“I’m sort of like a dad. I love the Swan, I love the Dolphin, but the newest baby is going to be something special,” said Fred Sawyers, general manager of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort.
Sawyers said The Cove will be group-oriented and event- or convention-focused, giving companies that may have outgrown the current property a reason to come back.
“Demand has really been off the charts. We’re going to do about 5 percent more in occupancy this year than we’ve ever done before,” Sawyers said.
According to tourism officials, 72 million people visited Orlando in 2017. With several other projects coming to Disney in the next few years, Sawyers believes 75 million people could visit Orlando this year.
“I think it really does speak well of Orlando as a destination. We’ve got great infrastructure. Things like roads, the airport and convention center expanding … The future is very bright,” Sawyers said.
The Cove will include a rooftop venue for weddings or rental to VIP groups. Like the Swan and Dolphin hotels, The Cove will have walking access to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Boardwalk, Yacht and Beach resorts.
Sawyers expects The Cove to open in less than two years.
The Cove is the latest addition to a changing skyline at Walt Disney World. Disney's Hollywood Studios debuted Toy Story Land this summer and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is set to debut in 2019. The park also has at least three other Disney-owned hotels coming in the next few years, including an immersive Star Wars-themed resort, a nature-themed resort, a major expansion to Disney's Coronado Resort and the new Riviera Resort.
Disney is also planning to unveil its Skyliner gondola system in 2019 and a new "Guardians of the Galaxy" roller coaster is coming to Epcot in time for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary in 2021.
PHOTOS: See artist renderings of The Cove