Disney World Resort unveils expansion and development plans

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Walt Disney World released some details about two expansion projects for its resort area in Orlando.

The developments, which are still in the preliminary planning stages, are a 900-acre luxury resort to be anchored by a Four Seasons and a 450-acre retail, dining and lodging district.

Along the northeast border of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney plans to convert its Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge golf courses into a luxury resort and golf community. The development will include a Four Seasons hotel, an 18-hole golf course, single- and multifamily vacation homes and fractional-ownership vacation homes.

Under the development plan, Osprey Ridge will remain an 18-hole golf course but will be enhanced. Eagle Pines will be closed, and the property will be redeployed and incorporated into the new resort. 

If the terms of the deal are finalized soon, as expected, the construction work could begin later this year. Disney forecasts that the hotel will open in 2010.

Disney's other development in central Florida will be on the western edge of the Disney property, just outside its gateway near the interchange where Western Way meets the Western Beltway.

It will be a 450-acre retail, dining and lodging district about the size of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

The land for the proposed development is currently vacant.

The development will be designed for pedestrians and will include branded lodging, dining and retail establishments that cater to visitors, local residents and Disney staff. None of the partner brands for the development have been named.

The plans call for "value-priced" hotels as well as 4,000 to 5,000 low-to- midrise, "value-priced" lodging units and 300,000 to 500,000 square feet of commercial space. 

The project, which is currently in the design phase, is expected to be built in phases over the next eight to 10 years.

The proposed developments, with their relatively small scale and new ways of mixing familiar Disney components, are early examples of new strategies recently outlined by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo.

At an investors conference, Rasulo sketched out plans for expanding into new territories with small satellite parks and retail centers, including "niche parks that could serve a much smaller daily audience in a more intimate setting."

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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