BREAKING: Design Firm and Construction Manager Selected For New Resort on River Country Site

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Several sources are reporting that Disney has selected a design firm and construction management company for the rumored resort being planned for the abandoned River Country site on the shore of Bay Lake next to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

The design firm Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (now known as WATG) has reportedly been selected as the lead designer for the resort, and Balfour Beatty will be the construction manager for the project.

WATG is probably most well known in the US for the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, and has also designed the Grand Floridian Resort at WDW. Balfour Beatty is locally known for the recently-completed Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando, and is currently constructing the new tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

The resort is rumored to cost $350 million to build, not including the major site prep work that needs to happen in order to turn River Country from a waterpark into a hotel. The site prep work will utilize the 30-acre “Project 89” site for stockpiling earthwork that we told you about last month.

It is expected that this resort will have around 300 DVC rooms (2-bedroom equivalent units, which can be separated into 1-bedroom units and studios), plus another 400 standard hotel rooms. The hotel will not open for several years, well after the Riviera Resort, the Coronado Springs tower, and the Star Wars Hotel have opened.


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About the author

Jason Diffendal

Jason has been a lifelong fan of the Disney parks since his first visit at age 2. His biennial pilgrimages during his childhood accelerated into semi-annual visits by the year 2000, when he also Joined the Disney Vacation Club. Luckily, Jason’s bride-to-be was also a Disney fan, which allowed his infatuation with the Disney parks to continue, and ultimately culminated in their wedding at Disney's Wedding Pavilion in September 2003. Early in 2007, Jason began his involvement with the planning for what became Celebration 25, the unofficial fan gathering to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Epcot®. Soon thereafter, Jason met Tom Corless at a pin trading meet in New Jersey, and became part of the WDW News Today podcast starting with Episode 17. Jason has been involved with the WDWNT Network ever since, and can't seem to escape no matter how hard he tries.
Contact Jason at [email protected]


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  • This is exciting and a little disappointing. We never stayed in the campgrounds, but we would always go over at least once for dinner at the Hoop Dee Doo. It was always a wonderful change of pace from the other hotels and the parks. Very peaceful with no crowds. I hope this new hotel doesn’t ruin that bit of charm and peacefulness this area now has.

      • Well I don’t think any of the resorts are “loud”. However, 700 rooms means a LOT of extra people in Fort Wilderness. That is certainly going to cause some extra crowds.

  • Very disappointing. They need more attractions. Should have made this a renewed park. What WDW doesn’t need is more hotel rooms. They need more quality. More to do.

      • I think what CJ is saying is that WDW doesn’t need more Hotels, which increases demand for said “things to do”, when one could argue Disney has long achieved critical mass with demand way outweighing supply…

        Unless they are going to increase supply with one or even two new parks, so as to not overload the parks even more than they already are, more hotels might not be a good thing. With each new resort, WDW is proving that demand/volume continues to grow exponentially while their park’s footprints have not kept pace…

        I’m with CJ on this one, as most of their parks are jammed packed most of the time, especially Magic Kingdom! Rather than build more hotels build more parks…

        Even with the ever increasing costs of visiting WDW, Disney has not managed it’s supply and demand well at all!

        It’s long been a people bomb, and with the increased capacity of the resorts, it’s only going to get worse.

      • Yea. Stand in long lines to buy overpriced cheap toys, buy food that while I don’t mind a $30 hamburger, it should be better quality than the 99 cent one at McDonalds..and it’s worse. Staffing cut more and more every month at WDW. Disney has problems. Greed. No concern for guest experience. They DO NOT need more hotel rooms for what little space they have, they’ve tripled hotel rooms on property in the last decade, they haven’t increased park space at all.

    • Avatar is still fairly new, Toy Story additions, TRON on it’s way……are you expecting a new attractions every month?

      • Toy Story additions and Star Wars still actually puts the park below the total number of attractions that it had a decade ago. This started two decades ago at the MK with the then WDW President Judson Green, who did addition by subtraction. The bottom line is that capacity has not increased and in some cases (such as Epcot and The Studios), it’s been lowered all while the pricing has exploded.

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