A recent cast member forum at Walt Disney World revealed that there are future plans for at least one more large hotel at Walt Disney World is the Orlando resort’s future. The most persistent rumor is that it will be a new Monorail hotel, but this time not on the Magic Kingdom resort loop, but rather on the EPCOT Loop.
Disney has previously announced that EPCOT would undertake a complete re-envisioning of both the Main Entrance and also much of Future World. According to the scuttlebutt, this new vision would include a large hotel right at the main entrance. This location would allow the hotel to use the existing Monorail station as a connection for guests of the hotel to the Magic Kingdom. Disney recently announced a similar project at Disneyland where the new hotel will ‘adopt’ the existing Downtown Disney monorail station.
It’s believed that this hotel will be a luxury hotel, something Disney has refrained from building on its own so far, although it recently allowed Four Seasons to open on its Golden Oak property. Walt Disney World has been trying to attract more families of affluence and offering a resort that has amenities guests with that level of income expect is important to the future of the resort.
My biggest hope with the EPCOT hotel is that it doesn’t disrupt what is now one of the best weenies in Disney theme park design.
As a reminder, a ‘weenie’ is a Walt Disney adopted term where an item or building is positioned to be a visual enticement for guests to move through a space. Guests enter Main Street USA and see the castle at the end of it and are drawn down the street where they see more options to explore. For another example at Disneyland the Mark Twain served as both a visual and aural weenie to bring gets into Frontierland from the central hub.
At EPCOT, the giant Spaceship Earth ball is the parking lot’s weenie. You see it even before you park your car and feel pulled into the park, past the main entrance gates. Once you pass the globe you’re in a different world.
I’m also a bit worried that a tall hotel tower will diminish the scale of the Spaceship Earth ball. Sure it’s 180ft tall, but with a 15 story tower nearby, it won’t seem as impressive.
That’s all speculation, as no plans have been revealed. I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised.
The concept of park adjacent hotels is nothing new for Disney. Disneyland Paris famously has a hotel that sits right at the park entrance. Both DisneySeas and Disney California Adventure have adjacent hotels that have their own separate entrances into the park. The WestCOT concept for Disneyland’s second gate would have built multiple hotels into the park itself. All encounter certain issues with park maintenance going on right under guest hotel rooms. So a hotel that’s close, but not in the park, is probably preferred.
Disney has also announced a special Star Wars themed boutique hotel that will open adjacent to the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The whole hotel will be a giant role playing experience for guests and include private adventures in the land when regular guests are not allowed.
I would love for this hotel to feature a great retro-future design. Similar to the hotel that was recently announced for Downtown Disney. I’d also bee enthused if the new hotel had it’s own retail, dining, and entertainment district attached. The party at EPCOT shouldn’t have to stop at 9:30 when the last echo of Illuminations expires, there should be a place for guests who want to continue the experience could hang out and enjoy before going back to their parks.
Do you think Walt Disney World is adding too many hotel rooms or does the idea of a new resort right at the front of EPCOT excite you?