Disney Springs announced for Walt Disney World, replacing Downtown Disney with new waterfront shopping, dining

in Disney, Disney Springs, Downtown Disney, Entertainment, Featured, Food, Merchandise, Walt Disney World

disney-springs

Walt Disney World Resort  announced today the popular Downtown Disney area will be transformed into Disney Springs over the next few  years into a destination featuring more shopping, dining and entertainment with open-air promenades and springs all along the waterfront.

The announcement was officially made at Downtown Disney by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs and Walt Disney Imagineer Kathy Mangum, fresh off of years developing Cars Land for Disneyland in California and recently relocated to Florida to work on Disney Springs and other future theme park projects.

Construction is scheduled to begin in April 2013 with new areas opening in phases. Disney Springs is expected to be complete in 2016.

It’s a largely cosmetic makeover that will close to double the size of the existing area, though keeping many of its most popular venues while adding space for many new ones. Disney Springs will feature a mix of Disney and other brands, though specific venues have not yet been revealed. Included will be boutique shops and flagship anchor stores, with an emphasis on third party venues, which are reportedly footing the bill for at least half the cost of the project.

As part of the announcement to the press, Mangum and Staggs narrated a virtual tour of a Disney Springs model, enhanced by digital projects, as seen in the video below.


Disney Springs model


The model pictured below offers a nighttime overview of how Disney Springs will look when completed, stretching from the West Side to the Marketplace. For comparison to the current Downtown Disney area, note the Characters in Flight balloon in the back left of the model as well as the Planet Hollywood dome on the left.

Disney Springs model
Disney Springs model closer look

Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues at Downtown Disney, ultimately featuring more than 150 establishments. Some existing venues, including Captain Jack’s are likely to be replaced during the transition.

To ease parking in the area, two multi-story covered parking garages will be built as part of the project, along with new roadways for enhanced traffic flow. There will be no additional cost to park, nor will there be any admission charges to the area.

Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns, Disney Springs will include four outdoor neighborhoods interconnected by a flowing spring and lakefront. A new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry will be created.

Disney Springs concept artwork and plans

The new and updated areas are described by Disney as follows:

The Town Center, which offers a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax, refresh and reconnect. The Town Center (lower portion of the image) will offer one-of-a-kind shopping and dining experiences along a promenade while The Landing (upper portion of the image) will include inspired dining and beautiful waterfront views.

Disney Springs – Town Center and The Landing

A colorful and thriving commercial district called The Landing with inspired dining and beautiful waterfront views.

Disney Springs – The Landing

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.

Disney Springs – Marketplace

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 – West Side

Of all the new areas, the West Side appears to be the one that will remain the most unchanged. The former Pleasure Island area and the Marketplace sides of Downtown Disney will receive dramatic makeovers as part of the transformation to Disney Springs.

“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 Staggs. “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.”

The project will create an estimated 1,200 construction jobs and nearly 4,000 operational roles.

This isn’t the first time the Downtown Disney area has been renamed. It was first called the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village when it opened in 1975, later becoming Disney Village Marketplace in 1989, and ultimately Downtown Disney in 1995 including the addition of Pleasure Island.

It’s also not the first time Disney has announced a major renovation of Downtown Disney. Some time after Pleasure Island closed roughly five years ago, Disney announced an area called “Hyperion Wharf” would take its place by 2013, with plans explained in the video below that never came to fruition.

Though Hyperion Wharf’s announcement featured detailed concept art showing how the area would be changed, it was ultimately decided that project needed a grander scope, so the new Disney Springs project was born, with Tom Staggs noting “we have even scrapped a few preliminary plans that we felt didn’t measure up to our aspirations for this place.”

In 2006, Walt Disney World also announced a new shopping and dining area to be called Flamingo Crossings would be constructed along Western Way in another corner of the property featuring third party retail and dining locations, but that project never began construction. Some of those ideas seem to have been folded into the new Disney Springs project.

Disney will share more details on specific experiences coming to Disney Springs in the future.

60 Comments

  1. Gregory J. Kennedy

    Will Disney Quest stay open?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Disney hasn’t commented on any specific openings or closures, but it seems most major venues will remain intact, including DisneyQuest. (Obviously subject to change.)

  2. Jason Newkirk

    I think I liked the Wharf idea, just a little bit better. This design looks more like an outlet mall. At least from the pics.

  3. Jason

    Hoping they’ll bring back the Adventurer’s Club. That place was AMAZING. I miss it.

    Also, what about all those newly renovated places? Like the Lego store? The (as of Dec 27, still under renovation) Rainforest Cafe? Are they going to be re-renovated?

    Here’s hoping they also don’t get rid of the snowmen at the entrance. We ALWAYS take pictures with them.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Those places should remain the same. Disney Springs is mostly a makeover of existing walkways, adding new walkways, parking garages, and additional areas for new shopping and dining possibilities. Some existing venues will close, but the majority will stay the same.

  4. Steve H

    It appears the Lego Store is gone in the model. Probably be relocated, but interesting none the less.

  5. Shawn

    So, I take it you’re not real keen on the new directions Disney is taking? I don’t go to DTD much, mostly because parking on the Marketplace side is always so horrible. Maybe with Disney Springs at the very least the new parking garage will help.

  6. Where is this model? I’d love to get a look at it!

    1. Jon

      It was at the media event, I think

    2. Scott L

      We were just there and a photo showed a new bigger lego building beside a new TRex

  7. Jeany Sanchez

    Disney Springs is perfect! I love it!

  8. Dan Parker

    I like this idea. Making a great idea downtown Disney better. All of the parks constantly change why can’t this? I hope they do get a sweet Apple Store

    I also love the idea of a town. Small town America.

  9. Jeff Lynch

    I think these drawings look kind of bland and uninspired, I’m sorry. I like that Downtown Disney is getting this attention…but I wish they had gone with some kind of theme or story. I liked “Hyperion Wharf”. Disney Springs sounds like a retirement community.

  10. EricJ

    I like the idea of giving non-Pleasure Downtown a “theme” (which it hasn’t had since Disney Village), but Disney SPRINGS??
    That more suggests a leisurely spa getaway village, like, say, Saratoga Springs just across the lake, with the boat service. Maybe they’re trying to suggest DS is now thematically “part” of Saratoga, just because you can see it from the pool.
    (And I -like- the Marketplace! I’d always have to take afternoon flights and arrive after the parks were closing, so my first night would always be wandering around late-nite Downtown, getting a Ghiardelli’s, and hitting DisneyQuest.)

  11. Zachary Eslick

    Are they closing Downtown Disney While they do the Renovation because im going on vacation in may an only me and my girl friend are going in the parks. with downtown disney to use for place for the whole family to go and eat

    1. Ricky Brigante

      The entirety of Downtown Disney will not be closing at any given moment. They will be working in phases.

  12. jsonson

    ugh, this is so bland.

  13. Megan

    Hope this won’t affect my trip during the first week of April…

  14. Tom Johnson

    Two questions. Will some outdoor entertainment return? I miss the West End Stage and the many performances of Frankie and the West End Boys as well as others. Also, will the boat rides continue from Port Orleans? We spent several years in a row at Port Orleans for spring break. Our family enjoyed taking the boats on the river to Downtown Disney. I can see the changes as being a positive thing for Disney. Thanks.

    1. EricJ

      Pleasure Island was built back when Orlando itself didn’t have much nightlife, which became a liability to it later on (although Skipper Ben and the CM’s loved it).
      Think PI itself is long gone, but the new theming won’t get rid of the boat service, in fact, think it might put it in “small-town” context for the river-side resorts. That top piece of concept art on the YT video looks a -lot- like the Saratoga Springs architecture, with a touch of Old Key West.

      1. Bubba

        In one of the drawings, it showed an Epcot Friendship boat rather than the current ferries.

  15. Mitchell

    I don’t mind the fact that they would change stuff a little, but the idea sounds pretty lame. They gotta come up with some more pizzazz.
    For their sake, I hope they keep Pleasure Island. They need the adult appeal downtown.

  16. Cori

    Are they keeping Cirque? Couldn’t exactly tell from the models. Looking forward to seeing the new things.

  17. Bob

    Wow, that Tom person is talking as boring and uninspiring as the whole plan looks.
    The only positive thing I get out of this whole development is that they going to re-theme West Side because I hate it with a passion with its mish mash of different style buildings and ugly boxes.
    It’s also a bloody shame no mention was made what kind of entertainment value this development will have except for even more shopping and dining. If it’s as good as it’s current overpriced stores and overpriced mediocre food options it’ll continue to be a pace I only visit to pick a movie.
    Killing of the entertainment at Pleasure Island took away the adult only aspect of this place and it would be appreciated if they would put something for us in there back again. For now I’ll leave for my entertainment to the awesome Citywalk at Universal Studios.

  18. Brent

    “The Springs is a bubbling water… natural space” I think I missed the story.

  19. Brian

    Let me just say, awesome! Every little piece of Disney is magic, this will be no exception, can’t wait to visit!

  20. It is nice to see that Kathy Mangum is occupied. Perhaps Disney won’t just have her lead a team to duplicate Disneyland’s Cars Land in Walt Disney World. My fingers are crossed, that Disney Springs was the only reason she headed to Walt Disney World.

    1. jsonson

      why? whats wrong with kathy?

  21. Alec Willis

    If they get rid of the world of disney the lego store goofys candy co or the Christmas store it will be awful

    1. Lindsey

      they r expanding world of disney so you dont have to worry about that and im pretty sure goofys is safe because it is extremely popular and always busy

  22. sarah

    will D-Street close? (the vinylmation store) also do you by any chance know what stores, and restaurants will be closing? And is the world of disney going to completely close during renovation? Thanks!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Disney hasn’t specifically said which stores will remain, but most of the stores in the Marketplace and West Side areas will likely remain. World of Disney is going to expand and it’s highly unlikely it’ll close at any point, perhaps just a room or two during construction.

  23. Sammy

    I honestly feel like the fun is being sucked out of it. This honestly looks like a place for rich adults to chat, shop, and eat. I don’t see how this could represent Disney as a happy and fun atmosphere? I don’t like it.

  24. ROBERT

    PLease bring back Mannequins, Adventures Club and Comedy Warehouse!!!!

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  26. Nancy

    Not sorry to see Pleasure Island go. I wasn’t a fan of young people walking around with drinks in their hand. I do enjoy the marketplace though. I know Captain Jacks is going but I think I can still see the building in one of the photos.

    1. stephen

      with all do respect Nancy but, even though I do think disney is a family type of place and people shouldnt walk around with drinks in their hands. But on the same token from the Buisness side i think by disney taken down the nightlife in the area they took something away from the older crowds.

  27. Fi

    Will Captain jack’s Margarita bar be closing too?

    1. dottie

      I was just there in Feb. 2013 and enjoyed Downtown more than I ever had. Soo much fun to walk along on a Saturday night and stop to listen to all of the different music playing along the way. Sometimes you can go overboard and this looks that way to me. With more people coming to more places the new parking will be just as bad. I travel to Disney world twice a year and I have always found a place to park at Downtown.

  28. Joyce Hechler

    I’ve been coming to Disney World & the marketplace since 1991 every year. I don’t like changes. I wish it would never change. Now where is everybody going to sit and have a cold drink. The way the plans look it seem very conjested.

  29. Miriam Johnson

    I really miss the Adventurer’s Club. It was uniquely Disney and so much fun. I’d love to see them bring in some kind of adult interest show like New York’s SLEEP NO MORE.

  30. Sara

    So, when I first heard about this I was really not happy about it. Now I’m getting to the point where I think I can warm up to it (although I’m not really stoked about MORE shopping at disney…) BUT- If they get rid of the amazing Planet Hollywood I just flat out won’t be supporting their business. Not that losing one person will make any difference, but I’ll seriously be so unhappy! We save up and plan all year to go to planet hollywood for anniversaries or birthdays, and walk around looking at all the memorabilia for hours after dinner. It is something I look forward to forever! I can’t seem to find a straight answer on whether it’s staying :( And I haven’t read anyone else really bringing it up. But I will be insanely disappointed.

    1. sam

      hi Sara,

      i advise you to stay away from planet hollywood cause it’s so filthy and i’m talking by experience cause i worked their for sometime and quit few months later from what i saw in their kitchen, it’s fine if you go and look at the memorabilia but avoid eating their.

  31. Robin

    Please don’t close Captain Jacks!! This is a great place to eat a peaceful dinner without spending a fortune. The small cozy atmosphere is wonderful. Not many of this type in the Village. Update it if you must but please keep Captain Jacks!!!

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  41. theresa b

    The new renovation plans seem to be similar to the layout of Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC.; which is an awesome place. To have this in Disney would be even better as Downtown Disney is wonderful to begin with. Good luck & can’t wait to re-visit again!

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