We are less than a month away from the beginning of the next stage of Disney Springs. The Town Center “neighborhood” will begin opening stores in phases as of May 15. This is new territory for the entertainment complex formerly known as Downtown Disney: Town Center – and one more parking garage -- is going up in what was a parking lot adjacent to Pleasure Island. Members of the media got a behind-the-walls walk-through Monday afternoon. Here are five first impressions (Sorry, Disney didn’t allow photography or video behind the walls.)
1. I want to say the blue of the (man-made) springs is a blue not found in nature, although Imagineers say such waterways still exist in Florida. It’s just brilliant, almost show-stopping. Expect a lot of foot traffic on the bridge that connects the area between Morimoto Asia and Raglan Road restaurants.
“It’s a combination of materials that you would find in certain bodies of water, say, a pool, but put together in a way that’s never been done before. And sculpted and arranged and utilized to make that beautiful spring-blue color,” said Jeff Abraham, creative director with Walt Disney Imagineering. “It’s almost like a painting.”
2. As part of the turn-of-the-century theming that runs throughout Disney Springs, the horticulture is very, very Florida. Look for palms, oaks and cypress knees along the shore.3. The architecture of Town Center is Mediterranean Revival, popular in coastal towns of the 1920s, said David Hoffman, creative director. (Yikes, the 1920s are almost a century ago. Yikes!) It transitions into the American Craftsman style of the 1930s, reflected in the Marketplace area.4. One of the main entrances will be via the Gateway Building adjacent to the Walt Disney World bus system drop off, near the iconic Disney Springs water tower already in place.I imagine the movement of people to be similar to entering the Magic Kingdom under the railroad station – just more vast and arched. “The whole town just expands in front of you,” Abraham said. The second garage – the “Lime” one – also will lead into Town Center.5. In Town Center, Disney used 15 different shades of white for exterior paint. Fans of ecru can rejoice. This, Imagineers say, fits into the storyline of being a well-worn area, repainted all over the years by different owners – not the relatively spontaneous reality.“It has an instant history to it,” Hoffman said.It’s not a total white-ish-washing. There are pops of color, and variety of surfaces to give it depth. There’s stucco. There are tin roofs. D-Luxe, the Disney burger joint, has a log-cabin look. Of course, it will have a different feel once merchandise and signs are in place. The only signage we saw Monday was for D-Luxe and for Under Armour.