Walt Disney World unveiled plans on Thursday for a major expansion of the Downtown Disney shopping destination, which will be renamed Disney Springs to signal its transformation into "a unique destination that will treat guests to significantly more shopping, dining and entertainment amid beautiful open-air promenades, meandering springs and waterfront charm," according to a news release.
Unlike the parks, there is free parking and no admission charge, so the complex has to rely on pizzazz to separate visitors from their dollars.
Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues, resulting in more than 150 establishments.
The destination will include four outdoor neighborhoods interconnected by a flowing spring and lakefront. In addition to a new gateway with a water tower and grand entry, the complex will feature a Town Center with shopping, dining and a promenade and a commercial district called the Landing, with waterfront views. Additionally, it will include the Marketplace with an over-the-water pedestrian causeway and an expanded World of Disney store, and a West Side with entertainment options and "a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below," the release said.
Construction is scheduled to begin in April, with new areas opening in phases. Disney Springs is expected to be complete in 2016.
The shopping destination, which opened in 1975, has been in flux since the nightclub zone Pleasure Island closed in 2008. Downtown Disney encompasses three areas, the original Marketplace, Pleasure Island and the new West Side.
It includes the home of Cirque du Soleil, House of Blues and DisneyQuest, a multistory video game experience.