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March 14, 2013

Well -- after months of speculation -- rumors and people on the interweb asking "They're going to name it what?" It's official -- Downtown Disney is being expanded and rebranded as Disney Springs. At 1.1 million square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space -- it is a far cry from its humble beginnings.

When the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village opened in 1975 -- it was meant as the commercial hub of what Disney hoped would eventually be an actual city - with actual residents.

village 1975

That's why the old Disney Village resort's buildings (Now bulldozed for Saratoga Springs) were mostly townhomes.

Over time -- it became the Disney Village Marketplace. Then Pleasure Island was added in 1989 & the West Side in 1997.

Pleasure Island has been a ghetto of closed clubs since late 2008. Now, after at least 2 false starts construction is finally set to start next month.

It will feature a lot of water features -- and will seem to spring from an actual spring.

Sources tell me the lead design on the revamp was designed by Elkus Manfredi best known for designing LA's swanky "lifestyle center" (read: mall) The Grove.

the grove

But they work with Disney a lot: Master planning WDW's World of DIsney Store -- which is getting a large expansion -- and all of Downtown Disney California.

World of Disney

Enough history -- here's your first look at the NEW Marketplace (which will keep that name but expect a large upgrade and expansion)

DS-Marketplace-Causeway-640x360

The new marketplace will include a new bridge from Rainforest Cafe to the T-Rex Cafe area.

bridge

Disney didn't release that image. It was posted on WDWMagic.com by user Lee. Any black & white images are reposted here are from his sources -- and I appreciate his help.

While they announced Pleasure Island is becoming "The Landing"   there's also a new area being built called "Town Center" --which Disney says: "offers a sophisticated mix of shopping and dining along with a promenade where guests can relax, refresh and reconnect. "

DS-Town-Center-and-Landing-640x360

Disney also announced the West Side will keep its name. And now will "provide an exuberant atmosphere with lively entertainment, along with a series of new elevated spaces that provide both shade and an overlook to the activity below."

west side

Disney also released concept art of the new entrance -- and emphasis on the Waterfront area.

DS-Water-Tower-and-Entrance-640x362