As reported in Theme Park Tourist….
By Amanda Kondolojy, Friday, August 26, 2016 05:11
Though attendance at Walt Disney World has been soft thus far in 2016, the resort has quietly been making some preparations for a big attendance boost in the near future – including filing some permits that indicate that interesting infrastructure changes are on the way for the resort.
Though nothing has been formally announced by Disney, based on publicly available permits, it looks like Disney is bracing itself for record numbers of guests in the near future with a number of projects that will bring all new ways for guests to get around the resort, including one that will make getting to Walt Disney World a lot easier for locals…
1. A new entrance is coming to the western edge of Walt Disney World
While the Flamingo Crossings project still hasn’t quite materialized into the retail and hotel destination Disney originally pitched, it looks like there’s still something planned for the western edge of Walt Disney World property. According to recently-filed permits, Disney is planning to extend Western Way to Route 545 Avalon Road with a new four lane road will join the existing Western Way at the current Flamingo Crossings site.
Once this project is completed, Walt Disney World will finally be able to construct a new western gateway to the resort. Though this has been in the works for some time, this project stalled several years ago for unknown reasons. However, it looks like Disney is finally ready to make this new gateway to Walt Disney World a reality, which is great news not only for locals who want to avoid entering the resort via some of the more “touristy” parts of town, but also for traffic in general, which can get quite backed up at the main resort gateways.
2. A new entrance is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well
In addition to the new resort entrance mentioned above, it looks like a new entrance will also be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Permits were filed recently with the South Florida Water Management District for the reconfiguration of Osceola Parkway, which will bring a new interchange to this road that will help funnel guests towards what we’re assuming will be the long-rumored new entrance for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Now while we don’t exactly know where this new entrance will be, land has been cleared across from the construction site that will soon be Star Wars Land, and many believe that this is in preperation for construction on a guest parking structure (the first for a Walt Disney World theme park). If this does indeed turn out to be the case, Disney could essentially flip Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land forming the front of the park, with the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror looming in the back. This would not only help the park redefine its identity, but the current parking lot area (which would now be in the back of the park) could provide considerable space for another, future expansion as well.
While questions remain about where this new entrance will go and how it will continue the transformation of this park, one thing that is definite is this new project will certainly relieve the current pressure on World Drive, which often builds up and causes traffic jams when both the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios close at the same time.
3. An expanded World Drive with flyover ramps will make it easier to enter (or avoid) the Magic Kingdom
Earlier this year Disney also filed permits with the South Florida Water Management District to redevelop World Drive as well. This road currently brings guests past the main entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as the BoardWalk Resort, right on the way to the Magic Kingdom’s Transportation and Ticket Center, and then continues past the Contemporary Resort, tapering off around far side of Fantasyland.
With so many popular destinations on this road, it’s no surprise that congestion is a constant issue on World Drive. However, according to the permits mentioned previously, Disney will be addressing these issues soon by adding a flyover ramp which will allow guests heading for the resort-area hotels to bypass the Magic Kingdom parking plaza altogether. In the opposite direction, another newly-constructed flyover ramp will allow traffic heading from the Contemporary Resort side of World Drive to continue on World Drive beyond the Magic Kingdom parking plaza, directly en route to the BoardWalk Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In addition to the additional route options, Disney will also be widening World Drive on both sides of the street, transforming the two-lane sections into three lanes and the three lane sections into four lanes. It has also been heavily rumored (though not explicitly confirmed by the recently-filed permits) that the parking toll booths at the front of the Magic Kingdom will also be replaced during this extensive roadwork.
Of course, the idea here is to remove the considerable pressure on World Srive, which can seriously jam up during both the Magic Kingdom’s opening and closing, even during slower guest times. And during the holidays, guests that elect to leave the Magic Kingdom after Wishes (and while nearby Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also closing) are often unfortunately treated to a stationary view of the car in front of them for an hour or more while guests rush out of the theme parks.
While Disney has not made any official statements about any of these projects, the fact that all of the above permits have been filed in less than six months indicates that the resort is serious about improving its infrastructure, and is likely still betting big on Star Wars Land. With Disney’s Hollywood Studios getting a new entrance, World Drive being reformatted and a whole new entrance being constructed to facilitate easier entry to the resort at-large (particularly for local visitors), it will be easier than ever to visit Walt Disney World in the coming years. However, with attendance declining, the question remains: will all these new guests actually show up to take advantage of all this new infrastructure? What do you think?
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