A new set of filings with the South Florida Water Management District suggest Disney is ready to proceed with major renovations at Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney.
Years have passed since the shuttering of the last Pleasure Island night clubs and announcement of the stillborn Hyperion Wharf makeover. While Disney has battled the stagnant economy and managed to attract a few new tenants like Raglan Road and Splitsville, many of the area's problems remain today: insufficient parking, a poor layout and empty storefronts.
But rumors of an expansive Downtown Disney makeover are finally gaining steam.
Website ThemeParkInsider.com spotted recent filings with the South Florida Water Management District which suggest major changes to the Downtown Disney area. While these filings relate almost exclusively to bodies-of-water in the area (remove one pond, expand another, etc.), they neatly mesh with plans reported by the site ParkRumors.com.
Major physical construction includes two multi-story parking garages--one on the current Marketplace side adjacent to World of Disney and the other near the West End (Cirque du Soleil, DisneyQuest.) Meanwhile the center lots adjacent to Pleasure Island would host expanded bus depots and new Downtown Disney retail space.
Traffic flows would be improved with roadway modifications, perhaps linking one of the new parking structures directly to nearby I-4.
Permits submitted for the water management project cite a project start date of March 2013.
Should Disney move forward with some version of this project--in particular, the parking structures--one can only hope that more stringent parking policies will be enacted, too. Off-site guests parking at Downtown Disney (free) and then walking to Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa for transportation to theme parks has placed an increasing burden on the Saratoga Springs bus system since the resort opened in 2004.
And since it wasn't that long ago that there was a big announcement regarding the Hyperion project, maybe that is why nothing is being mentioned regarding this latest filing. Is it possible that all the changes in this filing is just part of the Hyperion project?
I don't think it, I know it.
Go to DTD at 8:30 in the morning. Count the cars and then walk thru Marketplace, PI and West Side and count the people.
Both parking and bus service in and out of there is bad. We usually only go on our first or last day. Even when we are only making a souvenir run, and not an event of it, Downtown sucks up as much time as going to a park. (Actually, I think I can do Animal Kingdom faster!)