LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Walt Disney World Resort announced plans Thursday to build an expanded outdoor retail complex called Disney Springs on the site of what is now called Downtown Disney.
Construction will begin in April and new areas will open in phases with completion expected in 2016, the company said in a news release.
The new development will double the number of shops, restaurants and other retailers now in Downtown Disney to 150 establishments, the company said. It will also include open-air promenades and waterfront areas.
Downtown Disney is located outside Disney’s theme parks near Orlando and requires no admission. It was originally called the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village when it opened in 1975. An adults-only section called Pleasure Island had nightclubs, but Disney closed them in 2008 and has been struggling with how to revamp the area.
Disney Springs will have four distinctive areas built around a spring or small body of water: a Town Center with a mix of shopping and dining and a promenade; a commercial district called The Landing with dining and waterfront views; a family-friendly Marketplace with an over-the-water pedestrian causeway and an expanded World of Disney store; and the West Side, with entertainment and shady elevated areas with overlooks.
Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement that Disney Springs would also provide entertainment and would offer to visitors “the same focus on storytelling and attention to detail that goes into our theme parks, resorts and cruise ships.”