LAKE BUENA VISTA – If customers want it, then bring it back.
That’s the lesson of Walt Disney World’s groovin’ treehouse cabins, which opened in 1975, and were demolished in 2002. They were simple structures, up one story in the trees, and were cousins to the raised treehouses at ski resorts of the 1970s. They date from the time period when Disney wanted to make the area around Lake Buena Vista a sort of idealized garden city.
Disney always has its ear open when customers talk. Most companies, however, tend to brush off customers who tell them they miss a product. Usually, the customer has a problem with being too nostalgic, and is told that he doesn’t understand today’s market. But Disney will have none of that; if there is a market and angle, they are ready.
Last fall, Walt Disney World reopened the treehouses; they are now called Treehouse Villas, and have gone upscale. The Villas are located at Saratoga Springs Resort near the Downtown Disney section of Walt Disney World.
The Disney Vacation Club property includes 60 of these three-bedroom villa “treehouses,” which are built on pedestals amid forested glens. In a press release last fall, Jim Lewis, president of DVC, said in a press release last that they were built on the old idea.
“Our founder, Walt Disney, was well-known for having one foot in the past and one in the future. This new resort development shares that dynamic sensibility, blending modern luxury and design with the nostalgic spirit of one of the most storied resorts at the Walt Disney World Resort,” he said.
“Each project we’ve undertaken at Disney Vacation Club is unlike anything previously available in our resort portfolio, and the treehouse villas are proudly built on that tradition.”
WDW officials say that Imagineers were able to reduce the villas’ encroachment on the surrounding wetlands by 70 percent for each individual home site. They also were able to recycle 5,178 tons (65.22 percent) of concrete and metal materials from the old structure’s demolition.
“The treehouse villas are a really amazing place,” said Imagineer Todd Thomasson, in the release. ”Being surrounded by wetlands, we went to great lengths to work within the original resort’s footprint, building only on the previously developed land and not encroaching on the wetlands.” Crews constructed all 60 vacation homes onsite, utilizing machinery to move pieces of the different villas into place like a giant 3-D puzzle.