Web site says Disney World to develop land on west side

Walt Disney World's plans for its newly opened western entrance may go beyond just bringing in tourist traffic and could include a large new retail and hotel development area on the resort's west side, according to a report Tuesday on a Web site.

Disney is not acknowledging any such plans. And a spokeswoman declined to respond to the report, posted on an independent Web site that features Disney news and discussions. The account details plans for a large retail and hotel zone near the new interchange of State Road 429 and Western Way.

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Prospects for such a project surprise few who follow development at Disney or in southwestern Orange County. The roads and the interchange on Disney's west side are new. The utility lines are installed. And development and steady traffic growth are expected up and down the S.R. 429 corridor over the next couple of decades.

"It's a logical site. It makes great sense for development," said retail specialist John Crossman of Crossman & Co.

The Web site MiceAge.com reported Tuesday that it had obtained details of a plan Disney calls the "Western Beltway Development Project."

It calls for shopping, dining, hotel and time-share projects in Walt Disney World's largely undeveloped west side, near the S.R. 429 interchange. The area could rival Downtown Disney in size and scope, the Web site reports, but is several years away.

The timetable makes sense to C. Ray Maxwell, administrator of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the government district that oversees Walt Disney World. Maxwell said he has not seen or heard of specific plans for the area and is not aware that any exist. But he said development is likely there over time.

When Western Way was built last year, Reedy Creek extended utility lines along the road to prepare for development on Disney's west side.

"I do know they are looking at options of what they can do with that property," Maxwell said. "It's all zoned commercial so they could put some hotels or time shares or just about anything they wanted. But there's nothing imminent there at all."

Orange County Commissioner Teresa Jacobs, whose district includes Disney World, said she also has heard of no specific plans for that part of Disney; but she, too, would not be surprised to see it develop.

Andrea Finger, spokeswoman for Walt Disney Imagineering, the Disney group that would plan such a development, said, "We've always looked at this area as an additional gateway to the property. At this time we have nothing to announce."

S.R. 429, also known as the Western Beltway, opened through the area in December. Western Way, Disney's new road connecting a Western Beltway interchange to Disney World's road network, opened in March.


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