View Full Version : The history of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC)

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DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 10:58 AM

This is DVC Mike's "History of DVC". I always wondered why there wasn't a good history of the Disney Vacation Club. Yes, there are good tidbits of DVC history scattered around the web - but not consolidated in one place. So, I always wanted to create a thread covering the history of DVC. This thread is my attempt to do so. It is in no way comprehensive, but I think it covers most of the significant events.


The original "Conch Flats" Disney Vacation Club resort (now called Old Key West)

Posts #2 and #3 contain the table of contents. Post #4 contains a summary of key milestones for DVC.

The subsequent 100+ posts (Post #5 onwards) contain news articles and press releases, along with relevant images, that covers the history of DVC from 1990 to the present.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 10:58 AM

If I'm able to edit this post after I'm done with this thread, I'll come back and add a table of contents.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 10:59 AM

If I'm able to edit this post after I'm done with this thread, I'll come back and add the second half of the table of contents.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 10:59 AM




DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:00 AM

The Disney Decade

In January 1990, Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner unveiled a massive and ambitious ten-year building plan. He called it The Disney Decade. Given the opportunity for profit in an industry racking up sales in the billions, Eisner and team had decided in 1989 that Disney would go into the time-share business.

It was a difficult decision, because it would be a marriage of two opposites: squeaky clean Disney and tarnished time-sharing, an industry known in the 1970s and early 1980s for its sleazy, fly-by-night operators. "We looked at time-sharing for seven years. There was a serious concern that we didn't want to put our name on a negative consumer image. We didn't want to be associated with deplorable sales and marketing practices," said Don Goodman, Disney's vice president of real estate venture development. "But here we were in Orlando, the largest time-share market in the world. We concluded that there would be a lot of appeal for time-shares built by a stable developer," Goodman said.

In 1989, Disney established Disney Vacation Development, Inc., a subsidiary of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, a unit of The Walt Disney Company, to move forward with their timeshare plans.

One of the first indications of this decision was this news article from United Press International about timeshares coming to Walt Disney World.

Disney enters timeshare industry

January 14, 1990 | UPI

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner Sunday revealed that Disney plans to sell time share vacations at its Florida theme parks. Eisner gave no details about Disney's 'shared vacation ownership' program but said 500 units would be built at the company's Florida complex and offered to time share investors.

Time share resorts sell the same piece of property, usually a condominium, to several investors but allow each investor to use it only a limited number of days per year. Time share operations have been plagued by complaints of consumer fraud and deception, high pressure sales tactics and mismanagement. 'There are a lot of things that had bad reputations. Amusement parks had bad reputations before Disney came into the process,' Eisner said.

'We didn't use the word time share, not that we're afraid to use it,' Eisner said. 'We've hired the best people in the industry to work for us,' he said. 'We feel that we can do it in a really attractive, honest and capable way, and we're very excited about it,' he told reporters.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:01 AM

This short 4-sentence blurb in the Orlando Sentinel told us that site work had begun.

Site work has begun on the first time-share...

November 26, 1990 | Orlando Sentinel

UNDER WAY. Site work has begun on the first time-share units at Walt Disney World. The villas are planned around the front nine of the Lake Buena Vista golf course. The venture involves memberships, rather than selling an interest in each unit. Marketing is expected to begin in the summer.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:01 AM
The Original DVC Logo

Disney Vacation Development (DVD) named their timeshare program the "Disney Vacation Club".

The original DVC logo from 1991 contains three mountains, and was used until 1995 when the 2-mountain logo replaced it.

The original DVC logo with 3-mountains

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:02 AM

Below is Phase 1 of the Disney Vacation Club resort, later referred to as "Conch Flats" until it would receive it current name of "Old Key West" when the second DVC resort would open. Notice the "Sales Center" (to the right of building 16), which would be the first of three at Walt Disney World (the second one would be at Boardwalk and the third one at Saratoga Springs). Building 16 would be used as model rooms.

Feb 13, 1995 revised site plan for the Disney Vacation Club resort
Initial phases

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:02 AM
Below are the plans for subsequent phases of the Disney Vacation Club resort.

Feb 13, 1995 revised site plan for the Disney Vacation Club resort
Subsequent phases

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:03 AM

Disney has taken construction bids for...

January 28, 1991 | Orlando Sentinel

CLUB FOR GROWN-UPS. Disney has taken construction bids for the first 190 villas at Disney Vacation Club, the entertainment giant's foray into the time-share business. The club isn't taking the usual time-share approach, in which people purchase slices of a property, usually in weekly increments. The Disney project involves memberships. The villas will be built around the second and eighth holes of the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. A builder is to be selected in the next few weeks.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:04 AM

DVC Preview Center


The DVC Preview Center opened up in Oct 1991. It was renamed the Commodore House in Dec 1991. The Commodore House was a welcome facility across from the Hospitality House and overlooking the pond next to the bridge. Guests could watch a movie presentation about DVC (the film finished with pixie dust spreading across the ceiling), enjoy refreshments and even a dish of ice cream after completing the tour.

Commodore House had a wonderful covered porch that ran the entire length of the building looking over the golf pond. It had rocking chairs and was just an elegant setting (and very conducive to selling a luxury timeshare disguised as a Disney resort). The porch was accessible from the ground as well as from the interior of the center - so guests could stroll along the porch and enjoy the rocking chairs even during after-hours for the sales center. There was a very comfortable sitting area for guests and a screening room where the current sales video was shown throughout the day. Your DVC Guide would then walk with you next door to Building 16 to view the models.

The building that was home to the first models was Building 16 - which still exists just as it did at that time. Three-story Building 16 has six lock-off 2BRs, two dedicated 2BRs and 2 GVs. One of the lock-offs was used as a model as well as one of the GVs.

In July of 1998, the Commodore House was closed and demolished to complete the plans for the resort (buildings 62, 63 and 64 were constructed on the site of the Commodore House). At this time the DVC Sales Center was moved to BWV where it remained until sales began for SSR in 2003. The sales center has been at the SSR location ever since.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:04 AM

Sales Begin

TWENTY YEARS - A growing attraction - Walt Disney World's 20th anniversary
Memberships For The Disney Vacation Club Go On Sale Today - Starting At $11,730.

September 30, 1991 | Orlando Sentinel

Amid the hoopla of the 20th anniversary of Walt Disney World, the Walt Disney Co. is launching a spanking-new venture that puts a new twist on time-share ownership. Beginning today, Disney will sell memberships in the Disney Vacation Club, giving buyers the right to stays in Key West-style vacation homes overlooking the Lake Buena Vista golf course east of Epcot Center.

The Disney Vacation Club works something like a country club - with a one-time purchase price and annual dues. Memberships in the Disney Vacation Club will start at $11,730 and will be good for 50 years. Owners will be assessed an annual fee of $500 to $700 as their share of property maintenance. Disney plans to offer financing for the initial membership fee. Owners will receive free admission to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and the Disney-MGM Studio Tour until Dec. 31, 1999.

Mark Pacala, vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Development, a new Disney subsidiary, said, "The Disney Vacation Club is a time share with a Disney twist. We have taken the time-share concept and added unprecedented flexibility."

Depending upon the type of membership they buy, Vacation Club owners will be allotted a certain number of 'points.' Each year, owners will decide how to use their points. For example, an owner could use his points to reserve a two-bedroom villa for a week's stay during peak seasons, for a nine-day stay during a slow month such as September, or to reserve a villa for several weekend stays. Owners also can borrow points from the upcoming year, or bankroll points not used in the current year.

Pacala anticipates the majority of buyers will pay from $11,730 to $15,500 to join. He said he believes the average purchase price will be $13,500, which will enable the buyer to spend one week a year in a two-bedroom villa during spring or summer. Three-bedroom, one-bedroom and studio units will also be available.

The Vacation Club also has an arrangement with Resort Condominiums International of Indianapolis. That deal allows members to trade vacations for stays in 100 condominiums in Europe, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Vacation Club owners' reservations will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis. Fifty-one units will be available for occupancy starting in December and 146 additional units will open by next summer.

"We have spent a year - and even had some delays - making sure that this is done exactly right," said Michael Eisner, Walt Disney Co. chairman and chief executive officer, who visited the Vacation Club Sunday. "We think this is about as high-quality a product as you'll find anywhere."

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:05 AM

Disney released the following press release, which ran verbatim in several newspapers of the day.

Photo of the new DVC Preview Center provided to the press which ran in newspapers. These are cast members in a staged photograph.

Disney Press Release

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:06 AM

Time-share Idea Gets Disney Touch

Company Takes New Approach To Business

October 13, 1991 | Orlando Sentinel

A few years ago, Mickey looked outside the gates of Walt Disney World and saw a booming business. Orlando had become the time-share resort capital of the world - an estimated $400 million annual industry in Central Florida. That success was largely because of the presence of Disney, but Mickey wasn't getting a bite of it.

To do so was tempting, but there was a downside for the company's squeaky clean image. A bad smell lingered about the time-share cheese. The industry's record had included charges of high-pressure sales tactics, fraudulent sweepstakes campaigns and build-'em and leave-'em developers. Yet other aspects of the business were tantalizing. The industry had steadily improved in the past five years, and it had attracted other high-profile corporations with reputations to uphold, such as Marriott Corp., Hilton Hotels Corp. and International Telephone & Telegraph Corp.

Disney decided to partake of the time-share feast, but not until it had developed what it believes is a new approach to the business. "We're not a time-share resort," said Mark L. Pacala, vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Development Inc., operators of the Disney Vacation Club. "We're a vacation club. We're calling ourself something different. We are different. We want people to judge by our performance, not in reaction to the word time share." The words "time share" never appear in any Disney sales brochures.

Disney started selling the club this month. It is wrapping up construction of 197 units in a Key West-themed community on the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. Of those, 51 units have been reserved for the vacation club, and the remainder will operate as a Disney resort hotel. Eventually, as many as 500 units will be built, and all may be converted to vacation club use.

The venture is different from time shares in more than just its name. Disney had to tackle two key problems when it decided to move into the business - image and control.

To achieve control, Disney has a different way of selling its space. Instead of selling a specific apartment for a week or two a year, Disney sells interest in the club that entitles buyers to a certain number of points. Buyers use the points to reserve different types of accommodations at different times for varying lengths of stay - all on a first-come, first-served basis. The membership is good for 50 years.

For example, the minimum purchase of $11,730 would entitle the buyer to 230 vacation points ($51 per point). The buyer could use those points in various ways, including a three-week stay in a studio apartment during a slow season, a one-week stay in a two-bedroom apartment during a moderate season or a four-day stay in a three-bedroom apartment at a busy season like Christmas.

Participation can be in almost any amount. Pacala said research indicates most purchases will be in the $11,730-to-$16,000 range. As many as 2,500 members might participate in the first 51 units, Pacala estimated. At the $11,730 minimum, that would be a sellout of almost $30 mil-lion.

Pacala said the company never considered selling time-share property. The late Walt Disney bought 30,000 acres specifically so he could maintain total control, he said. Property owners might be tempted to try to stick their collective noses into the business of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the governmental arm of Disney created by special legislative action in 1967. Disney in effect governs its 30,000 acres it-self.

The vacation club is registered by the state as a condominium and falls under both state condominium and time-share sales laws. Condominium association members have votes, but Pacala sees no problem with that. The vacation club association will vote on such things as special assessments, budget increases of more than 15 percent and retaining the resort management, which is Disney.

Suppose the association votes out Disney as manager. Not likely, Pacala believes. However remote, suppose it happened? The ground lease spells out how the resort must be managed and to what standards, Pacala said. For anyone but Disney to do it would be "very expensive," he said. "It's our infrastructure. Our know-how."

With the control factor resolved, Disney then tackled image.

Marketing will be low-key, said Pacala, who was recruited from Marriott Corp., where he helped develop the Fairfield Inn economy motel concept. Information will be left for visitors at Disney World's 9,000-plus hotel rooms. Two booths, one at the Magic Kingdom and one at Epcot Center, also will distribute information to those who ask for it. No gifts or other incentives will be offered for visitors to go to the Vacation Club Preview Center and hear the sales pitch. Buyers through the end of the decade, though, do get an incentive - free admission to the Disney theme parks during their vacation visits. State law requires a 15-day period when buyers can change their minds and get their money back. Disney will offer 30 days.

The 1-to 1 1/2-hour sales presentation by "vacation guides" includes a movie and two video presentations. Participants have three opportunities to leave and catch a van back to their hotels or the parks. "If someone's yawning or looking at their watch, the vacation guide asks if they want to go on," Pacala said. If a visitor decides to buy, the salesperson leaves the visitor with a manager who makes sure the buyer understands the purchase and isn't pressured. All visitors make two final stops - first at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor for ice cream and then at a wall mural for a photograph. The picture is sent to both buyers and non-buyers as a souvenir, along with a survey asking if any problems were encountered.

Disney has hired salespeople with a minimum of five years' experience. All went through three months of intensive training, not only in the vacation-club concept, but in the Disney culture. Ten percent to 20 percent have had experience in time-share sales. Pacala said compensation is based on commission and a base salary. Without spelling out the formula, Pacala said customers' feedback on how they were handled will affect a salesperson's earnings. Most salespeople are expected to get 60 percent to 80 percent of their earnings from the base salary, he said.

Buyers can finance through their bank or Disney. Payment plans range from one to 10 years with initial interest rates ranging from 10.8 percent to 13.8 percent. The lowest rates are for buyers who agree to direct payment deductions from their checking accounts. Besides the purchase price, club members pay annual dues starting at $500. That charge covers use of Disney's transportation as well as maintenance and real estate taxes.

Pacala said the program is designed for people who consistently take vacations. "We want people to buy because they want to use it," Pacala said. "It's not an investment." Even though the vacation-club structure is different from most time-share operations, it is firmly planted in the time-share culture.

Club members who don't want to come to Disney World every year can exchange with time-share owners through Resort Condominiums International, a worldwide exchange network. Exchanges may be made at the top 100 resorts of the network. "The underlying premise of time share is sound," Pacala said. "We've tried to approach this thing in a manner that avoids problems of the past."

Will the vacation club concept be expanded to Disney parks in California, Europe and Japan or even other resort areas? "We're not ruling anything out, but right now we're focusing all our energy right here," Pacala said. "We must make this a success first."

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:06 AM


On October 7, the DVC Preview Center opened and DVC started getting some press coverage.

Notice the use of the photo from Disney's press release

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:07 AM

If you happened to be one of the people who visited the DVC Preview Center, you received one of these cool brochures. This is the earliest DVC marketing brochure I've seen, so let's take a look at it.

Where the Magic Never Ends brochure

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:08 AM

The brochure talks of all the amenities of the new Disney Vacation Club resort. DVC was marketed as a luxury accommodation.


DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:08 AM

The rooms were huge compared to more recent DVC resorts. The 2-BR units, for example, are 1,395 square feet. Here's the room layout for the Studio/2-BR units:


DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:09 AM

And the 2-story Grand Villas were 2,375 square feet:


DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:10 AM

Here's the rendering of the Disney Vacation Club resort:


DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:10 AM

And of course, it didn't hurt that you got free park passes!



DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:11 AM

The original points chart:


This was unchanged until a reallocation took place in 1996, followed by additional reallocations in 2010 and 2011.

What's interesting is to compare this points chart against those from newer resorts such as BLT, VGF and PVB - and you'll see point inflation has taken place.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:12 AM

Disney Decade Revamped By Recession, Gulf War

Plans For Another Park And Boardwalk Stalled, But Hotels Moved Forward

September 7, 1992 | Orlando Sentinel

When Michael Eisner promised in early 1990 that the Walt Disney Co. would do nothing less than ''re-invent the Disney theme-park experience'' before the year 2000, he hadn't counted on a Mideast war and lengthy recession that would ravage tourism. Eisner's ''Disney Decade'' was a company-wide expansion that called for major additions to Walt Disney World in Orlando, including 29 new attractions and eight new hotels.

Today, Disney's ambitious plans - estimated then to cost more than $1 billion - remain essentially intact, company officials said. But the recession, which sent Disney World's attendance plummeting an estimated 13 percent last year, has prompted subtle shifts in strategy.

Some projects are expected to be delayed while others - especially those best able to lure visitors in a static economy - will be pushed forward. But prospects for some other attractions mentioned prominently by Eisner appear moribund.

Construction has yet to begin on Disney Boardwalk, an 82-acre speciality retail and entertainment complex on a waterfront site across from the Walt Disney World's Yacht and Beach Club hotels.

The complex, scheduled to open this summer, was to include an all-suite hotel and Coney Island-style boardwalk, with antique carousel and a Ferris wheel.

Early concept for the Boardwalk

Also delayed is an entertainment extravaganza that Eisner wanted to commission from Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer for Phantom of the Opera and Cats. Disney officials had said it could be part of Disney Boardwalk.

Don't count Disney Boardwalk out, Elrod said.

''We're working on different creative concepts, and we have not arrived at one that particularly suits us. That's not unusual. Until it strikes Michael's (Eisner's) fancy, we'll keep challenging the architects and designers to come up with something we think will really work.''

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:12 AM

Disney Designs A Better Mousetrap

The right time for time shares
The Company Thinks It Has Overcome The Poor Reputation Of Time Shares

February 14, 1993 | Orlando Sentinel

Walt Disney Co., with its squeaky-clean reputation, looked long and hard at the time-share resort business before taking the plunge. The profit potential was tempting - estimates in Orlando alone range to $400 million in business a year. Some of the best hospitality companies in the country had entered the market and were doing well. Only the past record of time shares - one tarnished by high-pressure tactics - caused Disney to hesitate.

Now, a little more than a year after getting into the business, the executive brought in by Disney to guide the way says the Disney and time shares are a good fit. The business is profitable. Disney's image is secure. Its vacation club members are happy campers.

Disney Vacation Club units became available in October 1991. Sales in the first year totaled about $50 million, said Mark Pacala, general manager and senior vice president of the vacation club. A large measure of that success is because of the built-in prospective customer base Disney can tap: The 10 million to 12 million visitors that flock to Walt Disney World each year. Guests at Disney hotels, for example, receive brochures daily describing the time shares.

Disney Vacation Club started with 197 condominiums in a Key West-themed community at Walt Disney World's Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. 150 units are under construction - the first will be available in March - and another 150 will be launched when this phase is completed. The units are used as Disney hotel accommodations until they are needed for the vacation club.

Vacation club expansion is planned beyond Disney World to Disney theme parks in California, Europe and Japan. "We're obviously looking at the other parks but not just there (at the other parks)," Pacala said. "If we carry out our vision, we will dot the world with Disney vacation clubs." The company "is exploring its options in North America" and a major announcement could be made within a few months, he added.

Using a time-share system introduced several years ago in Washington state and Germany as a model, Disney designed a different mousetrap from the usual time-share offering.

Most time shares involve the purchase of a particular condominium for a specific period of time each year, usually a week. In Disney's Vacation Club, the buyer purchases an interest in a 50-year leasehold in the development, not a particular condominium. That interest is converted to points, which are used to acquire use of the development at any time of year. Prime times, such as June and July, cost more points than off-season times, such as October. A two-bedroom apartment requires more points than a studio.

The minimum purchase is 230 points, and additional points can be bought in 25-point increments. The minimum purchase price has increased to $12,800 from $11,730. The average purchase now is about $15,000, Pacala said. The maximum purchase permitted is 2,000 points, costing $113,000 at the current $56.50 per point price. Several 2,000-point blocks have been sold, primarily to corporate buyers, Pacala said.

Here's the way it works: With 230 points, a member could get a week in a studio apartment during premier times, such as Christmas and Easter. That costs 151 points. That would leave enough points for another week in a studio apartment in less desirable seasons, such as October. That costs 69 points. Members also have the option to borrow points from future years to upgrade accommodations. A member could borrow points to add to his or her 230 points to get a two-bedroom apartment during premier times at a cost of 420 points per week.

Before it entered the time-share resort business, Disney was concerned because the industry in its early days was rife with high pressure and sometimes deceitful sales practices. Some resorts were poorly run and maintained. A main sales tool was ''the drop,'' a false assertion that a specially discounted price was available to a prospective buyer only at that particular time.

But Marriott Corp. got into the business in 1984 and did well with above-board business practices and efficiently run resorts. Other hospitality giants, like Hilton Hotels and Westin Hotels, followed. Kemmons Wilson, founder of Holiday Inns, jumped in with Orange Lake Country Club west of Disney World. Pacala, recruited from Marriott Corp., joined Disney after the company had done more than a year of study on the time-share industry.

Disney would not enter the market, Pacala was told, unless the business would meet Disney standards and image. Pacala didn't take the charge lightly. Some 1,600 prospects were reviewed before the first 30 salespeople were hired. Compensation is mostly salary with incentive commission.

Disney surveys the system constantly to make sure it is working as designed. Buyers are surveyed to make sure they weren't pressured and that they understood the program. Those who didn't buy are checked to make sure their experience was pleasant.

DVC Mike
11-23-2015, 11:13 AM

Disney Shores Up Plans To Build Resort Near Vero Beach

March 31, 1993 | Orlando Sentinel

After building the Grand Floridian Beach Resort, the Caribbean Beach Resort and the Beach Club, the Walt Disney Co. has hit upon a novel idea. Building a beach resort on an actual beach. Disney is buying 70 acres of oceanfront property near Vero Beach, where the company will for the first time open a resort outside the boundaries of its theme parks.


The time-share development - intended as part of the Disney Vacation Club - will begin with a 120-room inn and 60 vacation villas, expected to open during summer 1995. Plans call for another 260 villas to be built later.

The resort on Vero Beach, a two-hour drive from Orlando, will allow Disney to hold on to some of the tourists who plan their Florida visit in two stages - Disney World and the beach. "We were interested in the beach from the beginning, when we came to Florida," said John Dreyer, vice president of corporate communications. "Walt Disney himself knew that the beach was a big draw. He looked at beach sites."

But his company concentrated on developing resorts on its Orlando property until the success of the Disney Vacation Club in Orlando, a time share that opened in 1991. First-year sales of $50 million paved the way for the Vero Beach expansion, said Steve Carples, director of marketing for Disney Vacation Development.

The Vero Beach resort, to be built in the architectural styles of the Northeastern seaboard, could be the first of many Disney Vacation Clubs across the country."If we carry out our vision, we will dot the world with Disney vacation clubs," Mark Pacala, general manager and senior vice president of DVD, said recently.

Disney unveiled preliminary plans for the resort at a meeting of the Indian River Board of County Commissioners Tuesday morning. "I think it's fantastic," said Chairman Dick Bird. "It's some of the most exciting news we've had in this county for years." The county's economy is based on tourism and agriculture, Commissioner Fran Adams said. Disney told commissioners the resort would employ 350 people. "It's a great boon for our area," she said.

Disney will submit a master plan for approval by the County Commission within the next few months, Carples said.

Rumors had circulated for weeks that someone, possibly Disney, was buying three parcels of land owned by Gordon Nutt, an Orlando developer. But even Bird - a friend of Nutt and a commercial real estate broker, himself - couldn't get confirmation. Neither Disney nor Nutt would say how much Disney paid for the first 15 acres of land, nor how much it agreed to pay for two adjoining parcels on which Disney has options. Nutt did say that he had been discussing the sale with Disney for the last year.

The land was valued in January 1992 at just under $6 million, according to the Indian River County property appraiser. But the 1,600 feet of oceanfront property alone would sell for that much, Bird estimated. The resort property is about 7 miles south of Sebastian Inlet State Park. It is bordered on the north end by County Road 510, and straddles U.S. A1A.

It is the only property in the unincorporated county that is zoned for resort use, Bird said. North and south of the property are upscale neighborhoods. "That (land) has been what we considered our diamond in the rough, a very, very beautiful area," Adams said.

The pristine beach was a major attraction for Disney, which wants to create the atmosphere of an old-style resort with boardwalks and a 6-acre artificial lake. "We can offer a very unique experience to our visitors to really feel what that natural beach experience was all about," Carples said. "That's been lost when you look at a Daytona Beach."