There are lots of changes going on at Downtown Disney. Just in case you haven’t heard, Disney is in the midst of a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort. The expansion to Disney Springs will open in phases and Disney expects the development to be completed in 2016. Once complete, Disney Springs will expand from 75 to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, featuring some of the world’s most iconic brands and restaurants. Construction began in April and already, things look MUCH different. I recently had a chance to wander around and I took a bunch of photos to share with you. Let’s take a look…
The first thing you will notice, before you even reach Downtown Disney on the boat, is the proliferation of cranes. I didn’t count them, but they were everywhere.
Then, when you get closer, you will notice the construction walls – they too are everywhere.
This was the only new building construction that I saw.
The addition of the boardwalk along the waterfront is really fantastic. Downtown Disney can sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic and this walkway really helps with that.
This is the new walkway (still under construction) from Saratoga Springs Resort over to Downtown Disney/Disney Springs.
More cranes… these ones are in the parking lot, working on the new parking structure – a much needed addition.
The construction wall for the parking structure is worth a look to get a nice overview of the changes that are coming.
A hip, new area is Food Truck Park, scheduled to open sometime this summer. There are a few food trucks scattered around different places throughout Downtown Disney already. I imagine those might find a permanent home here.
Already open is a new Starbucks. This one, located in Westside, is huge.
It has an outdoor seating area overlooking the water.
The coolest thing I saw all day was this chalkboard inside of Starbucks. It’s worth going in to see, even if you don’t like coffee.
Look – that’s me on the chalkboard! I’m the one with the camera, in case you weren’t sure.
Pleasure Island is completely walled off and from this point all the way over to Eastside you really know you are in a construction zone. The walk is long and hot, REALLY hot, so be prepared.
Here we are on the walkway that goes along the water. I just love this part! Look how wide it is and how much room there is to walk. I’ll be curious to see how busy this walk gets when all the construction is done and Disney Springs is in full swing.
One good thing about all the wall is that there is a lot of conceptual artwork along the way depicting what everything will look like when it’s done. That part is fun to see.
There’s a really nice new boat launch off the walkway.
From Paradiso 57 all the way to World of Disney there is not a lot to see except a lot of green walls. I’m going to mention again how hot this portion is. There’s no where to get out of the sun so be sure to dress appropriately. Here’s one of the Pleasure Island nightclubs getting a makeover.
The building that was home to Pollo Campero, Bodie’s All-American Grill and the BabyCakes NYC Bakery is now gone.
Next to World of Disney is another new Starbucks – just like in the “real world”, they’re everywhere! This one is walk-up only.
The new walkway that goes over the water from near the Lego store to Rain Forest Cafe is under heavy construction.
Captain Jack’s is completely gone.
Here’s another food truck next to World of Disney.
I swear that some places where there was shade have been paved over. Did I mention that it was really hot?
The new Marketplace Coop is open. This is a cool concept. Inside are several small shops where Disney will test out new stores and/or merchandise.
Another view of the walkway between Rain Forest Cafe and the far side of Eastside. This should be a nice shortcut when it’s done.
This is another view of the building going up along the water’s edge, with Saratoga Springs Resort in the background.
Lastly, this is the entrance to Downtown Disney Westside, from where the current parking area is. I love that they put Lightning and Mater there to welcome everyone.
That’s the end of our tour. No doubt, much of this already looks quite different from when I took these photos. Things seem to really be moving along quickly. Before you know it, we won’t even recognize the place!
~ Barrie Brewer, Social Media Director