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Retro Orlando

Upcoming developments are proving
that everything old is new again.

What’s old is new again in central Florida. Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort have plunged into some changes and additions that will excite visitors, especially those who lived their childhood in the 1950s–60s.


Above: Disney Springs will have an Old Florida feel. ©Disney

Below: Renderings depict the retro look that will be sported by the new Cabana Bay Beach Resort. ©Universal Studios


What’s new at Disney

Never satisfied with the status quo, a Disney hallmark, Downtown Disney at the resort will be transformed into Disney Springs, a nostalgic destination that will offer guests more shopping, dining, and entertainment than ever before, but with a new twist: a nod to “Old Florida.”

Visitors will wander among the eclectic and contemporary noteworthy name brand shops and flagship anchor stores through beautiful open-air promenades, meandering springs, and waterfront charm. The venue will all be tied together in a series of four neighborhood settings inspired in part by drawing on the appeal of Florida’s established coastal towns and natural splendor.

The delightful areas will be interconnected by a flowing spring and vibrant lakefront, allowing guests to stroll through the imaginative setting at their own pace. The neighborhoods will hopefully “make guests feel at home,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Despite the desirable relaxed atmosphere, Disney Springs will double the number of shops, restaurants, and other venues for visitors to explore, totaling more than 150 establishments that feature the same focus on storytelling and attention to detail that is a symbol of Disney philosophy.

Guests arriving at the complex gateway will be greeted with a signature water tower and spectacular entryway before experiencing: a Town Center; a colorful and thriving commercial district called The Landing; the family-friendly Marketplace; and a West Side section that delivers an exuberant atmosphere with lively entertainment.

Collectively, these efforts will resonate with old and new Disney enthusiasts, resulting in another round of treasured special memories for families and guests. It will all come to fruition in 2016.

What’s new at Universal

Not far down the road, Universal Orlando Resort has some changes in the making as well. On tap to open its doors to visitors in early 2014, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is an attractive value-priced hotel that also features moderately priced family suites.

The new lodging is the fourth hotel within Universal Orlando Resort and will evoke the classic, retro-feel of iconic beach resorts from the 1950s and 1960s when the swimming pool was the place to relax after the day’s long road trip. Highlights include a 10-lane, retro bowling alley; two main pools; and Universal Orlando’s first lazy river. An area located around a North Courtyard will open first, followed later this year by an expanse located around a South Courtyard. Each area will have a different look and feel.

The North Courtyard and its 600 family suites are inspired by the sweeping motor courts. It will feature four-story buildings with open corridors and direct access to guest rooms.

The South Courtyard also will be inspired by the era of the 1950s and 1960s, but with an entirely different vibe. The South Courtyard will feature a colorful, tropical resort design with serpentine, seven-story towers flowing like waves around a massive pool complex that includes the 700-foot-long lazy river. In addition to 300 suites, the towers will include 900 guest rooms.

As with all resort hotels, guests at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort will be just a brief walk from Universal Orlando’s theme parks and Universal CityWalk. They will enjoy benefits that include early park admission, complimentary shuttle bus transportation to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk, complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to their hotel, and resort-wide charging privileges with their room key.

These groovy new digs are cool to be sure, but millennials also can relate to their childhood heroes at the park’s attractions as they swing above the streets with Spider-Man, battle aliens alongside Agent J, help Shrek save Princess Fiona, and hang with the minions from Despicable Me. Transformers: The Ride-3D opened last year, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter–Diagon Alley is scheduled to open in 2014.

The lure of a Florida vacation has always been strong, but the two major players in the state just made the central Florida area that much more appealing–for kids of all ages.

Tom Wuckovich is a contributor from Valrico, Fla.

Jan/Feb 2014 Issue


Talk to your AAA Travel professional about specials offered during January for Disney and during February for Universal.

Room rates at Cabana Bay Beach Resort start at $119 per night for guest rooms and $174 per night for family suites.

To visit Orlando, first stop by your nearest AAA service office for maps, reservations, TripTiks® and TourBook® guides.

Discount admission tickets to Universal and Disney theme parks are available at your full-service AAA branch or online at



Retro Orlando

Vacations should allow us to tap into that inner child, the spirit of care-free adventure that often gets pushed aside once we’ve “grown up.”

One AAA editor shares what’s great about Disney vacations for adults seeking to connect with that spirit.

Fun without rides

Walt Disney World is catering to adults and is the perfect place for a couples-only, grown-up vacation. With so much to do–sophisticated shopping, luxury accommodations, culinary adventures, world-class golf, and nighttime entertainment–you can have fun without the rides.

Annual events also are geared toward adults. For example, during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March–May), see more than 30 million blossoms and take in a workshop with national gardening experts.

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in the fall is a chance to taste worldwide cuisine and savor fine wines while viewing culinary demonstrations and talking to guest chefs.

Karen Evitible, editor, AAA Allied Group, Inc., West Hartford, Conn.


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