“We are excited that the Cars, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid wings at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will all open earlier than we originally planned, bringing more permanent resort jobs to Central Florida sooner,” said Kevin Myers, vice president of resort operations for Walt Disney World Resort. “Demand for family suites exists in the marketplace today and the new opening dates reflect how optimistic we are about tourism in Central Florida.”
In size and scope, the construction of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is a major project at Walt Disney World Resort and has created up to 800 construction jobs. Once open in 2012, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will also create 750 ongoing resort hotel jobs.
The “topping out” is a special moment that typically occurs in the construction and engineering industry when the highest piece of structure, either steel or concrete, is placed on the building’s frame. The tradition dates back to the Vikings, who would place an evergreen tree on the top of a building to celebrate and bring good luck.
At the construction site for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, a crane helped lift the traditional evergreen to the roof of a building that will soon be part of the Lion King wing of the resort hotel.
During the Walt Disney Imagineering presentation at the Disney D23 Destination D: Walt Disney World event, Imagineer Gary Hoffman provided new insight into the resort’s newest hotel, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, expected to open in stages, beginning May, 2012.
On the site of what was once destined to be the second half of the Pop Century resort, the Legendary Years, the Art of Animation will allow guests to step into the world of their favorite Disney films and come face to face with their favorite characters from The Little Mermaid and The Lion King and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Cars — with some major exceptions.
Already in the land clearing stage, the project is expected to create up to 800 construction jobs. Once open by the end of 2012, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will also create 750 permanent resort hotel jobs, for a total of 1,550 jobs created. Walt Disney World Resort features 24 uniquely themed, Disney owned-and-operated resort hotels with more than 26,000 guest rooms. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will likewise be unique, with themed building exteriors and room interiors that bring to life The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid.
Walt Disney World has added a page for its Disney’s Art of Animation Resort to the official website. The resort, which replaces the original proposed Pop Century: Legendary Years resort, is slated to open in summer of 2012.
According to the site, it will be a value resort that will consist of mostly family suites, as was rumored for Pop Century: Legendary Years after a pilot program at All Star Music. While The Little Mermaid section will consist of 864 ‘sea-inspired’ rooms, The Lion King, Cars and Finding Nemo sections will offer a total of 1,120 family suites, each consisting of: 1 master bedroom; 2 bathrooms; and 3 separate sleeping areas which includes a ‘Inovabed,’ a pull-out bed that transforms from a dining or work table as opposed to a sofa. The suites will sleep up to six.
For those wondering whatever will become of Disney’s Pop Century: The Legendary Years — the proposed second phase of the popular value resort – wonder no more. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the site is now the future home of a brand new resort, Disney’s Art of Animation.
Construction on the second half of the Pop Century resort halted after 9/11 as the travel industry took a huge hit and appeared to keep the resort in limbo since. Some rumors of the structures’ integrity being violated by weather (as well as YouTube videos showing the buildings in disarray) had the buildings eventually being torn-down and re-built should the development go forward while others said construction was simply on hold. One speculation that proved to be true is that the resort will be composed mostly of family suites, following up their roll-out at All Star Music.