Thirty years ago, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) launched, and it hasn’t stopped construction since. I think when a lot of people initially hear about DVC, they likely imagine that it’s simply vacation opportunities at the Disney Parks around the world, but it’s so much more.
In some cases, Disney teams up with existing resorts that pass their high standards; other times, Disney builds their own resorts not attached to the theme parks. The most famous of these is probably Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii.
There’s one place I’ve always wanted Disney Vacation Club to build a resort that would make total sense for the company: New York City.
Disney has had a footprint in NYC for many years now, most notably (at least for this theater nerd) with Disney on Broadway. Disney’s first Broadway show opened in 1994 with the musical adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” In the following years, Disney continued to release hit musicals with “Aida,” “The Lion King,” and beyond. These days, it’s typical for Disney to have two or three musicals playing on Broadway at the same time.
Just imagine if Disney Vacation Club were to build a resort in the heart of Manhattan and around Times Square to be near the Disney on Broadway shows. They could offer Disney on Broadway package deals with the resort, perhaps a Planet Hollywood-esque restaurant full of props and costumes from their past shows, move their Times Square Disney store into the hotel, and so much more.
I know real estate in New York City certainly isn’t inexpensive, but with the pandemic forcing people to move out of the city, the cost of real estate right now is probably better than it has been in the past decade. If they were to build a hotel, I would hope and expect for the first floor to have numerous opportunities for tourists to experience who weren’t necessarily staying at the hotel. In addition to the previously-mentioned Disney store, it would be pretty darn cool to have an Adventurers Club 2.0 in the hotel. This somewhat mysterious Disney entertainment offering of yesteryear certainly feels as though it would fit in nicely amongst the theater vibe of NYC.
I would fully expect that a grandiose theater would be part of this hotel as well, which is certainly not unheard of in Manhattan. As it stands, although Disney regularly has shows being produced on Broadway, they don’t own any of the theaters in which their shows are performed. Even the New Amsterdam Theatre “only” has a 99-year lease that began in 1993. I think it would be a major deal for Disney Theatrical Group to have its own theater where they would call the shots. I’m sure it would put a smile on Tom Schumacher’s (current president of Disney Theatrical Group) face.
As with a lot of Disney resorts, this one could also have some off-site excursions. Disney already has the ABC Studios where they shoot “Good Morning America” right in Times Square – in fact, the Imagineers designed this television studio. I’m sure a lot of Disney fans would enjoy a behind the scenes tour. Or what about a tour that brings you to the numerous real-life locations where Disney entertainment was shot in New York? They could take you to Central Park in order to recreate the classic “That’s How You Know” scene from “Enchanted,” or perhaps locations from “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” or even “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”
Overall, I think if Disney were ever to think about building a hotel in NYC, now is the time to make it happen. Disney already has a major footprint in the city that never sleeps, but now it’s time for them to have a true “home base” to make an impression in a major way.
What do you think? Would a Disney hotel in Times Square make you more interested in visiting New York City? If not, which non-Disney location do you think it would make sense for them to build upon?
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.