The sands of time that buried the unfinished ‘Legendary Years’ half of the Pop Century value resort at Walt Disney World have begun to shift. Construction on the 1900-1940 themed buildings was stopped after 9-11 drove tourism traffic down. By the time the industry recovered, Disney’s priorities had changed to focus more on building only DVC resorts and outsourcing everything else.
Over the last few years the Legendary Years part of Pop Century has been used mainly as a training ground for Disney’s fleet of bus drivers. It’s also gained some fame as Disney’s Ghost Hotel (separate from the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, of course). The ‘ghost hotel’ video I’ve included below was filmed in 2007 and gives you a great look at exactly how much of the Legendary Years was built when they stopped work on it. Looks like most of the check in building was done and maybe 2 of what would be 10 buildings, then they just dropped their hammers and walked away lending it a very ghost hotel feel.
Now I’m hearing that Walt Disney World has decided to finish building some or all of the Legendary Years (although the name may change) with the goal of rapidly adding some more value rooms to the Disney’s stable. Some of the rooms will be what are currently called “Family Suites” where a whole family can stay together with rooms themed specially for adults and kids. Some Family Suites in use at the All Star Resorts and are quite popular. And, of course, there’s a whole hotel of them just across I-4 from Disney and the Nickelodeon Family Suites Hotel.
So why the sudden change of heart?
Here’s the only reason I think they may be doing this. If the rumor is true that they can’t get any company to building a value resort at the westerly located Flamingo Crossings (whether its the location or economy), and their internal numbers say they need a certain number of value rooms to maximize on property booking (which equals on property spending). Finishing Pop Century would be the quickest way to solve that problem. The fact that many families are switching from deluxe to moderate and moderate to value resorts is probably another good indication that more value rooms are needed.
I will point out that if Disney really wanted more value priced rooms they could just convert some of the older moderate resorts into value priced resorts. But then it would probably be difficult to charge moderate prices for that hotel again in the future.
So, the dirt pushing and other exploration currently going on at the Legendary Years site could possibly just be preparation for something else, but most bets are on them finally finishing Pop Century. Seems like a good idea to me.