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  1. #1

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    Lightbulb The layout of Walt Disney World

    Question: Where does Walt Disney World miss the mark, and where does it hit a bullseye? I'm talking about the layout of Walt Disney World.

    I'm talking about the layout of the parks. But also the hotels and other amenities. And their locations. And the distances between them, the choices made to put things where they are.

    Because in my view certain aspects: The Magic Kingdom behind Seven Seas Lagoon, it's utiladors beneath the park and so forth, are a success. But it's sort of smashed into the corner, making development around the park impossible.

    Would DisneyWorld have been better if the resort hotels were natural extensions of the park's lands, with for example: a WILDERNESS LODGE adjacent to Frontierland, or The Grand Floridian in front of the main gate, like Paris' Disneyland Hotel?

    Because on the one hand, it seems like Walt Disney World was master planned, and on the other, it seems like they developed the property rather haphazardly, dropping hotels all around without really tying their themes into the parks nearby.

    What works, what doesn't? And what would you do differently if you could pick everything up and put it back down on the ground again?

  2. #2

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Reall quickly, what works for me is the total immersion. You just don't see the real world from almost anywhere on the property, so there isn't the culture shock or the illusion isn't shattered by realityland.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    What if it was master planned so the hotels were along walking paths circling the parks, I don't know, somehow avoiding the buses and long commutes by master planning the resort the way Walt designed EPCOT city.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    the problem with having the hotels around the parks are sight line issues. they would clearly be the tallest buildings around, besides the castle of course, and totally throw off some of the forced perspective a lot of the parks attractions utilize. it would also create a major limit on park expansion. currently its a little difficult because you have to find a way to get outside the rail road tracks of spend the money to move them back a bit, however you couldn't just demo a resort to expand the park, limiting any possible expansion

    what I really think Disney did a great job on was with the placement of hollywood studios and the resorts in between (except for the swan and dolphin which is an eyesore). if you take the time to walk from one park to the other its one of the nicest areas you don't need to pay for to enjoy. that whole boardwalk area is very well themed and the three surrounding deluxe resorts all tie in seamlessly together.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    maybe have every park revolve around the Seven Seas Lagoon, with the monorail stopping at each park. And then the hotels would radiate further from the central monorail loop.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    But would it have made more sense for ALL STAR MOVIES to be an extension of the Studios than, for example, the BOARDWALK as an extension of Epcot's World Showcase?

    I like how the Grand Californian fits in with DCA, and Animal Kingdom Lodge with AK. Many of the hotel themes match some of the parks' themes. Frontierland/Wilderness Lodge, Tomorrowland/Contemporary, Caribbean Beach Resort and Coronado Springs fit with Adventureland, the Grand Floridian would fit nicely at the entrance to Main Street...

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by TylerDurden View Post
    maybe have every park revolve around the Seven Seas Lagoon, with the monorail stopping at each park. And then the hotels would radiate further from the central monorail loop.
    Or keep the resort hotels along the lake and push the parks back behind their flagship hotels.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Even though the hotels and parks are in different areas, Disneyland Paris' layout works because you can park hop or walk through Downtown Disney to the hotels, without getting on resort buses to far flung corners of the property. I'm not saying it's the best possible layout, but it's surely superior to the haphazard design of Disney World.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Randy Savage, please chime in.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Well some parts of WDW were master planed others were thrown together to boost attendance or to keep the project moving along (ie: TL wasn't fully planned until 1973, the squashing of WRE in favor of a quickly built POTC clone and the Grand Floridian taking over the site of the Asian Resort). Honestly I like the fact the parks are far apart, even though it's grown really oddly, it gives a sense of buildup. I always get chills in my spine seeing the top of SSE sticking out above the treeline.
    If I could redesign the place thought, I'd built it more all towards the middle of the property in a sort of circle (apart from the resorts) with a long transit line connecting all of them.

  11. #11

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    DGC is right next to DCA because land availability demanded it. Otherwise I think you'd see it as far away from DCA as Disneyland Hotel is from Disneyland's entrance gates.

    I think Disney has made far more money putting its flagship resorts around a pristine lake while maintaining the view of Cinderella Castle from all around that lake than they would by bordering MK with those same resorts (i.e. putting Poly right behind Adventureland). Having them all out there with the lake, trees, and iconic monorail connecting them absolutely lead to more success than there would be otherwise.

    As for the rest of the resorts...I think here you have to remember that not everyone who goes to WDW is taking their kids to the theme parks and needs a place to sleep. Some people, I'd argue more than is conventionally believed, go to a place like Saratoga Springs, Port Orleans, Old Key West, etc as a hotel resort getaway that's somewhat isolated. They are very effective in that regard.

    "Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom." -- James 3:13

  12. #12

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Walt Disney World was largely not developed as a theme park resort so much as it was just developed as a real estate development. Placing is not based on maximizing land use or artistry, but price points and ease of exploitation. EPCOT/Phase I aimed for a semi-urban form, but like the country around it suburban sprawl was easier and cheaper.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    Quote Originally Posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
    And what would you do differently if you could pick everything up and put it back down on the ground again?
    Fun thread. I have a lot of thoughts, and the overall change would be drastic. I may try to draft something up, but that will take time...

    In short, I'd pick a lot up and not put a lot of it back down (i.e., gone would be all the Value resorts, all the Official Hotels at DTD, the town of Celebration, the speedway, some of the golf courses, etc.). WDW would be much less developed than it is today in order to preserve its uniqueness (the above would all go back to woods and wetlands) as opposed to suburban sprawl as typified by Orlando. While the asset of Disneyland is the proximity and convenience of being able to walk everywhere, the size of WDW is/was its asset, because, if planned well and not over-built, it can and should feel like a Place Apart.

    In this imaginary scheme, there would be five Resort Areas (MK, EPCOT, Studios, AK and DTD), each with its own themed resorts, recreation and water park (some shared). A greatly expanded monorail system (maybe powered by a clean-energy plant as a nod to Walt's utopian vision) would mean any place on property could be reached via one or fewer monorail transfers (e.g Grand Floridian to TTC North, then transfer to the AK, DHS, or EPCOT-DTD Lines) or an alternative, unique method of transport.

    Another "Seven Seas Lagoon" or larger-sized lake would go in south of EPCOT with hotels such as the Boardwalk and Y&B more spread out upon it. Maybe a Parisian hotel on the outside of International Gateway (as you mentioned it continues the theme) and a Xanadu (Hearst Castle-inspired) hotel near the Studios (Studios would be moved to where the PopCentury/AoA now sits and the nearby Waldorf and Bonnet Greek Resorts would be acquired and removed). Many WDW hotels would have special access (via boat or foot) to their home parks (e.g. AK Lodge to AK via "River boat to Harambe"). And the much faster, better Seven Seas Lagoon-style launches would replace the loud, fuming brain-jarring Friendships on the new, deeper lake.

  14. #14

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    The bus system. Once I step onto a bus, I feel like I'm riding a city bus like I did as a kid. The buses totally take me out of the experience that is WDW, which is why I rent a car.

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    Re: The layout of Walt Disney World

    I think the magic kingdom resort area is fantastic and hasn't been beaten. The whole area was designed with no need for bus or car travel once you'd arrived only monorails and various boats. I know some people don't like getting across the seven seas lagoon but I think it does help to make you feel you're entering a magical place.

    As for the rest of the resort I think it's a shame that there wasn't as much of an integrated plan so now there are fleets of buses all over the place, hotels isolated on their own & places like DHS which are hemmed in and unable to expand. My personal biggest beef is the way some places like the fantasia mini golf have no transport at all and are complicated to get to unless you drive.

    If I was redesigning I'd have a much tighter master plan. I wouldn't put hotels around the parks (can be intrusive & stops park expansion) but I would integrate some hotels at the park entrances like in Paris and Tokyo where a theme fits & I love the westcot idea of integrating hotels with world showcase maybe like Randy Savage describes above but at more places than France.

    I would rearrange the parks and DTD so that they could be connected by a resort wide monorail. Each park monorail station would connect to a wedway or PRT hub which connects to the resorts nearby and other activities. No one should have to drive or take a bus on the property to get anywhere.

    Hotels would be highly themed and more exotic than the mostly American themed resorts of today - the original Thai, Persian and Venetian themes would be joined by others such as Japanese, French, Indian to make a very exotic environment. Value hotels would follow the same themes but have less facilities as in Paris (just because someone has less money doesn't mean they have less taste). All hotels would be walkable to other hotels, parks or facilities to create shopping dining resort areas which are interconnected by monorail.

    I'd also reinstate some of the adult entertainment which has been lost. The top of the world lounge would reopen along with some of the pleasure island style venues which I'd scatter in the different resort areas. I'd also add some theatre entertainment either through hotel showrooms or venues at the entertainment centres. These venues could be mixed use like the old Polynesian luau shows and I regularly change the shows rather than have extended runs.

    Sorry for the length of post but I once I started I had a Pringles moment and couldn't stop!!!

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