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The Disney Resort of the Future Will Have This

Have you ever wondered about what Disney resorts will look like in the future? And what sort of amenities will Disney share with their guests? We can only speculate, of course, but recent Disney actions as well as announced ones hint at what’s to come. Using this information, we may evaluate the future of theme park hotels. Here’s everything we know right now.

The resort of the future will have better transportation

Image: DisneyThe Disney Skyliner isn’t a secret at this point. Theme Park Tourist has previously documented this new form of transportation, although it’s actually an old Disney concept that Imagineers have brought back. A gondola once connected Tomorrowland to Fantasyland. That ride, the Skyway, opened in June of 1956, meaning that Disney had a gondola all the way back in year one.

The difference with the resort of the future is in purpose. The Skyway combined style and utility, delivering a panoramic view of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom while saving guests a decent amount of walking. The Disney Skyliner is the company’s way of future-proofing an impending problem. The arrival of Star Wars Land will cause a massive influx of traffic in and around the parks.

Image: DisneyDisney’s embracing the third dimension to attack the issue aggressively. Sure, they’re fixing the roads and entry points to impacted theme parks, but that’s a half-measure at best. The Skyliner takes a currently unused portion of Walt Disney World, the air, to shift guests around the various properties.

By implementing the Skyliner, Disney offsets increased park traffic in a clever way. They can filter theme park tourists in and out of the parks directly from four resorts: Disney’s Pop Century, Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Caribbean Beach, and Disney Riviera Resort. Guests in nearby resorts can head to these properties rather than waiting on buses and boats, too. My estimate is that Disney’s delivering a new transportation option to roughly a quarter of its resort guests.

Moving forward, the Skyliner is easier to expand than a monorail system, too. The financial investment is much more modest. Plus, the monorail isn’t the hot new technology anyway. The world’s first Hyperloop will debut in 2020. You can bet that Disney is studiously researching ways to transport guests across Walt Disney World in these vehicles. Shipping guests underground makes as much as sense as sending them up the sky. These are the transportation options you can expect from Disney in just a few short years.

The resort of the future will have better logistics

Image: DisneySometimes I feel like I mention it too much, but my favorite part of a stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort is that back entrance to Epcot. Called the International Gateway, it’s one of the best kept secrets at Walt Disney World. The guests who know about it use it as much as possible. You just can’t beat the access of walking a quarter-mile to reach the World Showcase.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort has similar convenience to Magic Kingdom. The same is obviously true of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, although Bay Lake Tower is about 200 steps closer to the park entrance. None of this matters to guests who take the monorail into Magic Kingdom, but the utility of proximity is immeasurable.

One of my favorite things to do in the morning is throw on some headphones and listen to my favorite song as I walk to Magic Kingdom. By the time the track ends, I’m ready to tap my Magic Band and enter the park. Bay Lake Tower is that convenient, and parts of Disney’s Beach Club Resort are even closer. I’m talking about a walk of five minutes or less to enter the Most Magical Place on Earth. It’s a spectacular asset for guests staying at these resorts.

Image: DisneyHow does a feature that already exists impact the future? Disney recently announced that Star Wars Hotel will have a direct entrance into Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The article uses terms such as “seamlessly connected” and “complete immersion” for good reason. The goal for Star Wars Hotel guests is to deliver a new form of theming, one with an interactive element I’ll discuss more in the next section.

What’s important from a logistics standpoint is that Disney can’t meet this goal unless the hotel connects directly with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. When guests leave the hotel to enter the world of Batuu, the illusion must hold. It’s the same principle that Walt Disney employed when he founded the Happiest Place on Earth. The back entrance from the resort to Batuu is merely the latest iteration of that premise.

Image: DisneyStar Wars Hotel isn’t the only potential new resort with strong logistics. As Orlando Weekly pointed out, a longstanding rumor about a hotel at the front of Epcot has come back into vogue. Disney’s investing a lot of money into Epcot renovations. A new property at the front of the park would have even more utility than the ones near the International Gateway. Guests could walk out of the hotel lobby and enter Spaceship Earth in a matter of moments.

The Disney theme park of the future should always have a resort located right beside it. Presuming that the company builds both of these Walt Disney World properties, each current gate will have at least one hotel with convenient access, too. Disney’s both retrofitting AND future-proofing the concept.

The resort of the future will be interactive

Image: DisneyWith regards to Star Wars Land’s immersion, it’s a telling sign of another coming trend. During the 21st century, businesses have discovered that customers prefer experiential products over most other options. In the internet era, you can buy virtually anything online, but an experience is something that’s difficult to replicate. Escape Rooms are perhaps the most famous example, but the D-23 Expo is one that all Disney fans appreciate. Everyone would love to attend one at some point…for the experience.

Well, the goal for Star Wars visits is create that sort of feeling. Disney’s aim for Batuu is to build a sort of role playing character experience. When you enter the land, you take a side in the ongoing conflict between the Jedi and the Sith. Bob Chapek, the Chairman of Disney’s Parks & Resorts division, promises that “the story will touch every single minute of your day.” Also, “it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”

Image: DisneyWhile Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the guinea pig for this sort of interactive engagement, Disney’s trained for this since the opening day of Disneyland. Walt Disney always stressed the importance of theming. Modern technology merely affords Imagineers with a new avenue to disseminate a themed experience. You shouldn’t expect this interactivity to reside solely in a galaxy far, far away. The future of a Disney theme park experience should include a kind of real-life version of the Disney Magic Kingdoms app where you unlock special options at the resorts during your visits. Star Wars Hotel is merely the first step down that path of interactivity.

The resort of the future will have better amenities…for a price

Image: DisneyLook, there’s not a polite way to say this, and it’s the touchiest subject for Disney fanatics. We live in a society of the haves and have nots. Park planners must target all of their customers, some of whom have larger budgets. The dreaded upcharges that have proven so controversial aren’t going away. They too are an integral part of the Disney resort of the future.

Recently, we’ve seen a couple of hints about this future. One of them is at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Disney Vacation Club members at this resort may have a pay-to-play concierge service available in future months. Our friends at DVC News reported that the Reunion Station building currently closed for renovation will return with upsell experiences available.

DVC members would pay a daily fee to receive lounge access. Said lounge would have special food and drink options. Guests would also have access to premium experiences, and those would cost an additional amount beyond the initial concierge service fee. Yes, Disney will ask some DVC members to pay twice to get special offerings that aren’t available to non-paying guests.

Image: DisneyAlong those lines, Disney also recently introduced Minnie Van transportation to and from Orlando International Airport. While that sounds like great news on the surface, regular folks shouldn’t get excited. The cost borders on prohibitive at $150 one way.

Even if the price doesn’t scare you off, you cannot buy the service unless you’re staying on the concierge/club level at certain Deluxe Resorts. These properties are already the most expensive on the Walt Disney World campus. The concierge and club levels cost that much more, meaning that Minnie Van airport service is only available to those guests willing to spend at least $600 per night on a hotel room.

We may not like it, but the future of Disney resorts also includes some troublesome elements. Most of them involve a silent form of class warfare wherein regular theme park tourists don’t have the same amenities available as the one percent club. Overall, the future of Disney resorts is extremely bright, but this one element will deservedly receive a lot of negative headlines. Disney’s a business, so they have to do it, though.