Hotel refurbishments, resort construction, and character-inspired makeovers continue at Walt Disney World in 2022 & 2023. This resource provides info on room renovations, what to avoid, where to book, and what to expect in terms of hotel work at Walt Disney World. (Updated September 24, 2022.)
Even with the 50th Anniversary now underway, Walt Disney World continues to undertake refurbishments as staffing shortages preclude full occupancy of the resorts. Consequently, there are a number of smaller-scale projects that take certain buildings or a portion of rooms out of commission as part of more-targeted, rolling refurbishments.
We do Walt Disney World monthly hotel stays, usually emphasizing resorts where there are new things, changes, or ongoing construction to see how that harms, improves, or otherwise impacts the guest experience. If you’ve yet to book a hotel for your upcoming Walt Disney World vacation and want to be notified about all of the latest resort changes, sign up here for our FREE Disney newsletter here.
When booking a Walt Disney World vacation, we highly recommend taking into account recently-completed and ongoing construction projects at the various resorts, as these absolutely can impact the quality of your trip. Booking a hotel with a closed pool or construction noise and cranes right outside your window is obviously going to be a worse experience than a resort that just finished its big refurbishment and still has that fresh feeling and ‘new hotel’ smell.
Suffice to say, a lot is happening on the hotel front at Walt Disney World. Let’s take a look at all of the current and upcoming major hotel projects that have the potential to impact guests…
Ongoing or Upcoming Hotel Refurbishments
All Star Movies – While the room renovations at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort are now finished, more updates are expected in the next couple of years.
Looking way down the road to early 2024, the Fantasia Pool at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort will be closed for routine maintenance from January through April 2024. Guests may see or hear construction work during daytime hours. During this time, hotel guests are welcome to swim in the Duck Pond Pool at Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort.
All Star Sports – Walt Disney World delayed the reopening of All Star Sports Resort to “refresh the Sports theme area.” Many of the facades and props received thorough cleanings and a fresh coat of paint, and are looking great. However, it came as quite the surprise that when the hotel reopened recently, the rooms were unchanged.
Despite this puzzling move (or lack thereof), the room refurbishment is still proceeding at All Star Sports in the second half of 2022. We recently did stays at the All Stars, and there was a construction staging area set up in the parking lots between Sports and Music. Work has started with the Touchdown (football) and Homerun Hotel (baseball) sections of the resort, or buildings 7-10.
Walt Disney World is adding and changing elements of the beloved turn-of-the-century promenade and inside the Deluxe Resort, including a new lobby design, nearby coffee bar, delectable dining options, refreshed guest rooms, and more. The biggest change is that a new restaurant will replace ESPN Club, and will open in 2023.
Boulder Ridge Villas – Finally. The original Wilderness Lodge DVC room renovations were originally slated for 2020, but delayed due to the closure and then to prioritize projects at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian. Earlier this year, DVC leadership emphasized that this project was time slated to occur, and permits were filed over the summer.
Oddly enough, the project is currently scattered across 3 rooms on the fourth floor and one on the fifth floor, with a range of room types represented. That suggests these are test or model room reimaginings occurring ahead of the project. Hopefully, this won’t take long and is simply a run-through before starting the project at full speed.
For what it’s worth, we saw the model room almost two years ago, and was identical to the redone Polynesian and Grand Floridian villas in layout, but obviously not style. It looked fantastic! We are huge fans of Wilderness Lodge and themed design, and as such, are often skeptical about changes to this property. However, we’re excited for these new rooms. They should be big upgrades in both form and function.
Of course, a lot of time has passed since then, so it’s possible DVC is revisiting the design before finalizing the plan. In any case, we’d still expect the full room reimaging to begin this fall and finish by early 2023.
Caribbean Beach – The Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort are being discontinued in 2023. Something is likely going to happen with the Trinidad section of Caribbean Beach–the question is what?! We speculate as to what might happen with these rooms in “Dead Rooms Tell No Tales: Caribbean Beach Pirate Retirement.”
Additionally, from January 2024 through April 2024, the Fuentes del Morro Pool at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be closed for routine maintenance. Guests may see or hear construction work during daytime hours. During this time, hotel guests are welcome to swim in any of the 5 leisure pools at Caribbean Beach Resort.
Contemporary Resort – Work on room overhauls in both the A-frame tower and Garden Wing of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is now finished. Additionally, the redesigned lobby and Steakhouse 71 restaurant have opened. See Photos & Review: Contemporary’s Hit & Miss Makeoverfor a look around.
From September 27 to 29, 2022 refurbishment work will take place in the common areas of the 12th floor at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Guests will see and hear refurbishment work throughout the resort’s main tower atrium during daytime hours, typically from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some elevators will be out of service while this work is completed, but all walkways will remain open and available to guests. (Don’t be surprised if this is delayed due to Hurricane Ian.)
Additionally, the Feature Pool and whirlpool spa will again be closed for refurbishment from January 9, 2023 through early April 2023. The water play area and Bay Lake Pool will remain open during that project.
Cooper Creek Villas – Another project at Wilderness Lodge, this time to the main building. Walt Disney World has released the following statement about this project:
To ensure our facilities are maintained to the highest quality standards, we will be refurbishing some of our Guest room balconies at Copper Creek Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Beginning September 26, Guests will see and hear refurbishment work in and around Copper Creek Villas during daytime hours. Refurbishment work is expected to be complete in early November 2022.
Fort Wilderness Campground – Through April 3, 2023, Meadow Swimmin’ Pool and whirlpool spa will be closed for refurbishment. The water play area and Meadow Snack Bar along with the Wilderness Swimmin’ pool will remain open.
The beach refurbishment at Fort Wilderness is finished. This began at the start of summer, and occurred in sections. There are still lingering vestiges of the cancelled Reflections — A Disney Lakeside Lodge project. However, there is no audible/visible construction impact at Fort Wilderness.
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Disney Vacation Club overhauled the Big Pine Key building of hotel rooms at Walt Disney World’s flagship resort. This building has since reopened and the new rooms have debuted–see Grand New Rooms at Walt Disney World’s Flagship Resort for a look inside.
Additionally, Narcoossee’s–the waterfront restaurant at Grand Floridian–is now closed. Narcoossee’s is expected to reopen in 2023 as an enhanced dining experience. In the meantime, Citricos is now open seven days a week.
Although not yet officially announced, Grand Floridian is receiving a substantial overhaul with “Enchanted Gardens” as the unifying visual style. The scope and scale are not yet known, but the most likely scenario is the hotel rooms receiving a reimagining that’s similar to the DVC side. See our Grand Floridian Resort Reimagining Reportfor more details.
Polynesian Village Resort – Walt Disney World has announced plans to build a new DVC tower at Polynesian Village Resort, replacing Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, between the existing Polynesian longhouses and Wedding Pavilion, near the Grand Floridian.
In advance of this, Walt Disney World has updated its official site with this message: “As we prepare for the proposed expansion at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you will see and hear construction at certain times of day. To minimize disruptions during your stay, activities that may create noise will not start earlier than 9 a.m.”
If you’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort anytime in the next 2 years, we’d recommend requesting a room that is not in the Aotearoa, Fiji, or Tuvalu longhouses. Those buildings are adjacent to the construction site, and the only ones that should be impacted in any material way. The DVC tower construction will be visible from other locations in the resort once it goes vertical, but the impact should otherwise be minor.
No construction timeline or other details have been announced for the Polynesian tower, but work has already started in Luau Cove, with the demolition of Spirit of Aloha. At present, the walkway connecting the Poly and Grand Floridian remains open–there’s just a fence on one side of it. At some point, that’ll almost certainly close entirely and the entire beach will be walled-off, too.
Port Orleans French Quarter – From January 2024 through April 2024, the Doubloon Lagoon pool at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter will be closed for routine maintenance.
Guests may see or hear construction work during day time hours. During this time, hotel patrons are welcome to swim in the Ol’ Man Island pool at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. (That’s about a 10-15 minute walk from Port Orleans French Quarter.)
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Beginning October 3, 2022 and continuing through mid-December, the Congress Park leisure pool and the Treehouse Villa pools will be closed for refurbishment. During this time, the High Rock Spring Pool, Grandstand Pool and Paddock Pool will remain open during usual operating hours. Shuttle transportation between the Treehouse Villas and the High Rock Springs Pool will be available from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily.
Following that from early January 2023 through late-March 2023, High Rock Spring Pool and On the Rocks Pool Bar will be closed while the pool undergoes refurbishment. The Grandstand Pool, The Paddock Pool, and Congress Park Pool will remain open.
Otherwise, the multi-year enhancement project is now finished, and Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is looking great! Every single room new and has a number of functional and aesthetic improvements. We’ve stayed in these overhauled accommodations at SSR, and share the experience in our Photos & Video: New Rooms at Saratoga Springs Resortpost.
Along with the new rooms, a number of upgrades have been made around Saratoga Springs Resort in the last couple of years. The lobby was renovated and modernized, with seating added in this area and elsewhere in the main building. In addition to that, the Paddock pool and its slide were refurbishment.
Major Completed Refurbishments
All Star Movies & Music – Following their reopening, the room overhauls are finished at both All Star Music and Movies.
Saratoga Springs – For the first time in its 15 year history, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa received a top to bottom refurbishment of both the exterior and interior of the resort that wrapped up this fall. We stayed in the new rooms, and share thoughts, photos & video in Splendid New Rooms at Saratoga Springs Resort Tour.
Additionally, Saratoga Springs received lobby, porte cochere, and pool refurbishments. All of this work is now finished.
Villas at Grand Floridian – This small DVC property received renovations, which revolved around the installation of foldaway beds behind living room sofas. This feature debuted at Disney’s Riviera Resort before becoming part of the recent refurbishment of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
We are huge fans of this feature, and it’s a welcome addition to the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Wilderness Lodge – This big top to bottom room redesign for the hotel side of Wilderness Lodge is now finished. In addition to standard guest rooms being redesigned, the same has happened with Club Level rooms and Old Faithful Club Lounge. Work on the grounds around Wilderness Lodge also has concluded, with Fire Rock Geyser being refurbished and some larger trees removed.
Have any recent observations or experiences with hotel construction at Walt Disney World you’d be willing to share? Where at Walt Disney World are you staying in 2022 or 2023? Any resorts you’re intentionally avoiding? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments of these resort refurbishment or reimagining projects? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!