What to Expect
With the much anticipated remodel of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, many people are wondering just what to expect from Walt Disney World's latest project. Downtown Disney has been a staple of Orlando life for what feels like ever and the overhaul is going to affect not only the tourism industry, but day to day life for many Orlando residents as well. Since it's opening in 1975, Downtown Disney has remained predominantly unchanged. Some shops and experiences has come and gone with the times, but the core experience is remarkably similar to what it was almost 40 years ago. Below is a picture of Downtown Disney before the redesign.
So why the sudden change of heart?
For quite awhile, Downtown Disney has been receiving negative reviews about the current experience. Choruses of "not enough for the kids" and "too commercial" have been hanging around this destination for years. Additionally, this area has been divided into three somewhat disjointed sections: The West Side, The Marketplace, and Pleasure Island. Disney Springs plans to create a more cohesive experience. The new location will keep The Marketplace and West Side with new locations The Town Center and The Landing replacing Pleasure Island. None of the sites will make it through the process completely untouched and the area will soon be what Disney is calling "a timeless and vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside town." Keeping with that description, the unifying theme will be more of a waterfront town rich with scenery, shops, and entertainment. This design should cater much more to families and address complaints of commercialism by with its warm and rustic feel. Below is the anticipated layout to be completed in 2016.
What does this mean for marketing?
For starters, you should know that people haven't exactly been thrilled with the construction process. Disney has kept Downtown open while they transition and reviewers have done nothing but tear them down since it started.
"The main road leading to downtown Disney was a nightmare. The road as well as Downtown Disney are under-construction leaving travelers confused on where to park. Once you finally figure out parking you are then treated to another maze of barricades lining the walkways." -Lauren S, tripadvisor.com
Considering the project is expected to last for another two years minimum, Disney's going to need to save some serious face when this is all over. People go to Disney for the experience and when any part of that is tainted, it's bad for the brand. Additionally, they'll need to notify people when it's all over. Two reasons why. One: People who have been inconvenienced by the construction need to know they don't have to deal with it anymore and Two: People who weren't crazy about Downtown Disney before need to know it's a totally new experience now.
Anyone who wants to keep up with this story should visit Disney's blog over at disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog. They post Disney Springs updates kind of irregularly at the moment, but as we get closer to 2016 and that completion date, I expect you'll see a lot more information coming through.
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Marketing and statistics student at the University of Central Florida, Orlando.