Back in 2007, Disney announced that it would take a 450-acre section in the westernmost part of property (around the intersection of Toll Road 429 and Western Way) and sell it to developers to build it into a master-planned lodging, dining, and retail location. There was a flurry of application for permits, concept art produced, and a lot of media buzz.
After the initial surge of interest, the project seemed to disappear off of the radar. Every few years, there would be a half-hearted attempt at a press release to stir up interest in the project, but little site prep was ever done.
All that may be about to change. In May 2014, a permit was filed for and approved with the South Florida Water Management District that shows a site plan for Flamingo Crossings.
According to the permit filing, Phase I of Flamingo Crossings would involve 130.49 acres of “tourist-commercial development”, which would include “2 hotels and associated site amenities”.
On October 2, 2014, the Orlando Sentinel and other sources reported that groundbreaking on this project would begin on October 16, 2014. The two hotels that will be part of phase one are both Marriott brand – TownePlace Suites (an extended-stay brand) and SpringHill Suites. Both are slated to open in January 2016 with a total of 500 suites between the two hotels.
With the announcement of Marriott’s involvement in the project and an actual groundbreaking date set, it is likely that this project will move forward. However, it is easy to express some skepticism about this project. With its remote location (beyond Animal Kingdom in an area that is largely undeveloped), and its standard hotel theming shown in the concept art from the Orlando Sentinel (shown here), it would appear to be just another hotel in a region saturated with hotel options. The current site plan seems to show very little in the way of dining and retail options to encourage people to flock to this site.
So what’s the game plan for this property? Literally, it is a game plan.
The main thrust of this property will be to encourage people participating in events at Disney’s Wide World of Sports to stay there, especially in the extended-stay suites that will be far less expensive than a DVC suite. From the site plan, it is pretty easy to see that the swimming pool is designed to look like football uprights. There is also a large basketball court and gymnasium on the site plan. There also appears to be bus parking on site – something that is woefully lacking from the All Star resorts.
For guests traveling to Walt Disney World for the sole purpose of participating in events at Wide World of Sports, this may provide a less expensive alternative to staying on property.
Yedla Management Company, which will run the hotels, issued a press release highlighting the offerings of the hotels:
The SpringHill Suites Orlando—South At Flamingo Crossings will have 248 suites while the TownePlace Suites Orlando—South At Flamingo Crossings will have 250 suites and studios with full kitchen appliances. Both hotels will have access on site to 1500 square feet of meeting and event space (including catering services), a Starbucks retail outlet, fitness and business centers, a 24-hour self-service market, pool bar and grill, and team sports practice fields.
Is this, plus the potential of a comparable or lower price point, enough to draw groups away from the All Star resorts? Marriott seems to think so, and is certainly willing to take steps forward to the development of Flamingo Crossing. Only time will tell whether Marriott will hit a home run or strike out on this costly new development.