Evidence of a proposed Disney Vacation Club property adjacent to Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort date back nearly 18 months to October 2010. After lying dormant for so long, could we finally be seeing some progress on this project?
The multi-phase construction project was to involve relocation of several existing Fort Wilderness assets including the Tri-Circle-D Ranch to make way for an apparent wing of Disney Vacation Club villas. But as rumors of the DVC expansion to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort heated up the Fort Wilderness project cooled. However a recently-granted suggests Disney is ready to proceed.
On March 28, 2012 the South Florida Water Management District approved Disney's request for a new construction trailer complex at the STOLport site just outside the Magic Kingdom resort area. The STOLport is an old small plane landing strip to the right of the toll booths as guests enter the Magic Kingdom area. For several years now Disney has been using it for construction staging on projects including the Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort and the current Grand Floridian expansion.
The March 28 approval grants permission to proceed on "Project 2011-2D" which is the installation of a temporary trailer complex including all required utility lines and land modifications.
Other permits under the "Project 2011-2" banner also relate to Fort Wilderness. These include the previously mentioned Tri-Circle-D Ranch relocation, road modifications and construction of new facilities.
So does this mean that more DVC villas will soon be under construction? Maybe.
Many of the records related to this project have been sealed by the SFWMD at Disney's request. As such, it is difficult to gauge Disney's exact intent at this time, including any modifications filed since the original plans leaked in October '10.
It is also worth noting that this is not the first time Disney was granted approval for the trailer complex. A previous approval was granted back in September 2011 for "Project 2011-2D" and that permit references an even older request for the same task.
This is a project which has already met with its share of delays, a situation which may have been exacerbated by the August 2011 departure of former DVC President Jim Lewis.
Still it is clear that Disney remains interested in moving forward with some project at Fort Wilderness.
With Disney Vacation Club units still available in Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, Aulani, Disney Vacation Club Villas and the forthcoming Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, a Fort Wilderness timeline remains uncertain. The relocation of the Tri-Circle-D Ranch and other infrastructure changes would precede construction on new resort accommodations. Completing necessary work now leaves Disney with the flexibility to begin villa construction at a time which best suits Disney Vacation Club's business needs.
Also in 2010, Disney expanded its facilities at the STOLport location, which houses several construction trailers. The original EPDP included permit requests for expanding STOLport, and so, too, did Project 2011-1, which we now know is the Villas at Grand Floridian project. The only permits that were recently filed -- at least those that are available on the SFWMD public website -- involve an expansion of the STOLport complex. By itself, it doesn't mean that Disney plans to build a DVC resort at FTW.