Explore the Magnificent History of the Treehouse Villas!
If you’re a Disney Vacation Club Member, you can skip this intro paragraph. If not, you likely have little to no idea what the heck a Treehouse Villa is! Disney Vacation Club Members know them as one of the available places to crash at Walt Disney World Resort. Us non-members can only hope to get a glimpse from the outside.
They’ve been Vacation Club property since 2009. I remember seeing these villas along the shores of Sassagoula River long before then. The history of these villas can actually be traced all the way back to 1975!
The Best Laid Plans…
In the original conception of Walt Disney World Resort, The Treehouse Villas were meant to be part of a proposed Lake Buena Vista community. The Treehouse Villas would serve as individual living quarters for members of the then-unnamed Lake Buena Vista ‘town’.
The Villas were constructed in 1975 on the shores of the Sassagoula River among dense Florida foliage that would allow the residents and their guests to feel a sense of recluse without ever having to leave the bustling Walt Disney Resort property.
As we all know, this little community was never seen through to completion, and the Treehouse Villas were abandoned for a while. Instead of letting the Villas sit empty, Disney came up with a clever idea to remodel them and try to sell them to visiting companies, billing the Villas as a quiet place for companies to rent out while on vacation. After that idea failed, Disney decided to remodel the Villas in 1987.
The College Phase
After this remodeling, Disney opened the Treehouse Villas up once more! The Villas were in perfect working condition after the remodel, and since they are such an unusual design (a round shape with more space than a hotel room, but not enough to be billed as a separate suite), selling them as hotel rooms would not have proved beneficial…
Especially considering housekeeping would have to trek through the woods to clean them each day! Instead, Disney decided to use the vacant Villas as temporary housing for visiting International college students. most of them worked in Epcot around World Showcase.
In 2001, a hurricane damaged many of the Villas, forcing Disney to close them. For awhile, it looked like the Villas would never again see the light of day, let alone a guest step through their door. Disney does what they do best: remodeled! Again, the Villas housed international college students until they were closed and (guess what’s coming?) remodeled in 2009.
The Remodel to Rule Them All
This time, though, something felt different. Vacation Club members began to receive newsletters, emails, and postcards promoting a new DVC destination that would be coming to Walt Disney World in the very near future.
These memos were splashed with renderings of what the remodeled Treehouse Villas would look like, and with that, the Villas would see their first ever guests! Here is a look at the inside of the Villas.
I’ve always wanted to see the inside of these Villas. The construction concept is so darn cool, and staying in a round, open-center room built over nationally preserved Florida swampland in the middle of my favorite place would be awesome!
Until I become a DVC member, though, I’m going to have to continue to admire them from afar, and you can too! Next time you’re at Disney Springs, take a boat ride along Sassagoula River to Port Orleans, and on the right hand side, you will catch glimpses of the Villas nestled among the trees!
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