Since 1988, the Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista has offered many accessible dining options right outside of the Disney Springs entrance of Walt Disney World. The plaza located on State Road 535 has been the home to 25 restaurants such as Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonalds, Taco Bell, TGI Fridays, Sweet Tomatoes, Moes, and many more which were frequented by locals, and especially students on the Disney College Program. The proximity to Disney of these restaurants also provided alternative dining options to guests who did not want to eat in the theme parks or at their Disney Resort.
After a historic negotiation and settlement, the area’s tenants have left the plaza and it is now officially closed to make way for the expansion of I-4.
Earlier this year, the State of Florida finalized a deal with Disney that has been in the works since 2019. This $198 million agreement is the largest eminent domain settlement in Florida’s history to date. Eminent domain refers to the concept that it is within the right of the US government, states, and municipalities to take private property for public use as long as fair compensation is exchanged.
In this case, the Florida Department of Transportation acquired the Crossroads Shopping Plaza from Disney as part of the I-4 Beyond Ultimate Project. This project is aimed at creating tremendous transformations to 40 miles of Central Florida’s most important interstate. These transformations have included adding express lanes, right side exits, overpasses, and pedestrian bridges.
The plan for the Crossroads in this project is to build a new interchange for I-4. Exit 68, near this area, is often subject to congestion throughout the day. The new interchange that is going in place of the plaza will aim to manage the traffic nearby by including a direct route from the highway to Disney World. The exiting loop will go over the old Crossroads Plaza and give drivers a direct route to Disney Springs!
The 25 Tenants Of The Crossroads
Typically with eminent domain tenants are given just a few months to vacate the area. Because the specifics of the crossroads agreement took a few years to finalize, the restaurants were given more time to continue business prior to officially closing. This has allowed these locations a smoother transition to closing their doors for the new interstate expansion.
Restaurants at the Crossroads plaza were given an August 31st deadline once the settlement was finalized. Additionally, $39 million dollars of the agreement are to be paid out to the businesses of the shopping plaza with the largest going to Gooding’s Supermarkets at $15.7 million.
The Official End Of Crossroads
At the end of August, the Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista officially closed their doors. It is expected that the demolition of the area will begin within the next two months. The site restoration for the new I-4 interchange should take approximately six months.
With the Crossroads plaza closing, guests and locals can easily turn to the dining options at Disney Springs which is very close by. Quick service locations at Disney Springs, such as Chicken Guy, D Luxe, Earl of Sandwich, and Blaze Pizza are all good alternatives to the options that were once available at the Crossroads Plaza.