None of the new hotels Walt Disney World currently has under construction fit neatly into the Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resort categories. Instead, Disney is moving away from classifying an entire resort under one level rather offering various levels of rooms at each resort. The eventual goal is to get rid of value resorts all together by slowly remodeling them until they can offer nicer amenities, different room options, and unique attractions and therefore allow Disney to charge more for staying there.
The only resort that will probably stay at a ‘value’ price point will be the All-Stars, which Disney has turned into essentially a dorm room for ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, requiring most competitions to book a certain number of rooms there. They also developed Flamingo Crossings to the west of Disney World to provide more rooms at a price point set for ESPN WWOS competitors.
As we know Disney is building a few new hotels right now. Both the Coronado Springs tower building and Riviera Resort (near Caribbean Beach Resort) are well on their way and rumors have turned to which resort will be built next. The only hotel that has been announced is the Star Wars-themed hotel that will be added to Disney’s Hollywood Studios adjacent to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Construction on the 400 room phase one is expected to begin shortly.
As for future hotels, early money is on a resort at EPCOT’s main entrance. As Disney Imagineers look to rework EPCOT’s entrance and Communicore area, word is they might be considering something on a grand scale that would frame Spaceship Earth, which is the park’s big icon. The resort might even be located essentially above where the main entrance sits now. We’ve mocked up something that might look familiar. To be clear, no one has said Disney will build anything like the Grande Arche from La Defense in Paris, but the idea of framing Spaceship Earth beyond entrance is the same.
The other option is to sit off to the site between the bus loop and the backstage area behind the Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion. Ultimately, any new resort at EPCOT’s entrance will have access to a monorail beam making it the first monorail resort to be added to Disney World since the Grand Floridian opened.
With the gondola network and monorail soon both part of EPCOT’s transportation options, the park will become something of a hub for Walt Disney World, which is very much like Walt Disney’s original vision for EPCOT Center. There’s talk that when Disney’s Imagineers finish their upgrade to the core of Future World and the main entrance, there will be many homages to Walt’s original vision, perhaps even a recreation of the original model for EPCOT Center. We’d love to see that.
Rumors are also building of a potential new resort on the Magic Kingdom monorail loop. There is definitely a hotel ‘pad’ between the Contemporary and the Ticket and Transportation Center. The hotel would sit on Seven Seas Lagoon side of the beam and provide a spectacular view of the fireworks. A hotel here would also help solve one of the problems facing transportation to the Magic Kingdom as Disney looks to replace its aging monorail train fleet — how to get from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom if the monorails are down and boat capacity is reduced.
Right now the only other option is to add street buses (which is a quick ride, but low capacity) there is no public access for pedestrians between the TTC and Magic Kingdom. This new hotel would contain a boardwalk with its own shops and restaurants that would connect the TTC to the Magic Kingdom via a pedestrian walkway, with a swinging bridge to allow big boats into Bay Lake, providing an alternate route back to one’s car at the end of a long day at the Magic Kingdom and maybe a dessert or extra souvenir along the way.
Another option is to replace the convention hall space at the Contemporary resort. I’ve heard that Disney number-crunchers think this space is under utilized and would rather direct groups to spaces at the Grand Floridian, The Yacht & Beach Club or Coronado Springs (which is getting a new tower after all). This would let Disney save money by consolidating back of house support with existing facilities at the Contemporary.
One scenario that was considered a few years ago is to add a boutique luxury bungalow resort to the Grand Floridian (it would sit essentially behind Adventureland). This idea was being considered a few years ago before Disney gave the Four Seasons permission to build on property. It could be revived today. These small buildings would house 2 to 4 luxury suites per unit each with their own private pool. The target market are the very rich who expect special accommodations both inside the parks and out.
Another potential site for a new hotel does not sit monorail adjacent, but rather in the middle of Bay Lake on Discovery Island connecting it to the former River Country Water Park. This has the advantage of connecting Fort Wilderness with Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, but isn’t on the monorail line which would let Disney sell rooms for a higher rate.
Based on Disney World’s desire to have as many guests stay on property as possible, they might do all the above. Who knows! But we do know something is coming as Disney has started clearing land to build a holding spot for the earth and dirt that will be displaced during the construction. Considering it’s on the STOL airport property, the Grand Floridian luxury bungalows are probably not happening.
Which new Disney resort would you like to see happen first? One of the two EPCOT sites or one of the Magic Kingdom locations?