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Disney World Revamping Downtown into Major Retail Brand Hub

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 20, 2013 03:37 PM

Shopping bags at Disney theme parks are generally overstuffed with Mickey ears, Dumbo stuffed animals and Little Mermaid outfits. Soon, though, those bags—at least the ones at Disney World—may be packed with plenty of non-Disney merchandise.

Disney World’s Downtown Disney is getting a revamp and expansion that is scheduled to be finished in 2016 and will result in a change of name to Disney Springs and a total change of sensibility. It will feature “uniquely Disney venues coupled with high profile third parties” and will mean the end for nightclub spot Pleasure Island, Fox News reports. Instead, Disney Springs will get a makeover that will include “Spanish revival architecture amidst a retail setting with waterfront dining.”

According to Tampa Bay Online, the Disney Springs coming to Orlando, Florida, will be more than twice the size of the current Downtown Disney area and feature 150 restaurants, shops and entertainment areas compared with the 75 that are currently there. The new area is reportedly inspired by central Florida's roots, with the new Town Center "oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area," according to a Disney Parks blog post.

"We want to be able to create these great locations where people have an opportunity to relax and get away from the harried hustle and bustle that sometimes people experience on their vacations," Disney's executive creative director Theron Skees said, Fox News reports. And while they’re resting, maybe they’ll want to pick up an American Girl doll or Dior lipstick. Both of those brands as well as Coca-Cola are rumored to be in talks with Disney to join the expanded Disney Springs retail line-up.

And don’t despair, Disney shoppers. You’ll still be able to find some Mickey ears. The World of Disney store that is currently in Orlando's Downtown Disney, which is already the largest Disney store in the universe, will be expanded.

Disney’s parks have been in expansion and innovation mode. The company recently announced that its newest park, Disney Shanghai, is under construction in China. Disney World is also in the process of testing out its MyMagic+ wristbands that could make things easier for people who don’t feel like carrying tickets and cash around the park (which, of course, will make it easier for the park to make cash as well). It’s the Disney way.

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