhere in the US could come from DisneySea… with hit attractions like StormRider, Aquatopia, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage, Raging Spirits or even a copy of Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull would fit in nicely (especially if they retire the Indy show at the studios).
Of course, looking back, the most popular idea that became all the rage with the internet’s Disney fans many years ago was the rumored concept for a Villians park, also known as Dark Kingdom. I kind of like the idea of a mixture of a Heroes/Adventure park concept with the Dark Kingdom concept myself. In the end, the possibilities are endless, so we’ll just have to wait and see if this rumored 5th gate plan comes true or not.
(10/6/14) WDWNT reports that construction is starting in the old Flamingo Crossing project area at the end of Western Way, that will see the build out of two new Marriott chain hotels: TownePlace Suites and Spring Hill Suites, with a combined total of 500 rooms.
Now I’m going to add a little something to this story… as back in August I was told that Disney has been quietly buying up even more land in the Flamingo Crossing area, stretching out to the west and north from the intersection of Western Way and 429. Overall it seems they own over 3,000 acres out there now and filed a huge 900 page application to show off how they are planning to develop it… in particular with a lot of attention to a specific area 300 acre section of it. I’m told that the whole 3000 acre addition has already been annexed by Reedy Creek, putting it fully under Disney’s control, and the property was previously ear-marked by the previous owner for a large housing development project.
So why the build up of land outside Flamingo Crossings? The working theory is that they may be setting up the site for a future 5th theme park gate. Building their newest theme park outside the previously known existing WDW property would be both unexpected, but also suddenly give all that Flamingo Crossing property they are trying to lease out to new developers a HUGE push, as they would all be right on the doorstep of this newest theme park.
So if this is all true, and Disney is looking to finally build a 5th theme park… when would they do it? If I had to guess, I’d say 2021 would be a perfect time to open a fifth park, just in time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, and 6-7 years would also seem to fit Disney’s lengthy development cycle for new parks.
(5/12/14) Behind the Thrills reports that plans for two new non-Disney branded hotels have been posted for the Walt Disney World property, going into the undeveloped Flamingo Crossings area on the West side of the resort property. The two hotels will be partially joined Marriot branded hotels (Springhill Suites & Towneplace Suites) that will share a pool and gym area located between the two. Follow the link to see the plans and details.
(3/22/12) While we haven’t heard so much as a peep about the Western Beltway development area that Disney said they would name Flamingo Crossings, I did come across something this week. While searching through the trademark database, I did find a new filing by Disney for “Flamingo Crossings” filed on March 7, 2012. Perhaps they are getting ready to do something here after all.
(12/4/07) According to the Orlando Sentinel private developers and merchants will be able to run their own small restaurants, a grocery store, retail shops and even a few “value” level hotels as part of Walt Disney World’s new Western development project. Disney has begun to offer parcels for sale for the 450 acre development project that they are calling Flamingo Crossings off Western Way that will be built up over the next decade.
(3/12/07) Disney released some artwork of the Western Beltway Development project area with maps this week. For some reason it all looks very similar to the retail development off 192 just outside Celebration,
(3/1/07) Walt Disney World made two surprise announcements today about a major expansions planned for the resort: The new Four Seasons resort and their Western Beltway Development plans. Disney is planning to develop a 450 acre retail and commercial development just outside the gateway near where Western Way meets the Western Beltway. This new area will include even more 3rd party branded hotels (4,000 to 5,000 rooms), restaurants and gift shops that will be built in phases over the next 10 years with site work also to begin before the end of the year.