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Walt Disney World Finds a Home on International Drive

May 20, 2022, 2:34 PM · As if it didn't have enough of a presence already in Orlando, Walt Disney World is staking a new claim in one of the region's most popular tourist spots.

On May 31, the Walt Disney World Resort will open a new retail store under the Hollywood Plaza parking garage on International Drive, just south of Sand Lake Road. The new store will combine Disney merchandise and resort ticket sales with what Disney is calling "the first-ever interactive Disney Vacation Club Virtual Discovery Station."

The DVC sales area will include virtual tours, photo galleries, and videos of Disney Vacation Club properties worldwide, including those at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Aulani in Hawaii.

This won't be some under-the-radar location, either. Disney will be heralding the new store with a massive wrap-around, digital display atop the garage, initially celebrating the resort's ongoing 50th anniversary event.

Disney World on I-Drive
Concept art courtesy Walt Disney World

The digital banner easily will be visible from the adjacent Interstate 4, perhaps not coincidentally one exit before the off-ramp for the Universal Orlando Resort. The store's placement on I-Drive also puts it smack in between Universal Orlando's main campus and the under-construction Epic Universe park near the Orange County Convention Center.

Walt Disney World - like Universal Orlando and SeaWorld and the Kennedy Space Center - has maintained retail stores at the Orlando International Airport for years, so this is hardly the first time that Disney had expanded to promote itself with a remote, customer-facing, staffed presence in the Orlando area.

But this one's gonna be hard to overlook.

Replies (7)

May 20, 2022 at 3:41 PM

A quick question for Universal Orlando: "Oh who are the people in your neighborhood?"

(Chuckle)

May 20, 2022 at 10:22 PM

As someone who has lived in Central FL for over 20 years, it’s always surprised me how little Disney advertised Walt Disney World on I-4 until after the Universal/International Drive exits.

On the other had Universal had a prominent billboard ad that pretty much faced eye level before hitting downtown for years, as well as a decent look at Islands of Adventure before they built Volcano Bay - although now Volcano Bay’s Volcano is impossible to miss.

It certainly piques interest as you drive by…

I always thought Disney should invest more in advertising Walt Disney World all along I-4, this is a step in a promising direction.

May 21, 2022 at 1:54 AM

I love it when the parks troll each other. Every year I go to Busch Gardens for Howl-O-Scream and the billboards you see when exiting the parking lot are for HHN.

May 21, 2022 at 7:15 PM

It always was impressive back in '90s driving from airport to Orlando and seeing those huge signs for parks but yes, notable how you didn't really see much for WDW until closer to the parks while Universal and Sea World had scores.

May 22, 2022 at 8:42 AM

Money better spent in their aging theme parks than on the uglification on I-drive. They could have greenlit the Poppins ride in Epcot. But that is Di$ney, lets hope it helps their stock prices...

May 23, 2022 at 1:22 PM

I wonder how much they'll be charging guests to park in the garage, and whether or not they will need to have reservations for their visit. I wouldn't be surprised if guests can pay an extra $15 to bypass the checkout lines and/or the hard-sell portion of the DVC presentation.

May 27, 2022 at 11:07 AM

I think we’re missing the point here. Disney didn’t advertise WDW on I-Drive because it didn’t really need to - they knew that people coming to Orlando were coming to visit the World. My question is, does Disney opening this shop (and let’s be honest, that’s all this is, a shop) indicate that Universal has upped their game to the point where Disney feels it needs to advertise locally, or that Disney’s let their game slip and nickel-and dined park guests to the point that they have to encourage guests to visit, or both?

But as has already been mentioned, it’s cheaper than improving the guest experience and upping the “wow” factor to the point where it’s a given that guests are going to spend all or most of their time at WDW.

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