Disney has announced plans for a major overhaul of the Downtown Disney area at its flagship Florida theme park.

The entertainment giant confirmed November 18 that it would construct a new waterfront called Hyperion Wharf at Downtown Disney, which is part of the Walt Disney World Resort in the US, the largest and most visited theme park in the world.

The new wharf will replace the Pleasure Island area, which was designed to hold nightclubs for adult visitors but has been partially empty since Disney closed the clubs in 2008.

Posting on the official Disney Parks blog, Disney's Thomas Smith said that Hyperion Wharf will be a "nostalgic yet modern take on an early 20th century port city and amusement pier."

When it opens in 2013 it will feature boutiques, more restaurants and a lakeside park, as well as thousands of lights to create "an electric wonderland."

Pleasure Island is one of three distinct zones within Downtown Disney, a 120-acre complex which also offers the West Side entertainment section and the Marketplace retail area.

Although the area was popular when it first opened in the late 1980s, it came to be seen as out of touch with the rest of the resort, despite the continued support of fan groups aiming to keep the adults' section open.

Comments on the blog are varied in tone, with one Paradise Island fan saying "I don't know if I can even stand to look at this place when it opens."

Other projects at Downtown Disney will see an extensive expansion of the Lego Imagination Centre, upgrades to the area's cinemas and several new or renovated shops.

Walt Disney World is the most visited theme park on the planet, with four of its constituent theme parks holding their own spots in the global top ten - including top spot for the Magic Kingdom.

Disney parks around the world welcomed 119.1 million visitors last year, pushing Merlin Entertainment Group parks, which owns Legoland, Italy's Gardaland and British theme parks Thorpe Park and Alton Towers, into a distant second place.