Alas, ‘Ghost Town’ isn’t the theme, but rather the nickname for the partially completed second half of the Pop Century Resort. As has been rumored for months, including this story I wrote in January (includes video of abandoned construction), plans are to turn this into another value hotel with a new style of room – the family suite. The family suite became a popular trend after Nickelodeon Suites proved the business model.
The ‘Disney’s Art of Animation’ hotel will have 2000 rooms, more than half of which are suites, which means it’s capacity will match that of Pop Century. As you can guess, huge icons that represent Disney animation will be featured at the hotel and guests will be made to feel like they’re in the movies.
Plans, including mockups of the family suites, for this new resort have been on the boards for a while. Disney has just been awaiting enough signs that the economy was truly on the rebound before giving it the greenlight. The hotel will open in phases beginning in 2012, which must mean they’re planning to use the partially completed sections.
Since 2005 when work stopped on the ‘Legendary Years’ section of Pop Century, the area has been used as training for stunt drivers, bus drivers, and cast member parking for WWOS events. Adding all these family rooms right across the street from ESPN WWOS also makes a great opportunity to sell that property as part of a Compete and Play vacation for the whole family.
This will be Disney World’s return to Value hotels and the first non-Disney Vacation Club hotel they’ve built in a long time (since 9/11 changed the travel market basically). It think it’s clear that Disney had begun to price themselves out of the family market, putting too many of its eggs in the retiring baby boomer trend and outside developers. The Art of Animation hotel will help start bring that back into balance.
(via the Orlando Sentinel)