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Disney World Refurb News, Speculation, and Updates

By Dave Shute


“We also have other kinds of expansion opportunities, like hotels… where not only do we have the property but we’ve seen such high occupancy rates in Orlando … that we believe that it would be smart for us to build more hotels out.” Bob Iger, Q4 2016 Earnings Call.

Disney World made some announcements last week about its Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach resorts.

These, coupled with some other Caribbean Beach rumors, and continuing interest in the Wilderness Lodge refurb, made me think it’s time for a brief refurb update.


Disney announced an expansion at Coronado Springs that will add rooms, dining, and fireworks views

“The expansion at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will include a new 15-story tower that will add 500 rooms, featuring suites and concierge level services. The resort will also refurbish its current resort rooms and transform its landscape with floating gardens and an island oasis that connects the resort through a series of bridges.”

“The new tower overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort’s centerpiece lake, will allow guests to experience something truly unique, rooftop dining with panoramic views of popular nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks.”

The new building will be in the area that until recently was Cabana 9b—the “business class” part of Coronado Springs (Coronado Springs is the only convention resort among the moderates, and so has always had more amenities than the other moderates).

Buzz, author of an unofficial Coronado Springs website, has also predicted that the Coronado Springs lobby will shift to the new building. My guess is that the new building will likely gain a bus stop as well.

Demolition work has already started—this shot is from my visit in early March.

Between demolition and construction noise, my previously-recommended best buildings at Coronado Springs, 9a and 8b, are probably no longer the best choices. 8a will be the best choice until the construction noise settles down.

The new rooms and amenities in a compact footprint will make Coronado Springs more attractive to the convention market. I expect the “regular” new rooms to be priced with at least the 40-50% premium over standard view Coronado Springs rooms that 9B business class rooms used to show.

Also over the next year or two the rest of the Coronado Springs rooms in the Casitas, Ranchos and Cabanas areas will see a refurb, which began in January. Refurbed rooms in the current buildings will have a simpler, cleaner look, and have the two sinks common at the other moderates rather than the one sink found in the current CSR rooms. Concept photos for this refurb are here.

This room refurb will happen building by building and will not be disruptive the way the new tower will be.


The same Disney announcement had this to say about Caribbean Beach:

“Also during this exciting time, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will be reimagined with new additions to the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.”

This announcement comes on top of recent rumors, based on permits, that

  • The Caribbean Beach resort footprint will also see a new higher-rise tower, in the current Barbados area
  • That this new tower might be a new Disney Vacation property
  • And that a new gondola system might be built that would interconnect Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Caribbean Beach (and for all I know, Coronado Springs, although the permit rumors have not included that last point).

Focusing for the moment on what Disney said, note its last sentence: “This centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.” (Emphasis added.)

If you know Caribbean Beach, you already know that all services here are already “centralized” except the check-in building, the Custom House.

So is that what is going on here? Dining and retail are being moved to the waterfront to create a footprint so that the spaces where they currently are can be turned over to a check in area? If so, then that would get rid of one of the major issues with Caribbean Beach right now—the distance of the check in area from every other part of Caribbean Beach.

On the other rumors I am more agnostic.

  • Certainly the old Barbados footprint and, if I am right, the Custom House footprint could be carved off into a new DVC property—especially if the gondola rumor is real (although speculation that the gondolas will also run to Pop and AofA suggests no necessary tie to exclusive DVC amenities).
  • However, much of the DVC-here speculation came from no one being able to imagine that CB would get a tower. Now that Coronado Springs is getting a tower, I think a little more skepticism is in order here.

Interestingly, the clearest evidence of DVC on part of the old Caribbean Beach footprint would be Disney not talking about it, as there are regulations that apply to premature marketing of timeshares that don’t apply to straight hotel rooms. So if unexplained accommodations buildings start emerging, perhaps the less we hear the more we will know.

Regardless, expect construction and noise along the waterfront in Old Port Royale, which likely will make the rooms in the nearer part of Martinique and Trinidad North a little less comfortable to stay in, because of noise.

For more on the Caribbean Beach refurb, see this.


The Wilderness Lodge refurb that’s been going on for a while now is coming to a close. Booking the new rooms here begins in March for visits beginning July 17.

The new counter service, between the pool and beach, Geyser Point, is open—I’ll check it out in my March visit

Strong progress is being made on the replacement of the second pool by the current Villas—in this shot from my late January visit, you can see its concrete form is done:

It’s hard to tell how much progress is being made in the rooms that are being converted to DVC villas and studios.

Update 3/6: This Wilderness Lodge refurb should be complete by mid-July.

It looks to me—and I have no inside knowledge here, but am rather guessing based on the pace of change—that the amenities could all be done by the summer, but I have no idea when the new rooms will be available, in what order they will open, or when the construction walls in the upper reaches of the lobby will come down. For most of this, though, mid-2017 is probably a better bet than the end of 2017. 


Pop Century  kicked off is expected to kick off a room refurb in March 6.

The current two full bed rooms will be replaced with rooms with one queen and one full murphy bed that is a table when not deployed, similar to the ones in the suites at Art of Animation (above).

The Yacht Club room refurb is complete on the 5th floor, and in progress on the 4th floor. It should be done by the end of the year.

The room refurb at the Dolphin is on hiatus until the summer, I was told, when refurbs will kick off in the east (closer to Epcot) side.

I stayed in a refurbed room here in my January visit, and will do a full report soon. The main difference is the simplified bath, above.

The Kidani Village refurb is complete.

I’d stayed in a refurbed Studio in 2016, and stayed in a refurbed One Bedroom in January. A full report will come out soon, but changes are minor.

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1 Amanda { 02.19.17 at 7:39 pm }

Is there any speculation as to how long the refurb will take at POP? Thank you!!

2 Chantel { 02.20.17 at 8:49 am }

Do you recommend avoiding Coronado Springs during the construction?

3 Dave { 02.21.17 at 6:28 am }

Chantel, it depends on what you are looking for from a moderate. If the extra amenities/wider dining options/theming/pool are what draw you to CSR, then no, as those won’t chnage during construction. Otherwise the potential for daytime noise and some visual blight would suggest one of the Port Orleans options.

4 Chantel { 02.21.17 at 11:37 am }

Thanks for your reply! We are going in August so a nice pool is at the top of our wishlist, I also like that Coronado has quick service food at the pool so we can avoid the main building if we want. As long as construction doesn’t interfere with the main pool we should be ok.

5 Steve { 02.23.17 at 11:03 am }

I loved 9B. 🙁

The semi concierge there was nice.

6 melissa bottorff { 02.27.17 at 8:41 pm }

we are supposed to stay at CBR in september. will the pool still be available?

7 Dave { 02.28.17 at 11:36 am }

Yes, Melissa.

8 kathy russo { 04.06.17 at 10:12 pm }

can you please tell me what buildings will be refurbished by may24 at Coronado springs Trying to request a room near dig pool not to far from bus or food .i am mobility challenged and my daughter has heart issues and we have 1, 7 year old .Keep reading horror stories of how far everything is . does pool really close at 8 pm we bought package at very end of spring sale and it was slim pickings never stayed here before many thanks

9 Dave { 04.07.17 at 10:45 am }

Kathy, 7a will be done by then. 8a may be done.

10 Dan { 05.23.17 at 10:46 pm }

Are the Casitas a good option to avoid construction noise and blight during a mid July 2017 trip? Thanks.

11 Dave { 05.24.17 at 8:58 am }

Dan, yes I think so…

12 David { 05.31.17 at 3:32 pm }

We arrive at CSR on 25 June 17. Mine is a military family and WDW has taken pretty good care of us on previous trips. We usually stay at SOG but wanted the DDP so this is first stay in a Resort. With 9B being gone, do you know which will be the best building to request at that time? Thanks for your input.

13 Dave { 06.01.17 at 8:54 am }

David, it varies a bit depending how you plan to use the resort.

–If you are just sleeping there, and spending most of your time in the parks, then pick based on bus stops. As you can see from the map, a couple of buildings are closer to bus stops than others–e.g. 7a in the Ranchos and 8b in the Cabanas

–If you plan to dine a lot in the resort, pick one of the low-numbered Casitas

–If you plan to be in the pool a lot, pick 6a or 7b in the Ranchos or 8a (which may still be being refurbed) in the Cabanas

–If you are looking for all of the above, then Cabanas 8b is the best choice

Map of Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

14 Katie { 09.21.17 at 1:33 pm }

Hi! Do you know which buildings have completed the renovations?

15 Dave { 09.22.17 at 2:20 pm }

Katie, which resort?

16 Ana { 09.28.17 at 4:24 pm }

Hello Dave!
Thanks to your updates I was able to get a new room at the POP century this past August! and I have to say they are AMAZING!
For our next stay we are looking at Yatch Club… it’s been on my bucketlist for a while and I’m ready to splurge. Do you have any updates about the new rooms? what category would I need to book to up my changes of getting a new room. (Except Club Level, of course! Ready to splurge but not Club level splurge)

17 Dave { 09.29.17 at 8:51 am }

Hi Ana, so glad to have been able to help!!

Reports are that the refurb is complete. I can’t personally confirm that, though. I’ll be staying there in November, so will know for sure then! The refurb started on the highest floor and made its way down floor by floor, so if you are going before I can confirm, pick “higher floor.”

18 Donna Marshall { 10.21.18 at 3:39 pm }

what will the construction be like october 2019. Will there still be a pool

19 Dave { 10.22.18 at 6:19 am }

Donna, what hotel are you inquiring about?

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