Should Disney Continue with Stand Alone Hotels?

It was announced last month that The Walt Disney Company has canceled plans to build a 500 room National Harbor resort in Washington, D.C. Disney purchased the 15 acres in May of 2009 for $11 million.

Looking to build a stand-alone Disney branded hotel, they pulled out with Disney spokeswoman Kristin Nolt Wingard stating, "Given the full slate of expansion currently underway at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the timing isn't right to proceed with another new project of this scale."

Disney's Hawaiian Retreat, AulaniDisney's Hawaiian Retreat, Aulani
Disney just spent $850 million building the new Aulani Resort on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The Aulani project also hasn't been without problems though with the suspending of Aulani time share unit sales and the shakeup in DVC management. There is also the highly anticipated Art of Animation Resort, which will open in May of 2012 with over 2,000 rooms.

The big question is would Disney Resorts in the United States work outside of Florida and California? Disney's Aulani Resort is a special exception I believe because most families vacationing on the island of Oahu will view it as a vacation experience and the magic of Disney just adds to that.

There's long been talk of new Disney Theme Parks in the Midwest and most recently in Texas. I think that it could be difficult to have a Disney Park in a seasonal climate, but a Disney branded hotel could work throughout the United States. As long as Disney made the hotel an experience and not like any chain hotel.

Would you visit a Disney branded hotel throughout the United States? As long as each hotel still had the noted Disney customer service and would be an experience, I think it could work.

There's also the view that Disney hotels that are not attached to a theme park would cheapen the experience of a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Do you think the Disney characters belong only in California or Florida? Would you like to see them outside the theme parks and at Disney hotels throughout the United States?

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us on Disney expanding throughout the US.

Laci wrote on Tue, 01/17/2012 - 16:09:

Laci's picture

Hilton Head isn't in Florida or Cali....
National Harbor is nice, so maybe.

Mark Hickson wrote on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 23:35:

Mark Hickson's picture

Aulani has not proved (yet) that a stand alone Disney resort will work. It is a wonderful hotel but it's location might be it's Acheales heel (depressed part of Oahu with very bad traffic to the airport). In my opinion Maui would have been a better choice.

Kristen K. wrote on Fri, 01/20/2012 - 14:42:

Kristen K.'s picture

I had been really looking forward to National Harbor because I'd love to take the family to DC, and booking with our DVC points is so much easier than shelling out the extra cash for a room.

Rocky H. wrote on Tue, 01/24/2012 - 02:22:

Rocky H.'s picture

The wife and I are retired and live in Northern Illinois. We are also Disney vacation club members and we can't wait to get back down to Orlando and hang out at Epcot and the other parks. To us, the Disney experience means the parks - especially Epcot. We love staying in the high end DVC resorts and having a full kitchen and laundry in our room. We also like to spend most of our daylight time at the different parks just watching people, eating, and enjoying the ambiance of the whole Disney package.

To me, I am not interested in making the long jaunt to Aulani and hanging out at the resort there. We have stayed at Disney's Hilton Head resort and while it was nice, it wasn't the same as being at WDW. Yes, the resort people had lanyards and traded pins with us, but once you started walking around the facility - it just wasn't the same. I have no interest in going back. We have been to Hawaii. Nice hotels like Aulani would be nice to stay at, but there are lots of nice hotels around the Islands. Even if some of he Disney characters were hanging around the resort, it wouldn't be the same.

Many times, when we head down to WDW in Orlando, we will take friends and family with us. Part of the fun of going down and taking people with us is to show them secret places at the parks that are special to us, show them the magic that goes with Disney World, show them why WDW is a place for grownups to have a good timne - not just kids. There is nothing like the Disney Parks, and if you are staying in a Disney resort, you need to be close to a Disney park for the real Disney experience. Just my opinion.

MrHub wrote on Fri, 09/07/2012 - 00:54:

MrHub's picture

Rocky your opinion is dittoed here. That's pretty much the way we feel. We think about going somewhere else and then we think " we're spending all this money and we could be going to Disney!" and thats what happens, thats why we are DVC members, but even then, we pay to stay at the Poly most of the time.

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