Why I’m Skeptical of the Recently Announced “Nature-Inspired” DVC Resort
By this point in time, if you follow Disney Parks news or even quite possibly the news in general, you’ve likely heard that a press release this week shared a few subtle details of a project scheduled to become the next Disney Vacation Club Resort. A name for the new resort has yet to be announced and it is scheduled to open in 2022. The same press release shared that the resort will feature both villas and hotel rooms similar to the many other current DVC style resorts. The resort itself is planned to fill the land near what once was River Country. For years, the space has been untouched and while various tentative plans have circulated time and time again across the internet, this is the very first piece of definitive press release information Disney has shared of a “confirmed” project.
At first, I was thrilled that this project and this space was finally going to be used in an entirely new way. The use of the space has been long overdue, but as I read more and more of the very short release Disney put out, I have to say my secondary and more in depth reaction was one that was almost pure disappointment. I hate to pass judgment on a project based on one conceptual image 4 years before the resort is set to debut, but at the same time this doesn’t scream “Disney” to me. That piece of the puzzle is likely my biggest concern for this project.
I may be one of the few people that are thinking this but I cant help but notice that many of the new projects are starting to all have a distinct look. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the look and while the projects have yet to be completed, I know I cant be the only one that feels this way. Just for reference, here’s the concept art for the new 15-story tower at Coronado Springs.
Both of these projects, and other recent/ongoing resort projects and refurbishments, all have one thing in common. Every single resort appears to be working towards an incredibly modern look and feel while somewhat abandoning the intricate theming roots that Disney has become known for. Again, I’ll save final judgement for when the resorts officially open to guests and I get the opportunity to visit them first hand. At the same time I cant help but think that if any of these images were taken out of the Disney context of this article and the same renderings appeared on a Waldorf Astoria or even quite possibly a Four Seasons resort website, nobody would take a second look.
Don’t get me wrong these still look like wonderful resorts, but if I’m traveling to Disney I don’t want just another luxury resort to stay in, I want something that’s memorable and uniquely different that all other resorts. When you put these renderings next to something like the Polynesian or even the Grand Floridian, there’s a piece of the Magic that appears to be missing from the equation.
Frankly, I hope I’m wrong and I hope we end up with a Bay Lake lakefront property complete with the awe inspiring details of a resort like the Grand Floridian or even Wilderness Lodge. This is certainly not a Boardwalk Resort level of theming in these prospective and in progress projections. Right now, the sole exception project to all of this is the Star Wars resort. That could be an experience that will transport you to an entirely different place and time! The Star Wars project as a whole certainly has it’s flaws but the resort looks like it could be the project that will be pushing the envelope, but it may also push the price point out of reach of many prospective guests.
On a completely different side of things, I have an odd feeling that this project could have been prematurely announced. Something about it just doesn’t sit right with me and makes me question if it may be a project that gets canceled in the coming months/year. Disney is, without a doubt, looking for new and different ways to house the crowds that will inevitably be arriving in the parks once Galaxy’s Edge debuts and other pieces and parts of theme park projects unfold at Magic Kingdom with Tron and the ever developing Epcot revitalization effort.
On a more positive note, the newly redesigned area of Caribbean Beach looks truly spectacular and the theming was very well implemented to both create a more modern look, but also retain theming aspects in a new and updated iteration.
Something else to consider in all of this is how this resort could fit in with the current array of resorts on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Will this resort get it’s own Magic Kingdom boat transportation or will it add another stop to the loop and increase the transit time to Magic Kingdom via watercraft? Will the resort affect the tucked away nature of the Fort Wilderness Campground and Cabins? Will this resort have any sort of River Country connection to the past?
That last question leads me to my hopes for this resort. My hopes are that this resort exceeds my wildest expectations and harkens back to the natural influence that oh so many guests enjoyed at River Country. It was a place that was fun for all the right reasons and a place that continually exceeded expectations. Disney claims that the theming of the resort will be “inspired” by Walt Disney’s love of nature. In an ideal world of pure imagination (please tell me I’m not the only one who sang the song from Willy Wonka…. “Come with me… and you’ll be… in a world of pure imagination…”), this resort would feature a grand lagoon style pool with a new rendition of the classic River Country slides and waterpark elements. Of course, there’s no way it could be connected to Bay Lake today, but the reiteration itself could still take so many guests back to their childhood and be the perfect nostalgic resort in the heart of the magic. Will it happen? Probably not, but we can dream!
On the other hand of all of this, Disney may have more details up their sleeve that could transform the project. Like I mentioned before, this is simply a slight glimpse into the design phase of the resort through a conceptual rendering. There could be, and there likely is, far more to the design that meets the eye. At this point though, I’ll remain skeptical with honest hopes that Imagineering will continue to exceed my wildest expectations as they have done time and time again in the past.
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A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!