Digesting the Disney Springs Announcement

| April 5, 2013 | Reply

Now that we’ve heard the latest news coming from the Disney Parks execs about the future of Downtown Disney and had a few weeks to mull the announcement, let’s step back and look what the future might hold.  Although the details announced were limited, we do have a general idea of what it will look like and some of the major changes that we can expect.  Let’s look at some of the changes and give some thought on the future of the district.

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Springs here, springs there, springs everywhere – What’s in a name?

It appears Disney has a love affair with springs.  Obviously, water plays an important role in Disney’s landscape.  There’s Coronado Springs, Saratoga Springs, and now on an even bigger scale, Disney Springs.  Disney decided to incorporate more of the water aspect by utilizing the nearby lake.  This means we’ll see expansion out into the lake with bridges and more buildings to ease foot traffic and increase space.  The introduction of the water aspect fits well with the lake and Disney Springs’ neighbor Saratoga Springs.

I loved the name Downtown Disney and was initially disappointed when I heard it would be no more.  But, I quickly realized Disney Springs fits the theme much better with the inclusion of waterways, bridges, and neighborhoods.  With that type of development and expansion it’s no longer a downtown style district with a west side, entertainment district, and a marketplace.  We can also expect more landscaping and fountains to pop up throughout the neighborhoods giving the district a more “springs” appeal.

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Cars, parking, traffic, Oh My!

It’s a somewhat quiet day along Buena Vista Blvd.  Stop!  Go!  Stop! Go!  Stop!  You get the idea.  The traffic isn’t heavy, but these darn traffic lights are setup every 100 feet.  That stinks!  Now add in the traffic and getting past Downtown Disney takes 30 minutes.  For someone on vacation that’s valuable, but wasted time.  Who wants to waste time at Disney World?  You want to get to where you need to go as soon and safely as possible.  We’re really not sure if Disney will widen Buena Vista Blvd or what they might have up their sleeve to move traffic through the area.  Maybe round-a-bouts with more turning lanes in and out of the proposed parking garages.  And possibly Disney could remove one or two of the current traffic lights along Buena Vista Blvd.

Maybe you want to pull into Downtown Disney for a snack or to pick-up that last minute souvenir.  Well, you may find yourself driving around for a while looking for a parking spot.  More valuable time wasted.  You could probably find a spot at the parking lot near the West Side, but your destination is the Marketplace.  You’ve already walked 50 miles in the theme parks.  You don’t want to walk another mile across Downtown Disney.  Disney has proposed the construction of two new parking garages to increase the number of parking spaces for guests.  Not only that, who doesn’t love covered parking in Central Florida.  Having those additional spaces and covered parking is a huge plus to the future Disney Springs plan.  Quick!  Somebody click the “Like” button.

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Shopping and eating with no end in sight

After Pleasure Island closed what was once something unique seemed to become an outdoor shopping mall or lifestyle center.  Personally, I still feel Downtown Disney is much the same today.  There’s shopping and dining everywhere and not much beyond those offerings.  The addition of Splitsville (bowling center) was a huge step in the right direction.  An entertainment option that was desperately needed in the district.  Tom Staggs said that when the Disney Springs expansion was complete the complex would be almost twice its size.  What was rather apparent was the majority of the expansion would include more shopping and dining options adding to the already huge offerings we have today.  Does Downtown Disney need a lot more of the same?  Choice and variety are good, but you can have an imbalance of too much of the same as you walk along the district.

We don’t know what shops and dining establishments will be added to Disney Springs.  All we know is more space will be available to add them later.  It will be up to Disney to attract new franchises and create their own shops and restaurants.  Disney will likely create very few of their own.  In reality, Disney has become a mall or lifestyle proprietor trying to fill spaces in their new Disney Springs development.  Vacationers travel to Disney World to get away from the norm at home.  Let’s hope they can attract some very unique and unusual establishments.

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But what about the entertainment?

When Downtown Disney lost Pleasure Island the after dark crowd at Disney was left with few options.  Jellyrolls and the Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk just don’t have the appeal for guests to stay up late.  Late night Disney fans were hoping with a renovation of Downtown Disney that more entertainment options would come with it.  In a recent post by Tom Staggs on the Disney Parks Blog he responded to a question saying late night entertainment would be addressed at Disney Springs.  Although, we have no idea to what level Disney will address the late night offerings.  It could be a few bars, comedy or night clubs, or more family entertainment.  More than likely, we should probably expect this type of entertainment to be provided by third party entities and not Disney owned and operated.

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Conclusion

As Disney gets ready to turn the page from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs we’ll wave a fond goodbye to a bustling downtown district and say hello to a more lush waterfront.  Although we don’t know what to really expect in regards to the addition of many more shops, restaurants, and possible entertainment offerings we are hopeful they’ll have fan and guest appeal.

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Let’s hope late night entertainment is addressed.  Let’s cross our fingers that the new design of Disney Springs is consistent with what the artist renderings depicted.  The renderings look amazing so we hope they are consistent with what Disney plans to construct.  The promise of improved parking, traffic flow, and guest mobility are also on the docket for the future of Disney Springs.  Wishful thinking?  Probably not as Disney usually delivers on what they say, especially when it comes to something as revenue generating as Disney Springs.  A failure at Disney Springs is something the Disney Company couldn’t afford.  Maybe that’s why it’s taken up until now to get a definitive plan for the future of Downtown Disney.

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Category: Disney World