Walt Disney World has confirmed that its Downtown Disney area will be transformed into a new shopping and entertainment district dubbed Disney Springs by 2016. The resort has released a swathe of concept artwork for the project, which offers a glimpse into how Disney plans to revitalise an area that has come in for fierce criticism from fans over the past few years.
The conversion of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs will be much more than a simple facelift. Disney plans to double the number of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in the district, boosting the total to more than 150 establishments. Two new multi-story parking garages will also be constructed, as well as new roads to improve the flow of traffic. Parking will be free, while Disney Springs will remain free-to-enter.
Fittingly given its Florida location, Disney Springs will feature a theme centred around an idealised version of turn-of-the-century lakeside town. Disney promises that it will create a "welcoming, comfortable space where families can enjoy time together and instantaneously feel right at home".
Of course, this isn't the first time that Disney has announced a plan to overhaul Downtown Disney. Back in November 2010, it revealed a project to replace the shuttered Pleasure Island area with Hyperion Wharf, which would have recreated the look and atmosphere of a 20th century port city and amusement pier. Having subsequently dropped the idea, the company now says that it has "scrapped a few preliminary plans that we felt didn’t measure up to our aspirations for this place."
With that said, let's take a look at the various areas that will make up the new Disney Springs area, which is due to begin construction next month, with completion in 2016.
Disney Springs will be made up of four primary areas: The Town Center, The Landing, the Marketplace and the West Side. The conceptual model above gives an overview of the area.
An updated entrance featuring a new gateway will welcome guests into the district.
The Town Center will be based around a series of "natural springs" which are said to have attracted settlers to the Disney Springs area. It will host a mix of shops and restaurants, spread along an attractive promenade.
The Landing will offer waterfront views from a variety of dining locations. It will be themed around a thriving commercial district of Disney Springs.
The West Side
The West Side area of Downtown Disney will undergo a slightly less radical transformation. It will offer live entertainment, as well as elevated spaces that will look down on the bustling areas below.
Downtown Disney's Marketplace will be enhanced, adding additional stores (including an expanded World of Disney store), and will boast an over-the-water pedestrian causeway.
What do you think?
An update to Downtown Disney is long overdue. But what do you make of the Disney Springs plans? Let us know via the comments section below.