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 May 12, 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 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. Expect the work to begin once youth events season ends at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, starting with the Touchdown (football) and Homerun Hotel (baseball) sections of the resort, or buildings 7-10.
Art of Animation – Flippin’ Fins Pool, Schoolyard Splashground, Cozy Cone Pool, and the Big Blue pool have now all reopened from their refurbishments earlier in the year.
As of May 2022, some work continues to the oversized icons and building exteriors, but it’s entirely superficial (e.g. fresh coats of paint). All pool and play areas are open once again.
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.
Contemporary Resort – Work on room overhauls in the A-Frame Tower 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.
Work continues on other areas of the resort, including rooms in the Garden Wing. While there’s no timeline for when this will be completely finished, many rooms are already done and the parking lot that was previously closed as a staging area has reopened. Judging by how much is already done, our expectation is that this will be finished by the end of this month or June 2022 at the latest.
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.
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.
Work has been completed on Tri-Circle-D Ranch, which is now open to resort guests and those with reservations. Other enhancements in the Settlement are also finished and those walls have come down. 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, aside from the blight.
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Disney Vacation Club has announced plans to expand the Villas at Grand Floridian by overhauling the Big Pine Key building of existing hotel rooms at Walt Disney World’s flagship resort. This project is now underway and will likely last until mid-2023.
During this time, guests may see or hear construction during daytime hours, but most hotel amenities will remain available. As pictured above, there are construction walls and scaffolding up around this building, which abuts the Courtyard Pool and is across from the main building of Grand Floridian.
Beyond the DVC expansion, don’t be surprised if Grand Floridian receives a substantial overhaul in 2022 or 2023. There were rumors of a refurbishment pre-closure, but those have since fizzled out. However, it would make sense to take those rooms down if other Magic Kingdom resorts can absorb the displaced guests.
Villas at Grand Floridian – This small DVC property is now receiving renovations scheduled for completion by Summer 2022, which involves 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 expect it to be a solid addition at both resorts.
Construction is underway inside the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, with rooms on most floors now being done. This project should be finished before the start of summer.
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. No construction timeline or other details have been announced, but it’s expected to open in late 2024.
Wilderness Lodge’s Boulder Ridge Villas – Sometime in 2022, the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will receive a full refurbishment, including redesigned rooms. The specific date still has not yet been set, but we suspect it won’t happen until August or September and be done as quickly as possible.
There’s also no concept art for those rooms, but we’ve seen test rooms (that look fantastic). If those are the final design, expect something that melds elements of the current style plus that of Copper Creek with the functionality of the new rooms at Saratoga Springs.
Major Completed Refurbishments
All Star Movies & Music – Following their reopening, the room overhauls are finished at both All Star Music and Movies.
Port Orleans Riverside – The soft goods refurbishment project that includes the addition of Princess and the Frog thematic elements and other functional design changes is now finished at Port Orleans Riverside. We stayed in these and wrote about the experience in our New Rooms at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside post.
Prior to the closure, the Royal Rooms were still left to be renovated. Oddly, only some of those rooms were finished and there are no signs of construction crews, so our assumption is that the second half of this project has been abandoned.
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.
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!