Daily Figment 164: Lake Buena Vista Resort Community

Lake Buena Vista Resort Community Treehouse VillasKnown by many names over the ensuing years, the Lake Buena Vista Resort started out with an entirely different focus–even after construction began: the Lake Buena Vista Resort Community.

Originally, the 1973 plans for the Lake Buena Vista Resort Community called for a residential development with four different community themes based on golf, tennis, boating and western. A lot of construction took place in 1974: 133 townhomes and 4 model homes. The following year, Disney announced a retirement community, additional townhomes and residential apartments for Lake Buena Vista. The 60 Treehouse homes were finished by 1975. Then Disney changed plans.

See, if they allowed people to take up residence in Lake Buena Vista, thLake Buena Vista Resort Community Club Lake Villasey would become citizens. Citizens with voting rights. Voting rights that could block possible expansion of the Magic Kingdom and the Walt Disney World property. So, Disney changed the focus of the community to vacation villas, treehouse villas, club lake villas and fairway villas–basically, an alternative to the typical resort hotels.

The Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened in 1976, alongside the 35-acre Lake Buena Vista. It has also had its share of name changes: Walt Disney World Village, Disney Village Marketplace and Disney’s Marketplace. In 1980, the 8,000 square foot Conference Center opened in the Village. This increased the total available conference space at WDW to 38,000 square feet.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Community Treehouse VillasThe Walt Disney World resort community of Lake Buena Vista offers a healthy assortment of recreational activities, shopping and dining experiences, conference settings, guest services and lodgings.

Existing comfortably with Nature, the community was blended into a wooded 4,000-acre site in the southeastern corner of the Vacation Kingdom.

Guest accommodations were designed for those who dream of a peaceful retreat beside a lush rolling fairway or a secluded hideaway near a sun-spangled lagoon. Luxurious lodgings are found in a variety of settings at the Vacation Villas, Treehouse Villas, Club Lake Villas or Fairway Villas.

Even more spacious than the resort-hotel guest rooms, most of the Villas feature separate living rooms and kitchens. But the Villas are more than merely attractive and spacious. They are proof that beautiful and efficient housing can be harmonious with the environment.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Community Fairway VillasPerched among the pines along the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course, the two-bedroom Treehouse Villas illustrate a novel way to build residences in wetlands. Resting atop ten-foot-high pedestals, the Treehouses would stand above flooding if there were sufficiently heavy rainfall, leaving the ground below clear for natural drainage. The octagonal homes also boast marvelous bird’s-eye views of their natural surroundings.

Designed to showcase energy-efficient housing ideas, the Fairway Villas benefit from thoughtful positioning and energy-conserving construction methods and materials.

Exaggerated roof overhangs and double-glazed windows reduce heat absorption through exterior walls during warm weather. Air-to-air heat pumps serve as energy-minded air conditioners. When an air conditioner is on, heat is recovered from its condenser to provide hot water.

–pp 118-119, Walt Disney World: The First Decade

Lake Buena Vista Resort Community  Walt Disney World Village Since the 1973 announcement of the Lake Buena Vista Resort Community complex, the area has been known under the following names: Disney’s Village Resort, Walt Disney World Village, The Villas at the Disney Institute and finally, Saratoga Springs–which was a complete demolition of the Club Lake Villas.

As one would expect, nothing about the Village is ordinary. The chrome and concrete architecture typical of many shopping complexes has been forsaken here. In its place are weathered bricks, rich woods and cedar shingles that engender a warm and intimate atmosphere.

Exhaustively landscaped and embracing the 35-acre Buena Vista Lagoon, the Village reflects the same keen sense of design continuity found throughout the Vacation Kingdom.

But while the Village is harmonious, it is hardly homogenized. Each shop is stocked with its own pleasant surprises, and every restaurant and lounge is flavored with distinctive design accents.

Included among the shops are the Great Southern Craft Company, Toys Fantastique, Country Address, Sachet In, 24K Precious Adornments, and Lillie Langtry’s Old-Fashioned Photo Studio.

Among the dining facilities are the Verandah Restaurant, Cap’n Jack’s Oyster Bar, Heidelberger’s Deli, Lite Bite and the Village Restaurant.

Adjoining the Village Restaurant is the comfortable Village Lounge. Outfitted with cushy low sofas and club chairs, it presents the kind of jazz performers usually found only in big cities. It’s a great spot for before- or after-dinner drinks.

–p. 121, Walt Disney World: 20 Magical Years

Lake Buena Vista Resort Community Club Villas and Empress Lilly
Yes, there have been a lot of changes at Walt Disney World over the past 27 years. It is just another reason why we preach for you to slow down and soak in the details.

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13 thoughts on “Daily Figment 164: Lake Buena Vista Resort Community

  1. I’ve always loved that shot of the Treehouse Villas. Just seeing that picture reminds me of the earlier days of WDW. I never stayed at the Villas, but I’m pretty sure we drove around the area once or twice when I was a kid. They have kind of a mysterious aura about them!

  2. See, if they allowed people to take up residence in Lake Buena Vista, they would become citizens. Citizens with voting rights.

    One thing I immediately noticed when I saw the EPCOT pitch film on the Tomorrowland DVD was how there was absolutely no mention made of city hall, civil rights, or the possible effects of democracy on this perfectly organized city. I suppose it helped that at the same time I was reading French philosopher Jacques Ellul, who argued that the only way we could have the technological utopias of Science Fiction was in a dictatoral state.

  3. Several times I think about how I would have loved to stay in these. Just like I wished I had taken advantage of some of the offerings at the Dinsey Institute. Every now and then I will visit Microsoft Virtual Earth for a birds eye view. Thanks for the post.

  4. I stayed in one of the LBV Village loft-style Villas in 199 when The Disney Institute was there. Not only were the buildings remarkably modern feeling for being from 1975 (remember, tall ceilings became hot property in the 90’s), but it was the quietest, most peasant place I’ve ever stayed at Disney. Don’t regret having had that experience at all, especially given that Saratoga Springs is there now (which, to be fair, is quite nice and also very quiet).

  5. Cory – In “Married to the Mouse” it’s revealed that EPCOT residents would only be able to stay for 3 months at a time, so they would never be granted true residency and never allowed any voting rights.

  6. Very cool and timely, esp. considering the Treehouse Villas being in the news lately! Thanks for bringing us another great historical look back…

  7. Great post! During my very first trip to WDW we stayed in the Club Lake Villas, right along the water facing what is now the Marketplace. Fast forward many years, and we later became DVC members owning at Saratoga Springs. Its funny how things come full circle.

    I’m quite interested to see how the Treehouse Villas rennovation pans out – I’d love to stay over there.

  8. Interesting Foxx… And I admittedly find this whole episode an interesting exercise in the ambiguities of upholding purported American values while functionally working to undermine them, assuming that one sees the American values in democracy as opposed to, say, capitalism, which I’m not entirely sure of.

  9. I can’t wait to stay in these once again (yes, I know for sure that these WILL be able to be rented by Guests). I remember what a unique experience it was, as you felt that you were no longer in Florida, but were transported to a very lush, quiet place, that was very far removed from the theme-park environment.

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