Florida has granted Walt Disney World a 5-year extension on a permit related to Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge, a Disney Vacation Club resort that was thought canceled amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
STOLport Site Permit
In May 2018, Disney filed a permit for the “STOLport Site,” near the former Walt Disney World Airport — also known as the Lake Buena Vista STOLport (Short Take Off and Landing), as a stockpile location. The new resort wouldn’t actually be constructed on the STOLport site, but it would act as a staging ground.
This permit was set to expire in May 2023, but Walt Disney Imagineering filed to extend it this summer. The state has now granted this extension, so the permit will not expire until May 31, 2028.
This doesn’t necessarily mean construction is going to resume on Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge. Disney could be using the site for another construction project, namely cabin construction at the adjacent Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. Still, extending the permit does leave the door open for Reflections to be revived.
Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge 2018 Announcement
After rumors swirled of a “Disney Discovery Lodge,” Bob Chapek announced Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge at Destination D in 2018. The nature-inspired Disney Vacation Club resort was to be built on the former site of Disney’s long-closed River Country water park, on the shore of Bay Lake near Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. It would have had more than 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas.
Terri Schultz, who was Senior Vice President and General Manager of Disney Vacation Club at the time, said in a statement: “This resort experience will be a celebration of Walt Disney’s lifelong love and respect for nature, with some fun and even surprising accommodation types that families will find irresistible. It will give our members and guests yet another opportunity to stay in close proximity to all the newest attractions and experiences in our theme parks, and with the flexibility, value and world-class service families expect from Disney.”
Disney began demolishing River Country in early 2019 and released several pieces of Reflections concept art that summer:
- CONCEPT ART: First Look at Resort Lobby and Pocahontas Statue at Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge
- CONCEPT ART: First Look at Quick Service Restaurant, Grab & Go Market at Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge
- CONCEPT ART: First Look at Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge Hotel Rooms Featuring Bambi, Brother Bear, Fox and the Hound, Pocahontas, and More; Room Types Revealed
At D23 Expo 2019, more details about the resort were released, including a look a “Princess and the Frog” restaurant.
We tracked demolition and construction into early 2020, when Walt Disney World Resort shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, behind-the-scenes work continued as Disney filed permits for restaurants, restrooms, transportation structures, and more. We checked on construction again when Walt Disney World Resort reopened in June 2020, but there has been no progress since then.
Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge was originally scheduled to open in 2022, but that deadline obviously came and went. Disney hasn’t made a peep about the resort since.
Rumors began circulating that the project was indefinitely delayed or canceled entirely. In September 2020, Disney filed a “general construction” permit for the area, followed by a permit for temporary cast parking a month later. These both seemed to indicate work on Reflections could resume. But in April 2021, Walt Disney Imagineering filed a permit to “remove office trailers from property” at multiple addresses connected to construction, strong evidence for the project’s cancelation.
While it seems Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge is dead, it still has permits open until November 2024 (separate from the STOLport permit). If Disney wanted to complete the project, they would need to extend those permits, but they have some time to decide.