Walt Disney World announced plans on Thursday to revitalize Downtown Disney and recreate the turn-of-the-century lakeside towns that once connected Florida, calling the new destination Disney Springs, which will involve a multi-year transformation.
Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, stated about Disney Springs that: “Our fundamental goal is to create a welcoming, comfortable space where families can enjoy time together and instantaneously feel right at home. We want to give them opportunities to relax, to be entertained, to wander in and out of unique and distinctive shops or enjoy a world-class dining experience. And because we are Disney, we’ve anchored the entire experience around a story that gives us the ability to deliver on the legendary place-making and creativity for which we are known.”
The area, which had its last expansion in 1997, will include four new neighborhoods–Town Center (a mix of shops, a promenade and dining options), The Landing (a commercial district with dining and waterfront views), Marketplace (which will be home to an expanded World of Disney) and West Side (home to entertainment and overlook areas–and will eventually encompass 150 shops, restaurants and entertainment areas. Like Downtown Disney now, Disney Springs will be located outside of the parks and requires no admission.
The vibe and look of the makeover were inspired by small Florida towns at the turn of the past century and the company’s own Sunshine State heritage, Staggs said. Walt Disney’s parents met and married in the now-vanished Central Florida town of Kismet in 1888, he said.
“In our story, Disney Springs grew up around a series of natural springs here in Central Florida. It became a thriving community,” Staggs said, adding that he wants it to be a place where guests “feel instantly at home.”
In addition to a new gateway with a signature water tower and grand entry, the destination will feature:
· 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.
With construction beginning next month, Disney Springs will open in stages and be completed by 2016. The new destination will also create 4,000 new jobs.
Below, Imagineer Kathy Magnum and Tom Staggs, Disney Parks & Resorts Chair, walk us through the first of its kind model for Disney Springs. It uses Digital Projection to give life to the model, even moving it from day to night. Should be a big help attracting tenants to the development formerly known as Downtown Disney.