The Orlando Sentinel is reporting today that most of Disney Institute is to be shut down and replaced by the new Disney Vacation Club. It looks like eventually, the entire Disney Institute will be converted over to the new DVC. This is an interesting article, and describes many of the reasons for doing this.
Disney decides vacation – not education – is hot
By Robert Johnson
Walt Disney World plans to demolish about one-fourth of its troubled Disney Institute resort and build 192 new time-share units there.
The Disney Institute opened more than five years ago but has been largely shuttered of late because attendance has declined.
But Disney’s “Vacation Club” time-share apartments are hot sellers. Customers, mostly with families, plunk down between $11,000 and $150,000 for the right to stay at various Disney resorts, including the time-share units themselves, for periods ranging from one week to more than a month annually.
Construction on the new time-share apartments that will displace part of Disney Institute will start in the spring, said George Aguel, senior vice president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. The new resort, scheduled to open in 2004, doesn’t yet have a name. “We’re still working on a theme,” Aguel said.
Located near the Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island entertainment-dining areas, the new time shares are evidence that the strategy of selling resort units is more viable than opening more hotel rooms. Last year, Disney World indefinitely delayed the planned opening of its huge Pop Century hotel and closed its Port Orleans resort.
In sharp contrast, the 536 Vacation Club rooms that opened in 1996 in Disney World’s Boardwalk Villas are nearly sold out, Aguel said.
Another Disney World time share, Beach Club Villas, is scheduled to open this summer, he said. Pre-opening sales are to begin in February.
Disney Institute rooms were priced from $200 to $500 a night. Disney officials have previously said that the cutbacks at Disney Institute are partly a result of the post-Sept. 11 travel slowdown. Disney World has almost 22,000 hotel rooms and about 2,000 time-share units.
Ensconced in a leafy area bordering a golf course, Disney Institute derived its name from the educational entertainment concept on which it was founded.
The brainchild of Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner, it began as a resort that combined vacations with the study of personal-enrichment pursuits such as gardening and the arts.
But the hotel, which housed such famous guests as President Clinton, failed to achieve the kind of success Disney management expected.
Founded in a year of record crowds at Walt Disney World, Disney Institute now often has a deserted look. After initially catering to tourists seeking a different Disney experience, the focus later shifted to business travelers and corporate groups.
Although the resort remains partly open, most of its 800 employees have been transferred to other jobs in various parts of Disney World’s hotels and theme parks.
Will new time shares eventually displace the rest of Disney Institute, with the initial 192 units being just a first phase? Aguel deflected that question. “You really make those plans based on demand, once you get into the sales process.”