Walt Disney World has just announced another hotel expansion, this time adding a 15-story tower to Coronado Springs Resort that will add 500 rooms, including suites and concierge-level services. Additionally, the resort will also refurbish its current resort rooms, transforming its landscape with floating gardens and an island that connects the resort through a series of bridges.
The new business-class tower will overlook Lago Dorado, the resort’s centerpiece lake, and will also feature rooftop dining with panoramic views of nighttime fireworks from Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (While not explicitly stated, there will not be anything Moderate about this. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney eliminates the Value, Moderate, Deluxe distinctions in the near future.)
The news about this is still breaking (in fact, I was in the process of writing a rumor version of this post before Disney made the official announcement), but the goal of the Coronado Springs expansion seems to be catering more to business and convention guests (as we write in our Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort Review, it’s basically “the convention hotel”), many of whom expect higher caliber accommodations.
This follows yesterday’s rumor of a Gondola Skyway Coming to Walt Disney World? and in that post, we stated that one of the reasons we felt the rumor had veracity was because the gondolas “could alleviate some of that stress and allow expansion at resort hotels without reaching the breaking point.”
Well, here’s the ‘other half’ of that rumor, so to speak. You can expect even more Walt Disney World hotel news and rumors in the near future…
One thing that strikes me about the concept art is that it looks a lot like Shanghai Disneyland Hotel from the exterior. Take a look at my photo of Shanghai Disneyland Hotel above. (Is it just me?)
…Hopefully the finished product doesn’t match the concept art or Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. That is an Art Nouveau style, which definitely does not fit the theme of Coronado Springs. We get that conventioneers don’t care so much about theme, but at least draw some sort of tenuous connection, Disney.
Before the announcement, Len Testa over at TouringPlans.com posted the plans on Twitter:
In addition to his posting of the plans, @Coaster Lover on the WDWMagic forums overlaid the plan with a map of Coronado Springs.
It’s interesting that Disney would announce this before construction has begun, as the company does not tend to announce hotel projects for Florida until they are underway and at the point their construction in plain view can no longer be denied.
On the other hand, if the goal is to lure companies and convention business to book with Walt Disney World at Coronado Springs going forward, it might behoove Disney to announce sooner rather than later in order to incentivize bookings.
As much as fans might hate to hear this, Walt Disney World’s core business is rooms (hotel and DVC), not theme parks. The significant investment we are seeing now in the theme parks is done with the aim of increasing attendance–but also with the aim of increasing room occupancy. With occupancy rates already pretty high, that means adding room inventory.
With Star Wars Land opening in 2019 (and being a guaranteed draw), we are likely in for a couple years of significant expansion on the hotel and Disney Vacation Club side of Walt Disney World’s business. That means news like today’s could start to be a more common thing.
An expansion like this at Coronado Springs makes a lot of sense. First, giving the resort more range to cater to business travelers makes sense. The rooms and exterior hallways are likely not up to the standards of c-suite types who would be attending a lot of conferences.
Second, concentrating Walt Disney World’s conference business at Coronado Springs, a resort that isn’t particularly popular with non-business travelers (sorry, Coronado Springs fans) frees up space at resorts that are popular with “regular” Disney guests.
Finally, any hotel expansion that targets specific, underserved segments also seems savvy. Just as going after the convention market makes sense, I’d also expect to see more family suites, and an increase in other room types beyond Walt Disney World’s standard rooms.
The takeaway from all of this, even if you couldn’t care less about Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, is that the next few years are going to be a booming time for Walt Disney World. In addition to all of the theme park expansion, you should expect a lot in terms of expansion elsewhere around the resort to accommodate the increased attendance and number of guests flocking to the resort. With the huge capital project of Shanghai Disneyland completed, Parks & Resorts’ resources can now be directed elsewhere. After a period of neglect, it would seem Florida is that “elsewhere,” and Walt Disney World is finally receiving the level of investment it deserves. Perhaps this is the new “Disney Decade” for the Florida Project…
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What do you think about this new tower coming to Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort? Is this exciting news, or do you not care? Share any questions, armchair Imagineering, or additional thoughts you have in the comments!