Disney Sets Up Plans and Contractors for Former River Country Area Hotel


Plans and Contractors are being put in place for Disney’s ongoing Project 89, which will add yet another hotel to the Walt Disney World Resort roster. GrowthSpotter has reported on contracts between Disney and WATG, who will head up the resort’s design, and Balfour Beatty, the contractor who won the competitive bid for the project.

The information comes from industry insiders with knowledge of the contracts, according to GrowthSpotter, who also reached out to the companies involved. While the two contracted companies did not respond, a Disney spokesperson replied, “At any given time we have numerous projects in varied stages of development across the (Walt Disney World) resort.”

Project 89 has had two major permits filed up to this point. The first was filed back in March, and involved testing subsurface soils at the former site of the long-closed River Country water park. River Country opened in 1976 and was operational for 25 years; the property has gone undeveloped since its 2001 closure. The second permit, filed in early May, created a stockpile area for the project near Disney’s STOLport, Walt Disney World’s inactive private airfield.

Plans for the resort, which will occupy the old River Country property, currently include 1,340 bays, or standard-size rooms. 300 “Equivalency Units” would be on site for Disney Vacation Clubmembers; those units could absorb as much as 940 bays, depending on suite size and number of adjoining rooms.

Estimates for construction costs total approximately $350 million, with total development costs to Disney being significantly higher.

WATG already has significant history working with Disney; they designed Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa — returning later to design the convention center and wedding pavilion — and have designed Disney hotels for the company’s Paris, Tokyo, and Hong Kong resorts as well.

Notable Orlando theme park area construction projects by Balfour Beatty include “The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, The Hyatt Regency Orlando expansion (of the former Peabody), Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, Cabana Bay Resort at Universal, Walt Disney World’s Avatar attraction at Animal Kingdom, and more than 24,000 hotel rooms and vacation club units at Disney.”

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