Disney World announces new resort on old River Country site

October 18, 2018, 2:18 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort today officially announced the development of its newest Disney Vacation Club property, the 16th worldwide.

The as-yet-unnamed resort will go in on the shore of Bay Lake in the old River Country water park location, between Disney's Wilderness Lodge and the Fort Wilderness Campground. The Deluxe-level hotel will include more than 900 hotel rooms and proposed Disney Vacation Club villas.

New Disney World hotel
Concept art courtesy Disney

"This resort experience will be a celebration of Walt Disney’s lifelong love and respect for nature, with some fun and even surprising accommodation types that families will find irresistible," Terri Schultz, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club, said in a statement released by Disney.

"It will give our members and guests yet another opportunity to stay in close proximity to all the newest attractions and experiences in our theme parks, and with the flexibility, value and world-class service families expect from Disney."

The new resort will open in 2022.

Replies (37)

October 18, 2018 at 3:45 PM

I like the idea of a hotel celebrating Walt’s lifelong love of nature, but the picture looks like a casino. I see nothing Reflecting nature about it, it doesn’t seem to fit with either the Wilderness lodge or campgrounds.

October 18, 2018 at 3:54 PM

The amount of investment that Disney has made in it's Florida property is staggering. And 2022 would mean that the resort will likely open before Universal's next park.

October 18, 2018 at 4:19 PM

I just wish Disney would make more investment in the actual parks and not so much on hotels. I know lots of people like the "Disney experience" by staying at a company resort and getting the extra magic hours but myself I would rather stay off site and be able to afford extra magic days. I guess Disney would rather squeeze more people into the parks to wring every last dime out of them as opposed to giving guests a relaxing fun filled vacation that they would like to come back and enjoy.

October 18, 2018 at 4:44 PM

@ Vaughn Miller: For my wife and I the "Disney Experience" isn't about the Extra Magic Hours. In fact we've never used them. What we do find however is a considerable Experience Premium by staying at one of the Disney resorts that gives us a relaxing, fun-filled vacation that we do like to come back and enjoy again....

October 18, 2018 at 4:52 PM

@David Brown, I don't doubt that the Disney are relaxing my wife and I stayed in one the first time we went to Orlando we just find that by staying off site we can enjoy more time time the Orlando area for the same cost of staying at a Disney hotel. We find that we don't spend a lot of time at the resort so the extra cost just isn't justifiable. From our experience I just feel that upgrading the rides and making the actual parks more inviting by having more attractions that would thin the lines would be a better usage of the money.

October 18, 2018 at 4:56 PM

V. Miller: "I just feel that upgrading the rides and making the actual parks more inviting by having more attractions that would thin the lines would be a better usage of the money."

I Respond: Like building a new themed land and night show at DAK, two new themed lands with multiple attractions as well as a dark ride at DHS, two e-ticket attractions and a new night show at EPCOT, a new e-ticket themed coaster at Magic Kingdom and a new attraction and new show at DSTP? That sort of "usage of money?"

October 18, 2018 at 5:21 PM

Wow, what innovative design. I can't wait to read their official press release, "The imagineers studied actual condominiums built in Irvine CA during the early 2000's, and their amazing attention to detail will make you feel just like you're staying in a modern condo."

October 18, 2018 at 6:43 PM

Still waiting for a new Disneyland Hotel Resort announcement. Some day. Waiting waiting waiting.

October 18, 2018 at 7:26 PM

Vaughn Miller, you are so right. Guest comfort has become a serious concern and it really is hard to enjoy the parks now because they are so full of people. Disney should make a fifth theme park.

October 18, 2018 at 7:28 PM

Good to see Disney trying to keep up with Universal Orlando’s aggressive expansion projects of late. A new WDW park would be a great way to counter UOR’s new park - may the best new park win!

October 18, 2018 at 7:39 PM

TH Creative: "I Respond: Like building a new themed land and night show at DAK, two new themed lands with multiple attractions as well as a dark ride at DHS, two e-ticket attractions and a new night show at EPCOT, a new e-ticket themed coaster at Magic Kingdom and a new attraction and new show at DSTP? That sort of "usage of money?""

I Respond: Sure a few nice replacements and new rides but even more closings. The future is maybe looking bright but at the moment this is missing and saves Disney a ton of money while guests are expected to pay more than a year earlier.

AK closing of Rafiki's Planet Watch and Wildlife Express and a kiddy zoo.
DHS closing the Animation Academy, the backlot tramtour, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show and streets of America (killing the The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights), The Great Movie Ride, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow show, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, The Star Wars stage show and part of the Citizens of Hollywood Streetmosphere team.
Epcot mostly empty Innoventions, Wonders of Life and closing Ellen's Energy Adventure, Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable.

October 18, 2018 at 7:40 PM

&Anton: Nope. Not a chance until Anaheim elects better politicians that are not hostile towards Disney. Unless they start developing hotels over the city line!

October 18, 2018 at 9:15 PM

TH is usually anoying , but I have to agree with him ,Disney are adding new rides and experiences everywhere . It took them a while but we have to give them credit now, it’s a very exciting time

October 18, 2018 at 9:19 PM

Glad to hear that they are finally doing something with the River Country property. Maybe they could sneak in an homage to Disney's first water park.

October 18, 2018 at 9:42 PM


Universal opens Kong on SCREEN, Jimmy Fallon on SCREEN and a Fast & The Furious on SCREEN in successive years. ALL but one are replacements!

October 18, 2018 at 10:54 PM

My hope is this hotel can finally compete with actual deluxe resorts offered by Universal up the street. They know hotels!!! This looks nice though...much better than that pretender Grand Floridian.

October 19, 2018 at 6:46 AM

Orlando Timeline – This is INSANE!

2018 – Disney – DSTP – The Void Wreck It Ralph (In Addition – Not a Replacement)
2019 – Universal – IOA – Potter Coaster (Replacement)
2019 – Universal – USF – Terminator Replacement (Replacement)
2019 – Disney – DSTP – NBA Experience (Replacement)
2019 – Disney – DSTP – Pour House (Replacement)
2019 – Disney – DHS – Galaxy’s Edge (Replacement)
2019 – Disney – Coronado Resort
2019 – Disney – Riviera Resort
2019 – Disney – DSTP – Cirque du Soleil (New Show)
2019 - Universal - Surfside/Dockside Resort (Replacement)
2020 – Orlando International Airport – Terminal C
2020 – Disney – EPCOT – Ratatouille
2020 – Disney – EPCOT – Guardians of the Galaxy (Replacement)
2020 – Universal – IOA – Jurassic Park Attraction
2021 – Disney – Magic Kingdom – TRON Coaster
2021 – Disney – Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary
2021 – Disney – Star Wars Resort
2022 – Disney – River Country Resort
2023 – Universal – Fourth Gate (Estimated)

Post 2023 – Universal continues expansion of the Martin Marietta property (hotels, attractions, etc.) Rumors indicate Disney has plans for another three hotels at Walt Disney World.

October 19, 2018 at 6:45 AM

Went to Magic Kingdom last year and we have visited every time that we have been to Orlando but due to the staggering number of people there I dont think we will be going again for a very long time. It is good to see Disney finally investing again in their parks but the queues are so long that for me, Universal will always be more of an attractive option. The single rider queues are fantastic at Universal, why dont Disney offer this more?

October 19, 2018 at 7:54 AM

@TH Creative

You forgot Toy Story land
You forgot the Monstropolis rumor replacing Hollywood Studios Animation Courtyard
You forgot the Indiana Jones expansion rumors for either Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom
You forgot the Zootopia rumors for Animal Kingdom

October 19, 2018 at 8:03 AM

I can't believe Disney can validate installing even more DVC units, but I guess the Drones cannot stop handing over their life savings for a yearly week's vacation (and 25-year commitment to pay the annual maintenance fee that is more than what it costs to spend a week at an off-site hotel). It's hard to tell whether this new resort will slot into the moderate or deluxe category (its location would suggest more toward the former without any direct access to a theme park), but inevitably it will be overpriced yet booked to 90% occupancy most times of the year thanks to the morons that will pay whatever Disney charges.

You do have to wonder at what point Disney reaches saturation with their WDW resorts and when people come to their senses about paying a 20-30% premium for very little in return over off-site hotels (especially now that they're charging resort guests for parking). You can't blame Disney for continuing to expand, but eventually the gravy train will come to a halt.

October 19, 2018 at 8:16 AM

Do guests go to Disney for the Hotel Vacation, or do they go for the Parks Vacation? I go for the parks, and I really do enjoy the Disney Hotels more than the off-site hotels. They are increasing the number of rooms available faster than the capacity of the parks.

More Parks would help a lot more than more rooms. I normally stay in the value resorts. I have stayed in a variety of other resorts, but I spend almost all my time in the parks. Why pay $300 and more for a room, when I can sleep for under $200 per night?

I agree that another DVC seems over the limit. But I'll bet they make money.

Whatever happened to the Disney Institute?

October 19, 2018 at 8:24 AM

My friend is a DVC member, and has been for over 25 years. I think she has around 300pts to use annually and the only cost to her now are the taxes, which are around $2K for the year, so not a bad investment. For her any new DVC resort on Disney property is great news, as she, the kids and grandkids spend most of their vacation time at WDW even though they all live within a 15 mile radius of Disney ... !! Although for me, I still think OKW is by far the best resort to stay at. Maybe this new one will become my new favorite ??

October 19, 2018 at 8:29 AM

Being that the resort will feature DVC villas, it without a question will be in the deluxe resort category.

Also being the resort is on Bay Lake we can safely assume it will have direct park access via boat ride to Magic Kingdom just like the Wilderness Lodge.

DVC members still get free parking for all resort stays whether it is on a point stay or cash stay.

You can’t blame Disney for building DVC resorts. They put out the money for construction and recoup everything plus obviously putting money in their pockets once they sell out of the points with most resorts taking on average 2 years to sell out.

In order to build another gate you must build enough resorts first to handle the increased attendance. Hence look at what Universal is doing. I believe Disney will eventually build another park but as to when that might be is anyone’s guess.

October 19, 2018 at 8:58 AM

"My friend is a DVC member, and has been for over 25 years. I think she has around 300pts to use annually and the only cost to her now are the taxes, which are around $2K for the year, so not a bad investment."

But that's my point. They're still paying $2k every single year for what amounts to a week's lodging for a suite at one of the nicer resorts, or 2-3 weeks for a studio at one of the lesser resorts. You can stay at a brand-name off-site hotel for over 2 weeks for $2k and get a hot breakfast every morning (or stay at the Royal Pacific for over a week and get UE). Plus, you're not bound to visiting a DVC resort every year or 2 to avoid losing the points you spent the equivalent of a a down payment on a house for, so you can actually plan vacations to other parts of the country/world every few years. I know DVC works for a lot of people, but I'm constantly amazed by the continuous expansion of the program and the endless supply of mindless Drones that feed into the system. I love visiting WDW more than some of the DVC owners I know, yet they're tens of thousands of dollars in the hole for their ownership (which is not actually ownership like a traditional timeshare since you only "own" the points and not a stake in the property) and feeling trapped into taking yearly trips to WDW (and constantly spending money in the parks and resorts) to make their investment worthwhile.

We considered the investment about 10 years ago, and I calculated that it would take nearly 3 lifetimes of visits (50-75 years) before we would reach a break even point through DVC when compared to our traditional every-other year trips to WDW (that even factored in staying at an on-site value resort, not just off-site cheap hotels). I would love to see some market research of this space to see what percentage of guests really enjoy and get value out of their DVC ownership, and what percentage wish they hadn't bought in or never personally use their points (either sell them or let them expire).

I've got to hand it to Disney to have people banging down their door to buy into DVC, but even as an avid fan and frequent visitor, I don't understand how ownership holds any value or savings over traditional hotels.

October 19, 2018 at 9:50 AM

Russell .... With OKW at $600/night for the larger rooms, it doesn't take long to justify (in their minds) the $2K/year taxes. It is, after all, just a glorified property tax, but as with most taxes they do go up pretty much every year. They been to Hilton Head, and I've been to Vero Beach, so the opportunity is there to move out of WDW if you want. The points can be used on a cruise as well. I'm not sure how much Disney charges for a weeks DVC these days, but I'm sure it's a lot more than what it was 25 years ago.

I can see where a DVC membership for people who live outside of the state could turn into the proverbial millstone around their necks, but with living in Orlando it gives them the opportunity to spend time at Disney and stay at one of the resorts. Although it's surprisingly difficult to get rooms at some of the resorts on a spur of the moment decision.

October 19, 2018 at 10:57 AM

"With OKW at $600/night for the larger rooms, it doesn't take long to justify (in their minds) the $2K/year taxes."

That certainly makes sense if that's how you travel. However, we would prefer to spend $600/week for a room, or maybe $1k/week if we needed more space/amenities. We stayed at AKL once 13 years ago, and the 2 nights for our savanna-side room were twice the cost of our 4 nights at Coronado Springs during the same trip. The room was very nice and the resort was gorgeous with animals walking by our sliding glass door as we woke up. However, we spent a total of maybe 14 hours in the room and almost all of those were with our eyes closed. We go to WDW for the theme parks, not to lounge around in a fancy hotel room, but to each their own. My mind just can't wrap around the idea of paying hundreds of dollars a night for a hotel room that doesn't even include breakfast, and then another $100/day for a few hours in a theme park, but that's how a lot of people visit WDW (spend 4-6 hours in the parks and the rest of the time in the resort). I guess when you go to WDW every year (or sometimes multiple times per year), you don't need to spend 10-12 hours per day in the parks (we have been going typically every other year for nearly 2 decades and still feel the need to go from rope drop until they kick us out to validate the constantly increasing admission prices), but my brain is wired to maximize every penny I spend on a vacation.

October 19, 2018 at 11:16 AM

@OT: "...but even more closings."

Well, yes. That's how these kinds of things work. If the closings make a park like DHS not worth your time and money, then don't go until the attraction lineup meets your standards and expectations.

Vote with your dollars.

I haven't been to WDW since just after Camp Minnie Mickey closed, and UO since just after Transformers opened. It's been a while. And with all the construction and investment that's ongoing, I am unlikely to return until at least after Star Wars opens.

It's not a big deal. I love the Orlando parks!!!! But my life isn't a train wreck if I can't get a yearly fix.

So you're right. There are a lot of things closed right now, but if you refer to THC's list of what's going on in Orlando right now, realize that this is not dissimilar to a new office building or highway. Demolition and construction are no fun, but they're necessary for a better tomorrow.

October 19, 2018 at 12:56 PM

Things will be priced at what the laws of elasticity of demand says people will pay for them.

Personally i'm like you, I like my budget hotels with breakfast included. I also own a small house that i've made very practical changes to: solar panels, low flow faucets and shower heads, LED bulbs, and I drive a Chevy Sonic which gets 40mpg with my driving habits. I'm all about low fixed costs so I can have more money to invest and spend on things I enjoy. There are bigger houses and expensive cars all over my neighborhood owned by people who don't make more money than me. It's very much keeping up with the jonses mentality.

Honestly I don't care as long as they don't come asking for taxpayer handouts if they get wiped out lol. It's not my birth right to vacation anywhere I want to go, if Disney was too expensive for me I wouldn't go (and I go to parks a LOT less now than I used to because of the price even though I live in Orlando, I haven't had an AP to any of the parks in over 5 years). It's not worth it to me anymore because of the heat anyway...i'm always happy to go November-March, the rest of the year I would rather go to the parks further north.

October 19, 2018 at 11:39 AM

I'll reserve further judgement until we see more images of what it will look like from the inside and other bits. Plus, you know, having a name to it helps.

October 19, 2018 at 12:34 PM

I'm with you Russell on the $600/week instead of the $600/night, but the rooms are huge, and the family gathering is usually 6 adults with 4 of the grand kids, so it suits them for their needs. When I go over, they are rarely at the parks for that week, more fun is had in the pools and lounging around in the room. For sure though a 5 night stay at the new resort will equal a 6 or 7 night stay anywhere else, as the number of points required for a room will be a lot higher for the first few years.

But at the end of the day it's just going to be another DVC resort that will be welcoming home a whole new batch of Disney club members.

@the_man ..... I think 'keeping up with the Jonses' is the perfect way to describe what being a DVC owner is all about. They don't want a $600/week room if they can get a $600/night room at one of the WDW resorts. Crazy as that sounds, but that's the way a lot of them roll.

They even have their own exclusive member lounge at EPCOT.
It is nice though .... :)

October 19, 2018 at 3:18 PM

Happy to provide financing for this new one too! #16

October 19, 2018 at 6:42 PM

if Disney really wanted to bring people closer to nature.... Expand the Campground! Walking around in the old days there were armadillo's, Squirrels, Peacocks, even deer. The Campgrounds is often booked to the point you can't get a week's stay anymore and if discounts are a sign of under occupancy, they haven't had any pass holder discounts in a long time. I go to Disney for the Parks, and Restaurants, but not going as much anymore, just getting too expensive for this AP holder. and a long time ago I figured that DVC just didn't make sense for our way of vacationing. When we have the time and the cash, we go, when we don't... We say NO.

October 20, 2018 at 8:14 PM


Off-site hotels are a great idea if...

You like to drive into the parks every day.
Your family continually bumping into each other in your hotel room is not an issue.
Your family sharing a bathroom.
If you want to buy every meal vs a kitchen.
If you want to drive out to swim for the afternoon and then drive back to the parks.
If you don’t understand how to work the points system.

You sound just like I did before experiencing an OKW villa! Makes me chuckle!

October 21, 2018 at 10:36 AM

They will stop making DVC resorts when people stop buying them.

My family have been in DVC since 1992 and my parents have never regretted the decision. We mostly stay at Old Key West which I know is not for everybody, but they rooms are huge and well priced for what you get. Add the discount for AP and Tables in Wonderland and we have saved thousands over the past 20+ years.

My thought is that they are replacing a run down and swamp infested former park and creating SOMETHING. It was an eyesore and Disney finally got around to fixing it. I know their PR surrounding this was a little weird, but it sounds like another "Fort Wilderness" family of resort

October 22, 2018 at 12:20 PM

So... The fact that this looks like any generic condo/apartment complex built in any city in the last 10 years really doesn't bother anyone else?

October 23, 2018 at 9:47 AM

@ - If you need multiple bedrooms/bathrooms, or just more space than a typical hotel room, AirBNB is a lot cheaper than DVC. Also, there are a number of all-suite hotels and other off-site resorts that have adjoining rooms that are far cheaper than OKW.

I know DVC works for a lot of people, but I've looked very closely at the way the system works and how much it costs, and it's very easy to visit WDW for less, even if you need lots of extra space. The Drones can keep propping the system up, but eventually it will collapse. The fact that you can purchase DVC points online at 50-60% off their true value is a good indicator that there are lots of people out there that committed to DVC that don't realize it's not worth it.

October 24, 2018 at 12:13 AM

Russell, you keep trying to belittle those that invest in DVC when they actually save money vs. paying rack rate for the same accommodations. If you prefer lower-end accommodations, buying into a timeshare of deluxe resorts isn’t a great idea. And that’s OK, no one should fault you for that. But if others wish to, let them do it. Finances are subjective and heavily based on income and lifestyle. If your income doesn’t support a luxury like a timeshare, skip it. But because someone else may have more disposable income to spend on DVC shouldn’t make them “mindless drones”. Who knows, maybe they made great decisions early in life that put them in a financially sound situation to be able to join the DVC. While it isn’t a scientific study, just researching people’s DVC decisions online will show you that those that are members have significant gratification of being members which may hold value alone, heck the Green Bay Packers football team sold stock for $250/share when there is zero benefit fo the shareholder outside of pride and piece of paper). Finding disgruntled members has, at least for me, been very difficult through my research. The vast majority of those selling their deeds often explain their financial situations changed (often divorce and major medical expenses are discussed).

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