New Disney Budget Plan Confirms 30 Theme Park Expansion Possibility

in Disney Parks

disney parks expansion

Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

Disney’s new budget could account for up to 30 new theme parks — and expansions start next year. 

Walt Disney World is gearing up for significant growth with the confirmation of its “largest expansion ever” at Magic Kingdom park. While specific details are still under wraps, Disney intends to extend the park beyond the current Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction, creating a new space comparable in size to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, spanning 14 acres.

A bustling night-time scene at a theme park with visitors strolling down the main street, lit by the glow of ambient lighting, with a fairy tale castle illuminated in the background, creating a magical atmosphere.
Credit: Inside the Magic

“It’s probably the largest expansion ever at Magic Kingdom,” Disney’s Michael Hundgen said, as reported by CNN.

Crucially, Disney has yet to reveal the theme of the upcoming area or provide details on when construction might begin. Dubbed “Beyond Big Thunder,” the expansion is currently in development, with Disney reportedly in the process of obtaining permits to initiate the project. There are rumors that a villain expansion could take place in the area as a Dark Kingdom, based on previously shown concept art at D23, but those have not yet been confirmed.

This is a small portion of what is to come with the massive theme park expansion plan that Disney CEO Bob Iger has placed for the Disney parks and experiences sector. The plan has a $60 billion budget and will be used over the next 10 years. Right now, we only know small areas where these in-park expansions will take place, like Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but where is the full $60 billion going?

The Walt Disney World Railroad boarding station near the entrance of Magic Kingdom on Main Street, U.S.A., during a cloudy day with guests and security cast members.
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

When asked for more details about the expansion, Iger chose not to elaborate further.

“We disclose these at a cadence and when we really feel we’re ready, and we have something more tangible to show people,” he said, according to Deadline.

What we do know is that only 50% will be allocated to parks and resorts.

As we previously shared, “in a new filing, Disney provided additional information about the company’s planned 10-year, $60 billion investment in the Experiences segment. A new breakdown of the plan shows 50% at Parks/Resorts, 20% Cruise/Other, and 30% on Tech and Maintenance.”

This means that there will be $30 billion going toward new theme park developments, which is a lot less than previously advertised, but still a lot of money to play with.

There have been tons of rumors and speculation about Disney expanding their theme parks by adding a fifth gate in Orlando to combat the new theme park Epic Universe that Universal Orlando Resort has, as well as another park in Anaheim, depending on the result of DisneylandForward. Bob Iger has even mentioned further European expansions, which could mean even more theme park developments.

So, how much does a theme park cost to build?

Looking in Orlando, Disney’s Animal Kingdom was the most recent park that they had built, and it came in just shy of $1 billion dollars. Epic Universe had a $1 billion budget as well; it has gone over that budget, but we can see that there is a general idea of around $1 billion as the cost to build a new theme park from scratch.

Entrance sign of Magic Kingdom
Credit: Theme Park Tourist, Flickr

Seeing that Disney has $30 billion to play with, and their overall goal is to expand capacity at their theme parks in the next 10 years, we can see there is clearly enough money in the budget for Disney to expand with 30 theme parks.

Granted, they are not going to do that, as we know that there are many other projects across all of Disney’s theme parks that are being developed — but even with those in-park expansions, there will still be more room in the budget to dedicate a few billion to that growth.

During the recent shareholder meeting, Iger did say that Disney did not have anything “tangible” to show in terms of where all of the expansion money was going to go, aside from debuting the first look at the new Avatar expansion in Disneyland, but we also know that Disney and DeSantis have finally come to a settlement which Iger deemed to be a win-win, as they could now move forward on plans that they have for Walt Disney World Resort — with all of these final pieces coming into play, something tangible may be coming soon.

In addition, we will likely not hear too many significant announcements until the D23 Expo in August, as there will be an entire-dedicated parks panel of announcements.

Mickey and friends inside of Disney's Animal Kingdom Park.
Credit: Inside the Magic

As Disney recently stated, “The Walt Disney Company is developing plans to accelerate and expand investment in its Parks, Experiences, and Products segment to nearly double capital expenditures over the course of approximately 10 years to roughly $60 billion, including by investing in expanding and enhancing domestic and international parks and cruise line capacity.” While the amount is to be shared with Disney Cruise Line, it would still be heavily focused on park growth and development with the goal of increasing capacity.

“We’re incredibly mindful of the financial underpinning of the company, the need to continue to grow in terms of the bottom line, the need to invest wisely so that we’re increasing the returns on invested capital, and the need to maintain a balance sheet, for a variety of reasons,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “The company is able to absorb those costs and continue to grow the bottom line and look expansively at how we return value and capital to our shareholders.”

Spaceship Earth at EPCOT framed from the arch in the Japan Pavilion in World Showcase. At EPCOT in Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

“We have a wealth of untapped stories to bring to life across our business,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Frozen, one of the most successful and popular animated franchises of all time, could have a presence at the Disneyland Resort. Wakanda has yet to be brought to life. The world of Coco is just waiting to be explored. There’s a lot of storytelling opportunity.”

With so many stories still needing to be told and theme park space starting to fill up, a whole new park would give Disney the flexibility to expand how they would like while to, while having the allocated budget to do so.

Do you think that a new Disney park will be announced this year? 

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