As an early visitor to Walt Disney World, back in 1983, one of my very favorite parts of our vacation was the Lake Buena Vista Village Marketplace area, or “The Village” as my family called it. Our first visits to WDW included stays at the Lake Buena Vista Vacation Villas, part of a set of villas where Saratoga Springs now resides. Your stay at one of the villas (larger town-home style rooms with bedrooms, a living area and kitchen) included a golf cart, and we would ride over to the Village every day, either for breakfast at the Empress Lilly, dinner at Heidelberg’s Deli, or for stocking up on snacks at the Gourmet Pantry. It was such a truly relaxed, unique area; it became forever engrained in my memories as “Walt Disney World.”
Over time, changes took place at the Village Marketplace, and Downtown Disney, Pleasure Island, and West Side were born. More and more visitors came to Walt Disney World and Disney answered with more shopping and dining experiences. But something was lost along the way: that relaxing, Florida feeling that made such an impression on me as a child. So when I heard the latest announcement regarding Disney Springs, I was thrilled that perhaps this would again be a place for beautiful sites and memories to be born. Hearing the description with emphasis on meandering springs, open-air promenades and waterfront charm gives me hope for this new area to capture the right balance of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Here is the official announcement from Disney this morning:
Disney Springs will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands. From boutique shops to unique flagship anchor stores, guests will be able to explore a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences and discover options unlike any other currently available in Central Florida.
“Disney Springs will be a timeless, vibrant place where Walt Disney World guests and local residents can relax, shop, dine and be entertained in an imaginative setting where they’ll instantly feel at home,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Featuring distinctive brands, world-class restaurants and unforgettable entertainment, Disney Springs will be brought to life with the same focus on storytelling and attention to detail that goes into our theme parks, resorts and cruise ships, resulting in a welcoming space that only Disney could create.”
Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, resulting in more than 150 establishments. In addition, Staggs noted, Central Florida stands to benefit from the expansion with more jobs, tax revenues and business opportunities.
Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs will include four outdoor neighborhoods interconnected by a flowing spring and vibrant lakefront. In addition to a new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry, the destination will feature:
- The Town Center, which offers a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax, refresh and reconnect.
- A colorful and thriving commercial district called The Landing with inspired dining and beautiful waterfront views.
- The family-friendly Marketplace that will continue to delight guests of all ages by combining new experiences, such as an over-the-water pedestrian causeway, along with classic Disney favorites, including an expanded World of Disney store.
- A West Side that provides an exuberant atmosphere with lively entertainment, along with a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below.
Collectively, these efforts will not only have an impact within Walt Disney World, but will also have an economic ripple effect on Central Florida. The project will create an estimated 1,200 construction jobs and nearly 4,000 operational roles.
Disney will share more details on specific experiences coming to Disney Springs in the future. Construction is slated to begin next month with new areas opening in phases. Disney Springs is expected to be complete in 2016.
What do you think of this announcement? Are you excited for Disney Springs? Disney has not officially announced the restaurants or shops which will sign on for Disney Springs, but one of the many rumors is Trader Sams, the tiki bar made so popular at the Disneyland Hotel. I’m very excited for the possibilities!