Universal to Overtake Disney Parks After Josh D’Amaro Disappoints U.S. Fans

in Walt Disney World

Josh D'Amaro in front of United States of America flag, with Sleeping Beauty Castle (L) and Cinderella Castle (R)

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairperson Josh D’Amaro recently spoke about a topic close to many, and his answer may see Comcast’s Universal Destinations and Experiences overtake Disney Resorts as the industry leader. The exec talks about Disney Parks expansion projects, and it’s not good.

Prince Charming's Regal Carrousel lit up at dusk by Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney

The Disney Parks empire has been under attack of late, thanks to Florida state Governor Ron DeSantis’s assassination of Walt Disney World Resort’s power over its own operation. No one really expected Disney’s support of the LGBTQIAP+ community last year to cause such a turbulent war waged on the homefront, but alas, here we are.

In a period of political and cultural turmoil, where the word “woke” is being thrown around left and right, DeSantis wants to catch the Mouse in his trap, but Disney isn’t backing down. The Walt Disney Company has officially sued DeSantis, with the Florida Governor countersuing, and now the lawsuit is in a realm of sticky legislature; with DeSantis’s 2024 presidential run coming soon, too, the legal battle between the pair could make or break the once-favorite for the Republican Party nomination.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis giving a conference in front of the United States flag
Credit: CBS News

Amid the fallout, which reached new heights when DeSantis officially signed away Disney’s power of its historic Reedy Creek Improvement District (now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District), multiple other states in North America offered asylum for Disney World. From California to North Carolina, Texas to South Carolina, officials welcomed Disney World to move into their homes.

But, for now, it seems that Disney World is staying put in its home of Florida — a home it has had for the last 52 years.

However, many Disney fans are wondering if the House of Mouse would ever break the East and West Coast model and open any other U.S. theme parks in the country. The resurgence of this discussion was prompted in early 2023 when Universal Destinations and Experiences surprised fans by announcing two new locations coming to the United States.

Concept art for an all-new Universal theme park planned to open in Frisco, Texas
Credit: Universal

First, a new theme park experience will open in Frisco, Texas, and then an all-year-round horror destination, something akin to its industry-leading Halloween Horror Nights, will arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada. Upon the announcement, many theme park fans felt Universal was having its 1990s Michael Eisner moment, where during his tenure as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, he spearheaded massive expansions in the U.S. and across the world.

So, will Disney Parks spread its wings out of Florida and California, where Disneyland Resort resides in Anaheim, and enter the small park business in other parts of the country?

Unfortunately, Josh D’Amaro says no.

Josh D'Amaro claps next to Mickey Mouse
Credit: Disney

Related: FBI Officially Intervened In Disney’s Moving “Plans,” New State Home Blocked With Federal Charges

Disney Parks expansion outside of Florida and California

Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Conference, D’Amaro was asked about Disney’s stance on smaller projects like what Universal announced for Texas and Nevada. The Disney executive responded:

“We think that focusing on our core assets is where we should be spending most of our opportunity, and as I said earlier, we think that there is so much potential there that’s where we’re continuing to focus our efforts.”

While Disney may have pulled the plug on its expensive Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser and canceled its billion-dollar Lake Nona relocation project, those core assets are quite clearly Disneyland and Disney World, as well as the other Parks like Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disney Resort, spread worldwide.

Guests on the Galactic Starcruiser
Credit: Disney

Disney World is still getting a massive financial investment, signaling that some of those “blue sky” projects revealed at D23 Expo 2022 may come to fruition. Then there’s the notion of a fifth theme park in Orlando, with whispers once again beginning over its rumored announcement.

As for Disneyland, the original Disney Park is soon to receive an Avatar-themed expansion, whether that is a single attraction or something similar to the World of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As for Paris, the Disney Park is heavily underway with its Walt Disney Studios Park expansion, which brings Frozen to the Park in a big way, and Tokyo Disney Resort is developing its new Fantasy Springs land at Tokyo DisneySea.

Rapunzel's Forest at night at Tokyo Disney Resort's Fantasy Springs
Credit: Disney

Related: Josh D’Amaro Promises To Make It Easier To Visit Disney World

A lot is afoot at the current Disney Parks, and it would seem that the Mouse House is keeping its cash close to its chest, developing and improving what it already has instead of branching out to new locations. Still, this will be a blow to those outside of California and Florida. As prices soar for vacations to the popular Resorts and the experience becomes more difficult to navigate with the likes of Genie+ and Park Passes, and Park Hopping, a potential smaller park closer to home may have been the thing that keeps fans engaged with the brand long term.

For now, though, that won’t be happening.

Would you have liked to see a Disney Parks expansion in the United States? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

in Walt Disney World

View Comments (15)