Downtown Disney as it is known today, along with the Downtown Disney name will be going away over the next three years. Disney Springs will fully spring to life in 2016, adding more shopping, dining and entertainment amid open-air promenades, meandering springs and waterfront charm.
Construction is set to start next month for this overhaul which will not only bring a new name, but two parking garages and a few closings. (Parking will remain free and together the new parking garages will accommodate 6,000 vehicles.) The majority of the changes will be seen in the current Pleasure Island area, which will be broken into districts, but the Marketplace will see a new bridge going from the T-Rex area to the Rainforest Cafe area, and the West Side will receive some “abandoned elevated railroad tracks” that will allow guests to relax and oversee what’s going on below them.
Disney Springs will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands. From boutique shops to unique flagship anchor stores, guests will be able to explore a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences.
“Disney Springs will be a timeless, vibrant place where Walt Disney World guests and local residents can relax, shop, dine and be entertained in an imaginative setting where they’ll instantly feel at home,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Featuring distinctive brands, world-class restaurants and unforgettable entertainment, Disney Springs will be brought to life with the same focus on storytelling and attention to detail that goes into our theme parks, resorts and cruise ships, resulting in a welcoming space that only Disney could create.”
Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, resulting in more than 150 establishments. In addition, Staggs noted, Central Florida stands to benefit from the expansion with more jobs, tax revenues and business opportunities.
Drawing inspiration from Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs will include four outdoor neighborhoods interconnected by a flowing spring and vibrant lakefront. The destination will feature (Click the photos to view them larger):
The current West Side will add a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below. As part of the Disney Springs storyline, the elevations will be abandoned railroad tracks.
As part of the transformation, the current Cap’n Jack’s Restaurant will be closing and Planet Hollywood will become The Observatory, possibly run by the Planet Hollywood owners. Disney said they will share more specific details in the future. Construction is slated to begin next month with new areas opening in phases. Disney Springs is expected to be complete in 2016.
Here’s a video of the full presentation and a tour of the model: