Clarification: The Boathouse restaurant that is currently under construction will not be owned by Landry, which now owns and operates the Rainforest and T-Rex Cafes.
EXCLUSIVE — Disney Springs, the comprehensive redo of Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney, will have some major restaurant names when it opens in 2016 if the current plans come to fruition. Among the restaurants that are in talks to be part of the ambitious project are Morimoto, the Japanese and sushi restaurant of chef Masaharu Morimoto and the Starr restaurant group with locations in Philadelphia and New York; STK, a modern steakhouse with locations in New York, Miami and Las Vegas; The Edison, a Los Angeles restaurant that celebrates the era of invention; and the Boathouse, a new concept from the same people who brought you Rainforest Cafe and T-Rex Cafe. Of these new restaurants, only STK is close to having dry ink on the agreement.
In addition, Planet Hollywood, the movie-themed restaurant with headquarters in Orlando, will undergo major renovations that will convert the massive globe-shaped structure it now occupies into one that resembles a planetary observatory (looking for a different type of stars, perhaps?). The Boathouse will be built in a space on the lagoon next to Fulton’s Crab House, the faux paddle-wheeler, and Portobello, the Italian eatery. Both of those restaurants, owned by Levy Restaurants out of Chicago, are expected to remain as is. Paradiso 37 is also expected to remain.
The significance of Morimoto, STK and the Edison is that they are upscale and critically acclaimed restaurants. The addition of them to Central Florida is akin to the restaurants that turned Las Vegas into a culinary destination. The Edison, by the way, looks to be a perfect fit for WDW, based on the restaurant’s website.
All of this, of course, is subject to change. Lease agreement and partnership arrangements with Walt Disney World are possible obstacles.