On March 14, Walt Disney World officially announced its latest plans to expand and makeover its Downtown Disney area. Dubbed Disney Springs, the multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney (DTD) will retain the area’s focus as a shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
Disney Springs will add its namesake water feature, open-air promenades and an emphasis on the area’s waterfront. Disney Springs will add a layer of storytelling to DTD, envisioning the areas in terms of look as a turn-of-the century waterfront town once commonly found in 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, in a press statement.
“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 is expected to begin construction next month. It will open in phases, with Downtown Disney remaining open during the project. Disney Springs is expected to be complete in 2016.
Disney Springs to offer four distinct neighborhoods
In addition to a new gateway, water tower and grand entry, Disney Springs will feature four different outdoor neighborhoods connected by the springs and waterfront theme:
- 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.
Disney Springs to offer even more shopping and dining
Disney Springs is expected to add even more shopping and dining options to DTD, as well as other venues, doubling the number of establishments to 150. While the establishments have yet to be identified, the announcement claims an “eclectic and contemporary mix” of Disney and other “noteworthy” brands and promises a combination of boutique and flagship stores.
According to Staggs, Disney Springs will benefit not only Walt Disney World but have an effect on Central Florida, with more jobs, tax revenues and business opportunities. He estimates the project will create approximately 1,200 construction jobs and nearly 4,000 operational roles.
A more extensive makeover of DTD, Disney Springs replaces the plans to transform Pleasure Island into Hyperion Wharf. That project, announced in 2010, was quietly put aside in 2011.
Staggs referenced previous plans for DTD, presumably Hyperion Wharf, in today’s announcement on Disney Parks Blog: “And we have even scrapped a few preliminary plans that we felt didn’t measure up to our aspirations for this place.”
That Downtown Disney was to be renamed Disney Springs has long been rumored within the Disney fan community. Early mentions of the project were made on WDW Magic, an unofficial Disney site that has closely followed the project. The site has an active WDW Park News and Rumors forum where Disney Springs has been, and continues to be, discussed.
More information on elements to the Disney Springs project will be shared as information is released.