Saturday, September 20, 2014

PI Update: Construction Advances

Construction pushes forward on Pleasure Island so let's jump around and give you this update featuring our exclusive SkyCam photos.  We'll begin here at the location where The Hangar will be built out into Village Lake. We're told this will be an aviation-themed bar with some food.
This is a very small plot of land so it's necessary to come out over the lake to fit it into the available space.
Adjacent to this is the new outdoor entertainment amphitheater where concept art shows guests enjoying musical acts down on the stage below.
Construction advances on The Boat House Restaurant.  Not sure if that will be the final name of the place.  The old name "Mahogany Bay Classic Old Boats and Great Food Restaurant" was more imaginative but the owner is registered as "The Boathouse Orlando LLC."
Closeup of The Boathouse.
Ground view of Boathouse construction.
Unspecified retail space across from the amphitheater.
More unspecified retail in the former service court of Raglan Road.
At the bottom, more unspecified retail in that service court facing the opposite way.
Moving over to West End Plaza / Celebration Plaza, what we were told awhile back was going to be a steak house restaurant.
This is all-new construction roughly where Laffers Cantina used to stand across from Adventurers Club.
This is where that railroad locomotive turntable-looking thing is going in.
Major pavement demolition in front of Adventurers Club.  Get the Colonel a gin & tonic and one for me too!
It still looks like a locomotive turntable but right now thousands of brick pavers are being added to it as part of the transformation.
Moving down Hill Street, new unspecified retail where Curl / Superstar Studios used to stand and in front of 8TRAX.
Ground view of the new construction in front of 8TRAX (near) and where Curl used to be (background).
At The Hub, side view of unspecified retail where PI Live Bar used to stand next to Mannequins.
And the front view of same, in the area where the Apricot Lane popup store used to stand. (Formerly Orlando Harley-Davidson, formerly Changing Attitudes.)
And we'll close this journey with an air view of that unspecified retail construction besides Mannequins.  Have a great weekend!


Brad said...

Anybody notice that the air conditioners that stood atop Mannequins have been removed per these recent SkyCam photos? Just a casual observation.

Ace said...

Oh, the potential for Disney to lose money! Will there really be throngs of people showing up for more "shopping and dining?" For Disney's sake, let's hope so. I'm not sure at this point that I would detour from other places around WDW just to go to what is really becoming a big Disney shopping mall. Isn't that what all this stuff is really turning into? Just a big Disney shopping mall with restaurants? So far I haven't heard of any real whiz-bang features to draw me in there. Sure, I'll check it out. And I'm sure it will be "nice." But it's not yet turning into what I've been hoping for this to become - it should become a big deal destination for daytime and nighttime visits. We need something to compete with staying later in the parks, or to compete with dining in the parks or on the many great hotel properties. After all, the resort properties offer us quite a bit of respectable after-park relaxation and dining. (There's already plenty of shopping in the parks, so I'm not seeing that we need more.) Plus, over the past several "dead" years, many of us have discovered quite a bit of other options off Disney property.

I think one of the big things to watch for at The Springs is if it will draw in the locals. If Disney hooks the locals, then they will likely also hook the non-local guests. In any case, Disney will need hordes of people to make the shopping and dining acceptably profitable. How else could you justify building so many new shops and restaurants? The tenants, along with Disney, all need a good return on their investments, and I think that's the tough long-term nut to crack. The opening will be big and splashy and well-attended, but how long will it last?

I really want this to succeed, and if you're going to trash all the previous great nightlife, you will hopefully also make it worthwhile and enjoyable for us in some other BIG ways. Otherwise you will lose momentum in the same way that shutting down PI nightlife caused the Island to stall.

It's still early for intense speculation, and I know that not much detail has been announced or released, so I'm very hopeful. I know that Disney has tremendous capabilities. I hope we all end up with breathtaking new experiences which we will judge worth visiting and which is also truly enjoyable. Only then will we see good measures of success at The Springs.

Anonymous said...

You say let's hope for Disney's sake that DS does well but they brought this on themselves. All they had to do was update some of the themes of the nightclubs and add an outdoor show like World of Color and an outdoor dj along with a few new venues and that would have been the right combination. But all signs indicate they stubbornly persist in ruining their best asset; Mannequins Dance Palace. I was in CityWalk Hollywood last month and it was PACKED with partygoers. I overheard someone say "This is so much more crowded than Downtown Disney." (Anaheim, where they have no clubs other than House of Blues. Certainly no Disney ran clubs.) I don't think they had shopping at the top of their list and how much are they going to eat? Not much that wasn't a liquid diet. Could it be that the current management has grown old and out of touch with young people? I believe that to be the case.

Ace said...

Good points. I think Disney is committed to NOT pursuing "adult" entertainment options and once again demonstrating their commitment to "family" venues and activities. They seem to have fully embraced a fear of the "bad" element that PI sometimes attracted at night and Disney seems to be avoiding bad press and bad publicity. When those sorts of things happen at Universal, they aren't burdened with the same press attention. It's as if the media expects that sort of thing at Universal, but not at Disney, so Disney is held to a different standard and crucified in the media when anything non-family-friendly happens and leaks out. So it may not be that current management has grown "old" but that they are very risk averse and making management choices which reflect that. We will have to see how this all plays out once the venue opens. I'm sure it will be successful in the daytime, but at night may be a completely different story. If they're doing what I think they would do well with, then I think they will have concentrated the most-likely-to-succeed nighttime venues into a single area so that they can actually have some nightlife and perhaps close off the "dead-at-night" areas of The Springs. But that's pure speculation on my part. I do want it to be successful, and I'm optimistic. It's gonna be great fun to see how it all unfolds and how it works. I'm sure there will be the usual post-opening adjustments. Until I see it in operation, though, it's just going to be a big Disney shopping mall just like the one down the street from where I live -- the mall closes down at night but the dining establishments remain open.

Anonymous said...

Ace, some of what you're saying makes sense but Disney has never been a company to let a little negative publicity affect profits. Case in point, Gay Days. Every year year there are protests by religious groups yet every year Gay Days events are held. They are not "officially sanctioned" by Disney but the are coordinated by Disney. I know for sure because I am friends with the producers of the party events and they are friends with the president of WDW. These events are HIGHLY profitable for Disney so that just leads me to believe that this whole "bad crowd element" theory doesn't hold water. The bottom line is the clubs must not have been profitable or not profitable enough and the management at the time did not have the wherewithal to make them more profitable or figured more shopping and dining must be the answer. Since that time Meg Crofton has been moved and replaced by the new president of WDW and a new manager for DTD has been brought in. All good things. However
the newbies are still sticking with the old plan. Unfortunately all this still leads me to conclude that even the imagineers are aging and losing their touch with young people and the 21-40ish aged crowd that goes to DTD to have an adult time. So this is where we come back to the problem of what Michael Eisner had the vision to solve in the first place. People leaving Disney property for dining and nightlife. Well the dining thing remains solved as there are still plenty of restaurants at DTD but it's going to be over saturated because now many people eat in the parks as they have begun to serve healthier food and have many more food choices than the typical burger and fries that were available when DTD was first opened. Just look at Epcot. It's a world of upscale dining.
So let's face it, Downtown Disney is a tourist magnet because of all the lights and promise of night time entertainment. For the last 6 years that has been a lie as they advertise nightlife still to this day. While i do not want to see Disney Springs turn into a teenage hang out with go carts a bungie jumping, God forbid, I do think they need to offer true nightlife and really reconsider turning Mannequins into a restaurant. History has proved closing the clubs to be a mistake. Let's hope that Disney still has the oomph that it is going to take to make this the "night time shopping, dining and entertainment venue second to none" that they claim it will be. Cause second to none would include CityWalk and their clubs. Without Mannequins, G'luck with that, Disney! I'm just sayin.

Ace said...

Anonymous, you made many good points, I appreciate the detail in your responses. I would like to point out that - my opinion - Gay Days does not really seem to be a "negative" in the eyes of the media, Disney, or in the eyes of much of the public. In fact, Disney is very proud of their diversity programs. And when religious groups protest Disney's diversity, the general public and Disney seem to hold the opinion that Disney is right and that the religious folks are the ones who are out of touch with "how things should be." But I get your point, I just don't see Disney as being afraid of their stance on that event. You're right, they make a boatload of cash from that market segment.

You and I share many of the same hopes for Springs and for Disney. Let's hope that things do improve for all of us nightlife fans. It may take a number of years (as Disney usually does) for them to straighten out and tweak a new development. It may, unfortunately, take a total of 10 or 15 years for nostalgia (or competitive pressure) to kick in and cause clubs and really good nightlife to return to Downtown Disney. I hope that's not how it's going to play out, but it would not surprise me. And there are young Imagineers who are going to come up through the ranks who may have quite a positive influence where today's Imagineers seem to be stuck in a pretty low-energy and low-creativity rut. So there is hope with an influx of fresh talent and with promotions and career advances causing management changes. There are lots of things to be optimistic about.


Anonymous said...

Ace, it's me again. I have to agree with everything you said. Especially that it may takes long time but missing true nightlife and competition will eventually bring it back to DTD with younger managers.