Court Decision Delays Disney World’s Expansion Plans

in Disney, Disney Parks, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

A picturesque view of a fairy tale Cinderella Castle with spires, under a clear blue sky with the sun setting behind, casting a warm glow over the scene at Walt Disney World Resort.

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company has some big plans for its Florida theme parks. Disney has already started working on expansion plans for the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and ride updates at EPCOT.

An aerial shot of Disney's Animal Kingdom Park with art representing the expansion proposal.
Collage by Inside the Magic

But before a shovel is put in the ground at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney has to get approval from local and state governments, and that process just got more complicated.

Earlier this year, Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Randolph Moss overturned an action taken by the Environmental Protection Agency near the end of former President Donald Trump’s term. In January 2021, the EPA allowed Florida to take over the permitting process for wetlands in the state from the Army Corp of Engineers.

It was an unprecedented move that gave the state power that once belonged to the Federal government through the Clean Water Act, and the state proved to be much more lenient in the approval process.

EPCOT
Credit: Inside the Magic (Luke D.)

Despite returning things to how they were before 2021, this ruling has thrown the building process into disarray in the state. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said this has “brought new construction in the state to a grinding halt,” and he estimates that 1,600 permits are awaiting approval.

Patronis said: 

Now, construction projects across the state have come to a grinding halt and placed many of our business owners and their employees in financial straits. I’m appalled that one person in a robe judging from their bench all the way in Washington has been allowed to shut down many of our state’s economic development projects.

He urges Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to work with Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to create federal legislation to address this issue. However, that could take years.

Earthjustice and six other environmental groups brought the case against the rule change. Their concern was the destruction of the habitat of the endangered Florida Panther.

Tree of Life on Discovery Island at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

This delay in the construction process especially hurts Walt Disney World. While already approved projects can continue, this could delay projects that haven’t broken ground yet.

So, for Disney World, while Universal Studios Orlando can continue working and finish Epic Universe, Disney could have to wait to break ground on its much anticipated Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom expansion projects.

Any delay in the projects at Walt Disney World will further infuriate fans who have been desperately searching for news of anything coming to Disney World. However, this time, the delays are out of Disney’s hands.

An aerial view of a cityscape with a Disney Imagineer holding blueprints, wearing a hard hat, suggesting they are planning or overseeing construction or development at Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

With Disney’s feud with Gov Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District over, Disney World shouldn’t have problems getting permits within the former Reedy Creek District. However, if Disney needs to use wetlands for their expansion projects, this ruling could force smaller expansions at a Disney Park.

With this ruling, Disney fans will have to wait to see the expansion plans for the company’s Central Florida theme parks.

How do you feel about potential delays to Disney’s theme park expansion plans? 

in Disney, Disney Parks, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

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