While we all look forward to DVC expansions at the Wilderness Lodge and the Caribbean Beach Resort (and perhaps the Contemporary Resort), let’s look back at the story of four Disney Vacation Club resorts that were planned but never came to be.
Disney Vacation Club WEST
The first resort is the one we know the least about. Disney had just opened the Disney Vacation Club resort in 1991 at Walt Disney Resort, and was working on plans for the next DVC resort.
Disney’s plans included both expansion outside of Walt Disney World, as well as expansion within Walt Disney World. Well before they purchased land in Vero Beach for what would become the second DVC resort, Disney was working on plans for a second resort within Walt Disney World, and no, I am not referring to the Boardwalk.
In 1992, Disney developed plans for a project named “Disney Vacation Club West” on a 164-acre site located south of Epcot Drive, east of World Drive, north of Epcot Resort Blvd, and west of Epcot. If you know where the cast member parking lot is for the Yacht & Beach Club resort, you know the general location.
If you can’t imagine where that is, here is a present-day view of that location.
Remember, the first DVC resort was still called the Disney Vacation Club, so the working project name of the Disney Vacation Club West made sense. Of course, we don’t know what DVC would have named the resort.
The resort was designed to be very similar to the first Disney Vacation Club – clusters of buildings with parking directly outside. It’s very much like an Old Key West style resort in the Epcot resort area.
Below is the overall site plan from October 1992.
Ultimately, DVC decided not to proceed with these plans. We don’t know why.
The second resort we’re going to look at was officially announced, unlike the above Disney Vacation Club West resort. In March 1994, Disney announced it had purchased 35 acres south of Newport Beach and north of Laguna Beach, and was looking to buy another 10 to 40 acres.
The acres would be used to build 650 villas, restaurants and shops in a Mediterranean village design.
In February 1995, more details surrounding the planned $250 million dollar Disney Vacation Club resort were released. The 76-acre hillside resort would be designed as an Italian-style Mediterranean village of 650 condominiums where visitors could dine at either of two restaurants, hang out at several tennis courts, volleyball nets, poolside or at a golf course. It would offer sweeping ocean vistas, gondola rides along quiet Venetian-style canals and overnight camping for kids.
The main entrance would feature a six-story “main estate” building flanked by twin 109-foot towers. Designed by Italian architect Aldo Rossi, the earth-tone buildings would have tile roofs and a fake Roman aqueduct that spills into the swimming pool.
However, in February 1997, Disney announced that they had scuttled their plans to build a resort along Orange County’s Newport Coast, and that they would be selling the land.
In January of 1998, Marriott announced plans for a California Coast Vacation Ownership resort located on the former Disney site. In June of 2000, Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas opened its first 55 units, with plans for 595 more, bringing the total up to 650 units.
The third resort was also officially announced. In July of 2001, Disney announced plans to build their largest DVC resort to date. The proposed 600-unit ownership development was slated to occupy a 61-acre site along the award-winning Disney’s Eagle Pines Golf Course at Walt Disney World Resort.
All rooms would feature either a pool, golf course or forest view. Initial plans called for the construction of a main Inn building encompassing a check-in area; accommodations; restaurant/lounge; theme pool with feature slide; retail space; arcade; common living room area and a health club, as well as Villa buildings containing vacation home accommodations. Development would begin that fall with an estimated opening in Spring/Summer 2004.
The theme of the proposed DVC resort would complement and enhance the beautiful setting found at Disney’s Eagle Pines Golf Course. The new resort would be inspired by the architecture of Addison Mizner, a celebrated early 20th century architect who led the renaissance of Florida resort design. The property’s design would reflect a variety of motifs found in indigenous Florida buildings of this era, including Spanish, Moorish, Romanesque and Gothic forms. The atmosphere and elegance found in the coastal communities of southeast Florida (including West Palm Beach and Boca Raton) would be found in the resort’s architecture, ranging from tile roofs to fountains to lush, tropical landscaping.
Commissioned to design the resort was renowned architect Graham Gund, who created the architectural look for such Disney projects as Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Disney’s Vero Beach Resort — another Disney Vacation Club property. Gund designed the resort to take advantage of the pristine setting found at Disney’s Eagle Pines Golf Course while maintaining the integrity of the existing golf course. Guests at the resort would have views of Disney’s Eagle Pines Golf Course but golfers’ view of the property would be buffered, with resort buildings “stepping down” in height as they near the golf holes.
The new resort was scheduled to open in phases, with the first phase consisting of the Inn building and five Villa buildings for a total of 360 units. The Inn and one Villa building were expected to open in Spring/Summer 2004, with the four additional Villa buildings opening throughout the remainder of that year. The final phase of five additional Villa buildings containing 240 units were anticipated to open by Spring/Summer 2005.
However, the impact of the horrible events on 9/11 reduced traffic to Disney World dramatically, and the Eagle Pines plans were scuttled in favor of a make-over of the Disney Institute as Saratoga Springs Resort.
Today, the Four Seasons resort and Golden Oak now sit where Eagle Pines was going to be.
The fourth and final resort we’re going to review was never officially announced by DVC. In September 2011, Disney filed plans for a Fort Wilderness DVC. Several variations of the plan were drawn up, but a multi-story set of interconnected buildings was common.
Below is the site plan dated September 30, 2011 for “Project 2011-2” at Fort Wilderness.
The design firm prepared the video below:
While this plan never came to fruition, they could, however, be revived someday.