Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Daily Figment 164: Lake Buena Vista Resort Community

Known by many names over the ensuing years, the Lake Buena Vista Resort started out with an entirely different focus--even after construction began.

Originally, the 1973 plans 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, they 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.

The 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.

Perched 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

Since the 1973 announcement of the 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




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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