Hands down, Disney has some of the best resorts around. From the Grand Floridian to the All Star Resorts, no detail is overlooked and no expense is spared to ensure the best accommodations are available to guests staying on property. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, there were only two resorts on property: the Contemporary and the Polynesian Village Resort (Ft. Wilderness was also an option for those that wanted to camp). There were plans to build more ‘Magic Kingdom’ resorts on the monorail line around Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, however, those plans never came to fruition due to the 1973 oil embargo.
Slated for the plot of land where The Grand Floridian Resort and Spa now sits, Disney’s Asian Resort was set to open in 1974 and was inspired by Thailand and its culture. With 600 rooms and 50 suites, this resort also touted a lounge, theme restaurant, dancing, and stage shows. It was also set to have its own monorail station.
The Venetian Resort was designed to be a deluxe resort and themed after Venice, Italy. Plans for the resort included shopping and gondola rides as well as a monorail station. Located between the Contemporary and the Transportation & Ticket Center near the water bridge, the original plans were scrapped, revisited by Michael Eisner in the 90’s, and scrapped again for the Mediterranean Resort. After the land was cleared for the Mediterranean Resort, it was discovered that the area was unstable (former swamp land) and pylons would be required to support the hotel. Due to the escalating costs of the resort, the plans were dropped and trees were replanted.
The Persian Resort was scheduled to be built on Bay Lake, just east of the Magic Kingdom (think behind Space Mountain/Tomorrowland Speedway/Disney Railroad). This Iranian themed resort had plans showing buildings that resembled ancient mosques with domes, shopping, and restaurants in addition to the guest rooms. Rumor has it the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, offered to pay for the construction and operation of the resort, but never happened due to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. This resort was also slated to have a monorail station and a monorail track that went through Tomorrowland.
In the 1990’s as a part of the ‘Disney Decade’, a plan by Disney to expand and develop the parks and resort properties, Fort Wilderness Junction (also known as Buffalo Junction Resort), a 600 room resort was planned. Located between Ft. Wilderness Campground and Wilderness Lodge, this resort was designed to resemble the Boardwalk area, but with an Old West theme. As with the others, the resort was set to have dining, shopping, and entertainment. Land was cleared to begin construction, but in 1992, the project was dropped.
The newest resort, Art of Animation, was originally designed to be the second half of Pop Century Resort, which was set aside after the attacks on September 11, 2001 which resulted in reduced tourism.