Walt Disney World Resort planning parking garages, new retail for Downtown Disney
Get ready for lots of new construction around the Downtown Disney district in Florida. Disney's just filed a slew of permit applications for infrastructure work in and around the Downtown Disney area. The work should add new retail space to the district, while addressing the parking traffic problems that have plagued the area in recent years.
A source tipped me to the project over the weekend, and yesterday, Park Rumors dropped a bunch of documents related to the project. If you're into civil engineering, you can find Disney's permit applications on the South Florida Water Management District's website. (Insider's tip: Although Disney famously lobbied the Florida Legislature to create the Reedy Creek Improvement District to allow Disney to oversee its own zoning and planning -- and thus, to avoid public filings on new projects -- Disney still has to file permits with the water district for any new construction that affects storm- or ground-water use. Which is just about every significant project in water-soaked Florida. So the water district's a great place to look for advance news about new construction at the Walt Disney World Resort.)
Disney's pitched new plans for Downtown Disney before, of course. The Pleasure Island nightclubs closed years ago, but now the much-publicized Hyperion Wharf replacement's gone, too. Whether Disney manages to sign up new partners for a retail expansion or not, this new project's gone to the permitting stage because, at the very least, Disney needs to do something about traffic and parking at Downtown Disney.
Which any recent Disney World visitor can tell you, is a mess. The new plans call for two multi-story parking garages, with one replacing the current surface lots south of the movie theaters and the other going in south of the World of Disney building. The surface lot south of Planet Hollywood would become a new bus station and the surface lots south of the old Pleasure Island would become a new retail area.
The new garages should add thousands of parking spaces to the area, even with the loss of several current surface lots. To address the persistent traffic jams on Buena Vista Drive, Disney's planning to build several overpasses, allowing traffic to flow into the new parking garages without having to hold so many cars at lights on BVD. The concept should be familiar to any recent visitors to Disneyland, where Disney in the late 1990s built an overpass above an existing street to ease access into a new parking structure.
And to address pedestrian congestion inside Downtown Disney, the plans include a footbridge spanning the bay between Fulton's and Cap'n Jack's.
So what new retail can we expect with this project? Concept art and notes suggest a World of Coca-Cola and an American Girl Place, as well as a makeover of Planet Hollywood into something called The Observatory. Park Rumors reported that the entire district would be renamed Disney Springs, while the new retail area would be called Town Center, the old Pleasure Island would be called The Landing, and the West Side and Village Marketplace would retain their names. No word yet on construction start or completion dates.
I have never noticed a parking problem at Downtown Disney. Of course if everybody wants to park right next to the World of Disney store there is only so much space there, but the West side parking lot is HUGE and rarely have I seen it 1/3 full.
No word on the entertainment options. Will there be a dance hall? Or a gaming arcade (not counting Disney Quest). At least they are improving the parking.
I would be super sad to see Planet Hollywoood go. I love that place
Disney Springs, huh? Nope, don't see me ever getting used to that name....I still have a problem with "Downtown Disney" sometimes. I'm so old school that I still call the whole area -- shopping, hotels, all of it -- the Disney Village and always will :-).
Sure, why not?
I'm all for these major changes. For three reasons. The first being that locals often avoid the place like the plague because traffic and parking really do suck. It's reached the point where Disney is losing out on a lot of potential profits because there is not enough room in the parking lots.
I think all of this work was inevidible. However, the one part of the rumor that is not reported here is the possibility that Disney will begin to charge for parking at Downtown Disney in the new garages. The rumors are sketchy, but it's likely that guests who park and do not get some sort of validation from a merchant would pay an hourly parking fee upon exiting.
I think they need to expand Earl Of Sandwich
I think there will definitely be a parking charge now. I'm kinda bummed about it since DD is close to our timeshare resort and was a nice place to go to in the afternoon before the parking got out of hand.
Disney and AMC must be kicking themselves for not putting in a full size Imax (like the ones at City Walk Hollywood not Orlando)in the old Virgin Megastore building especially since Disney has most of it's movies released in Imax.
Downtown Disney is not missing out on IMAX.
I'm local and hate the traffic at DD. It's a complete pain in the rear even though I know which lanes to get into at which time. If they do start charging for parking, hopefully that will get rid of some of the hassle of the off property people who park there and take buses over to the parks.
Imax doesn't actually "build" theaters. They sell their technology to theaters, usually museums or chains like AMC. As for the sound, Imax actually has the advantage since they only have 5 speakers (which are like 10 thousand watts)and laser aligned to give the action a more precise and immersed experience. This is the same between Imax digital or film.
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