March 23, 2023
Hotel refurbishments, resort construction, and character-inspired makeovers continue at Walt Disney World in 2022 and 2023. This resource provides info on room renovations, what to avoid, where to book, and what to expect in terms

Hotel refurbishments, resort construction, and character-inspired makeovers continue at Walt Disney World in 2022 and 2023. This resource provides info on room renovations, what to avoid, where to book, and what to expect in terms of hotel work at Walt Disney World. (Updated March 16, 2022.)

Even with the 50th Anniversary now underway, Walt Disney World continues to undertake refurbishments as staffing shortages preclude full occupancy of the resorts. Consequently, there are a number of smaller-scale projects that take certain buildings or a portion of rooms out of commission as part of more-targeted, rolling refurbishments.

We do Walt Disney World monthly hotel stays, usually emphasizing resorts where there are new things, changes, or ongoing construction to see how that harms, improves, or otherwise impacts the guest experience. If you’ve yet to book a hotel for your upcoming Walt Disney World vacation and want to be notified about all of the latest resort changes, sign up here for our FREE Disney newsletter here.

When booking a Walt Disney World vacation, we highly recommend taking into account recently-completed and ongoing construction projects at the various resorts, as these absolutely can impact the quality of your trip. Booking a hotel with a closed pool or construction noise and cranes right outside your window is obviously going to be a worse experience than a resort that just finished its big refurbishment and still has that fresh feeling and ‘new hotel’ smell.

Suffice to say, a lot is happening on the hotel front at Walt Disney World. Let’s take a look at all of the current and upcoming major hotel projects that have the potential to impact guests…

Ongoing or Upcoming Hotel Refurbishments

All Star Sports – Walt Disney World delayed the reopening of All Star Sports Resort to “refresh the Sports theme area.” (See Walt Disney World Hotel Reopening Dates for more details and the current status of all resorts.)

It’s not totally clear what that means or entails, but our expectation is that once this hotel reopens in Spring 2022, the room reimagining will be completed. Hopefully more is being done to address dated areas of All Star Sports, too.

Art of Animation – Flippin’ Fins Pool, Schoolyard Splashground, and the Big Blue pool have now all reopened from their refurbishments earlier in the year.

Currently, the Cozy Cone Pool is closed for refurbishment through mid-April 2022.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village – Through April 2022, the Samawati Springs Pool at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas — Kidani Village will be closed for refurbishment. During this time, guests staying at Kidani Village may use the Uzima Springs Pool at Animal Kingdom Lodge — Jambo House.

Construction may be visible and audible while this refurbishment is underway during daytime hours, but not between dusk and 9:00 am. If you’re unfamiliar with the layout of these sister properties, Kidani Village and Jambo House are about ~10 minutes apart when using the walkway; there’s also bus service between the two.

Contemporary Resort – Work on room overhauls in the A-Frame Tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort is now finished. Additionally, the redesigned lobby and Steakhouse 71 restaurant have opened. See Photos & Review: Contemporary’s Hit & Miss Makeover for a look around.

Work continues on other areas of the resort, including rooms in the Garden Wing. This project got started later than initially forecast, and Walt Disney World has been publicly silent about a timeline. At present, rooms are not bookable in the Garden Wing until mid-June 2022, which likely means it won’t be finished until then at the earliest. However, it’s possible that’s just the first phase, and construction won’t be fully-finished by then. Those booked in the Garden Wing who are impact by the work will be moved to the new rooms in the main A-Frame tower at no additional charge.

For some reason, Disney phone reps are telling some guests that there is no room refurbishment taking place in the Garden Wings. We can tell you, with complete certainty, that this is false.

Above is a photo of the Garden Wing at Disney’s Contemporary Resort as of March 2022 taken from the monorail. There’s another at the top of the post showing a wider view. The entire parking lot is closed off and being used as a construction staging area. You can’t access most of the Garden Wing because of construction (that’s why the running trail is listed as closed through mid-May 2022 on Disney’s official site). We have no clue why Walt Disney World isn’t being more forthcoming about this project, but it’s definitely in-progress.

Beyond this, the Grand Canyon Concourse looks tired, dated, and visually chaotic. It has been a hodgepodge for the last decade, with its style continuing to age and clutter continually added. Here’s hoping the second phase of this refurbishment also includes a decluttering and cleaner design for that.

Additionally, the Feature Pool and whirlpool spa will again be closed for refurbishment from January 9, 2023 through early April 2023. The water play area and Bay Lake Pool will remain open during that project.

Fort Wilderness Campground – Through April 3, 2023, Meadow Swimmin’ Pool and whirlpool spa will be closed for refurbishment. The water play area and Meadow Snack Bar along with the Wilderness Swimmin’ pool will remain open.

Work has been completed on Tri-Circle-D Ranch, which is now open to resort guests and those with reservations. Other enhancements in the Settlement are also finished and those walls have come down. There are still lingering vestiges of the cancelled Reflections — A Disney Lakeside Lodge project. However, there is no audible/visible construction impact at Fort Wilderness, aside from the blight.

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Disney Vacation Club has announced plans to expand the Villas at Grand Floridian by overhauling the Big Pine Key building of existing hotel rooms at Walt Disney World’s flagship resort. This project is now underway and will likely last until mid-2023. During this time, guests may see or hear construction during daytime hours, but most hotel amenities will remain available.

Beyond the DVC expansion, don’t be surprised if Grand Floridian receives a substantial overhaul in 2022 or 2023. There were rumors of a refurbishment pre-closure, but those have since fizzled out. However, it would make sense to take those rooms down if other Magic Kingdom resorts can absorb the displaced guests.

Villas at Grand Floridian – This small DVC property is now receiving renovations scheduled for completion in Spring 2022, which involves installation of foldaway beds behind living room sofas. This feature debuted at Disney’s Riviera Resort before becoming part of the recent refurbishment of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. We are huge fans of this feature, and expect it to be a solid addition at both resorts.

Construction is already underway inside the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, with rooms on the top floor now being done. Crews are moving down, with the 4th and 5th floors now under construction wraps.

Polynesian Village Resort – Walt Disney World has announced plans to build a new DVC tower at Polynesian Village Resort, replacing Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, between the existing Polynesian longhouses and Wedding Pavilion, near the Grand Floridian. No construction timeline or other details have been announced, but it’s expected to open in late 2024.

Prior to this news, work is finished on the Great Ceremonial House, porte-cochère, new monorail station, and gardens. Room refurbishments were also part of the Poly’s overhaul and those are now finished. See our Review, Photos & Video: New Moana Rooms at Polynesian Village Resort for a tour and thoughts on the changes from our most recent hotel stay. If you’re looking at the DVC rooms, see our Review, Photos & Video: New Rooms at Polynesian Villas.

Wilderness Lodge’s Boulder Ridge Villas – Sometime in 2022, the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will receive a full refurbishment, including redesigned rooms. The specific date still has not yet been set, but we suspect it won’t happen until August or September and be done as quickly as possible.

There’s also no concept art for those rooms, but we’ve seen test rooms (that look fantastic). If those are the final design, expect something that melds elements of the current style plus that of Copper Creek with the functionality of the new rooms at Saratoga Springs.

Major Completed Refurbishments

All Star Movies & Music – Following their reopening, the room overhauls are finished at both All Star Music and Movies.

We’ve stayed in these new rooms, which you can read about in Photos & Video: Newly Reimagined Rooms at the All Star Resorts. This is a huge upgrade from the previous design, which was more minor leagues than all-star caliber. Suffice to say, we’re fans.

Port Orleans Riverside – The soft goods refurbishment project that includes the addition of Princess and the Frog thematic elements and other functional design changes is now finished at Port Orleans Riverside. We stayed in these and wrote about the experience in our New Rooms at Port Orleans Resort – Riverside post.

Prior to the closure, the Royal Rooms were still left to be renovated. Oddly, only some of those rooms were finished and there are no signs of construction crews, so our assumption is that the second half of this project has been abandoned.

Saratoga Springs – For the first time in its 15 year history, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa received a top to bottom refurbishment of both the exterior and interior of the resort that wrapped up this fall. We stayed in the new rooms, and share thoughts, photos & video in Splendid New Rooms at Saratoga Springs Resort Tour.

Additionally, Saratoga Springs received lobby, porte cochere, and pool refurbishments. All of this work is now finished.

Wilderness Lodge – This big top to bottom room redesign for the hotel side of Wilderness Lodge is now finished. In addition to standard guest rooms being redesigned, the same has happened with Club Level rooms and Old Faithful Club Lounge. Work on the grounds around Wilderness Lodge also has concluded, with Fire Rock Geyser being refurbished and some larger trees removed.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Have any recent observations or experiences with hotel construction at Walt Disney World you’d be willing to share? Where at Walt Disney World are you staying in 2022 or 2023? Any resorts you’re intentionally avoiding? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments of these resort refurbishment or reimagining projects? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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