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Major facelift for Walt Disney World Resort

(L-R) Actors Marcus Scribner, Marsai Martin, Miles Brown and Yara Shahidi, from the cast of the ABC series "black-ish," take a selfie March 28, 2015 with Princess Tiana at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The four visited Walt Disney World Resort with their families to kick off their summer break and celebrate the success of the show's first season. (Mariah Wild, photographer)

Walt Disney World Resort, one of the world’s largest entertainment and recreation destinations, is in the midst of a major facelift.

Large areas of the sprawling central Florida site, equivalent to the size of San Francisco, are being revamped or expanded in an ambitious, multifaceted, multimillion-dollar operation.

The newest Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows features 20 Bungalows on Seven Seas Lagoon, the first of this type of accommodation for Disney, and when complete this summer, 360 Deluxe Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The expansion is part of an overall re-imagination of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

The newest Disney Vacation Club Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows features 20 Bungalows on Seven Seas Lagoon, the first of this type of accommodation for Disney, and when complete this summer, 360 Deluxe Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The expansion is part of an overall re-imagination of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Renovations, or “reimaging” as cast members like to say, includes massive refurbishments to the Polynesian Village Resort, incorporating 20 brand new over-the-water bungalows and 360 deluxe studio villas, as part of the expansion of the Disney Vacation Club portfolio.

Other noteworthy additions include new dining and entertainment experiences in Epcot and a recently expanded Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.

A new Harambe Marketplace at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also scheduled to open later this month. The theme park will be adding a night-time spectacular show, marking the first time the park will be open in the evening.

The highly-anticipated recreation of Pandora based on the blockbuster movie Avatar, is scheduled to open in Animal Kingdom in 2017.

“We have a sizable investment in new projects that are either recently completed or are coming out of the ground here,” said George A. Kalogridis, President, Walt Disney World Resort, at the Coolest Summer Ever media conference last Friday.

“We’ve doubled the size of Fantasyland and Magic Kingdom Park and reimaged Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, adding new enhancements to one of our original resort hotels.”

Interior shot of The Boathouse, an upscale waterfront restaurant that opened in Downtown Disney in April 2015. The superior dining experience offers guests everything from fresh seafood to water attractions. Photo Credit: Kunbi Tinuoye

Interior shot of The Boathouse, an upscale waterfront restaurant that opened in Downtown Disney in April 2015. The superior dining experience offers guests everything from fresh seafood to water attractions. Photo Credit: Kunbi Tinuoye

The Coolest Summer Ever marks the beginning of summer and kicks off with a 24-hour celebration at Magic Kingdom Park during Memorial Day weekend. The theme park will be open to guests for 24 hours of nonstop fun from 6a.m.-6a.m. May 22-23.

Downtown Disney, also part of the Disney experience for tourists and Florida residents alike, is also being transformed with several new retail stores and swanky new restaurants that will make better use of the waterfront.

“Downtown Disney is literally going through a transformation,” said Ramit Kapoor, a Disney marketing manager “We’re going through a re-imagination of what’s here today. We’ve got a lot of great current offerings and there’s a lot of excitement to the future as part of this massive transformation of the property.”

“We’ve had a busy couple of months opening eight new retail locations at the landing, the first of our four Disney Springs neighborhoods,” adds Kalogridis.

For example, The Boathouse, an upscale waterfront restaurant, opened in April 2015. The superior dining experience offers guests everything from fresh seafood to prime steak and beef, complete with water attractions.

Soon-to-open restaurants include STK Steakhouse and Morimoto Asia, both scheduled to open in Fall 2015.

It’s the largest expansion in Downtown Disney’s history as the area transforms to the reimagined Disney Springs, a new waterfront district for shopping, dining and entertainment. Disney Springs, scheduled for completion in 2016, will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment venues from 70 to nearly 150.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter@Kunbiti

 

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Kunbi Tinuoye
Kunbi Tinuoye
Kunbi Tinuoye is the founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz. Previously, she worked as a News Correspondent for NBC’s theGrio. Prior, she was a senior broadcast journalist for the BBC in London. Tinuoye currently sits on the SXSW Pitch Advisory Board and CES Conference Advisory Board. She is a key player in the Atlanta tech startup ecosystem and serves as a mentor for Comcast NBCUniversal’s The Farm Accelerator. Tinuoye has received several awards and accolades, including being honored with a Resolution from the Georgia Legislative.
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