Disney World has been experimenting with lightly themed rooms at its resorts for the last few years. You may have stayed in a Pirates or Little Mermaid themed room at the Caribbean Beach Resort. They’re even building a whole new resort (Art of Animation) with themed rooms. Today the Orlando Sentinel reports that Disney will be taking this a step further by adding Princess suites to the Riverside section of the Port Orleans resort.
It’s a concept Disney has dubbed “storybook” hotel rooms — rooms that are more lavishly themed than conventional hotel rooms and are devoted to key company franchises. The company previously converted a wing of rooms in Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort to a pirates theme, and those have proven so popular that the resort has been able to charge a $30-a-night premium for them.
In addition, Disney is banking on the princess makeover to ensure that travelers remain willing to pay a premium to stay at Port Orleans, which, like Caribbean Beach, is priced as a “moderate” resort, Disney’s middle tier. Those rooms will be among the most vulnerable to losing business to the new Art of Animation Resort, a lower-priced, “value” hotel. Art of Animation, which will have 1,120 family suites and 864 regular rooms, will open in phases beginning in May 2012.
While I’m not sure how will the health themed rooms will work at a hotel that’s not already known for its Spa services, although I think the Contemporary could make that a new emphasis, I do think this is a move in the right direction for Disney. For a long time the “moderate” resorts were mostly separated from the “value” by a slightly larger room size. With Pop Century’s more central location, there was little reason to upgrade for a room where you only planned to crash at the end of the day.
Okay, Disney fans. Will these upgrades make you think twice about booking a moderate room instead of a value in the future?