CEO Bob Iger Approves Controversial 2024 Disney Parks Expansion

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

A large crowd of people gather at night in front of a brightly illuminated castle at a theme park. The scene is lively with the buildings on either side adorned with lights. The castle is glowing in blue, creating a magical atmosphere, hinting at the excitement for the upcoming Disney Parks Expansion in 2024.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney has finally confirmed what expansions will be coming in 2024.

A busy street filled with people walking and sitting, surrounded by buildings with colorful decorations. The area has a festive atmosphere, with trees lining the street and small flags flying atop the buildings. The sky is overcast.
Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

Walt Disney World Resort, established in 1971, remains a leader in the theme park industry. Following the success of Disneyland in 1955, Walt Disney World solidified Disney’s reputation for excellence in attraction development and immersive theming.

Encompassing four theme parks, two water parks, and a variety of resort hotels, Disney World offers a sprawling vacation destination. Its sheer size, comparable to San Francisco, attracts millions of visitors annually. Notably, Cinderella Castle holds the distinction of being the most photographed landmark globally.

Given its status as a mega-vacation destination, many anticipate significant expansion initiatives at Walt Disney World. Currently, EPCOT is undergoing renovations across various sections, including World Celebration, World Discovery, and the reimagined World Nature (formerly Future World), which features the new “Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana” attraction. Magic Kingdom recently unveiled “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure,” but larger-scale expansions remain unconfirmed.

View of the entrance to Disney World, featuring a railway station in the background, bustling with visitors under a cloudy sky.
Credit: Frank Phillips, Flickr

Discussions surrounding a potential “Beyond Big Thunder” expansion in Magic Kingdom first emerged during the 2022 D23 Expo. Concept art showcased various possibilities, including a villain-themed “Dark Kingdom.” However, these concepts remain in the early brainstorming phase.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, established in 1998, stands as their most recent new park. In contrast, competitor Universal Orlando Resort has continued park development, opening Islands of Adventure in 1999 and preparing for the launch of their third park, Epic Universe, in 2025.

Universal’s expansion efforts have placed Disney’s future plans under scrutiny. The introduction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando was met by Disney’s subsequent unveiling of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Industry observers are now curious about Disney’s next move to maintain its competitive edge.

During the Walt Disney Company’s Q1 2024 financial results conference call, CEO Bob Iger addressed inquiries regarding potential park expansions at Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney has previously announced a $60 billion investment in park expansion over the next decade, with 70% of these additions planned for completion within the next 10 years. This expansion will encompass various facets of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products segment, including Disney Cruise Line (such as the Disney Treasure and Lighthouse Point, which will open on June 6, adding to Disney’s private island list of Castaway Cay).

New offerings are expected to be rolled out annually, commencing in 2025.

The Disney Dream sails in the ocean.
Credit: Disney

While CEO Iger declined to provide a specific timeline for these developments, he did not rule out the potential announcement of a fifth gate at Walt Disney World. While such major projects typically require years of planning, similar to Universal’s 2019 announcement of Epic Universe slated for a 2025 opening, Iger left the door open for further park expansion beyond Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Now, The Walt Disney Company has released an official blog on what is to come in 2024.

Walt Disney World Resort is gearing up for a spectacular summer filled with dazzling entertainment, thrilling attractions, and delicious treats. Get ready to experience the return of iconic shows, the grand opening of a reimagined favorite, and the completion of a transformative project at EPCOT.

Disneyland Resort fans can rejoice as the beloved nighttime spectacular Fantasmic! makes its grand return on May 24th after Maleficent tragically burned during a performance months ago.

Over at Magic Kingdom, excitement builds for the highly anticipated opening of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure on June 28th. This reimagined version of the classic Splash Mountain promises a thrilling and immersive journey inspired by the beloved Disney film The Princess and the Frog. Additionally, Frontierland’s Country Bear Jamboree is getting a refresh and is expected to reopen sometime this summer, welcoming guests once again to enjoy this classic musical experience.

A log flume ride under testing, featuring empty log-shaped boats on a water track, with a sign stating "sorry, friends, we are ride testing only. opening this summer!" in a lush, green park setting.
Credit: Inside the Magic

The transformative project at EPCOT is nearing completion, and the grand opening of the CommuniCore Hall will be on June 10th. This exciting new space will be the heart of the park’s transformation. Guests can enjoy the limited-time “Celebracion Encanto” show, meet their favorite Mickey & Friends characters, and gear up for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which kicks off on August 29th.

For those seeking spooky thrills, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party returns from August 9th to October 31st, offering families a frightfully fun celebration.

While it is far away from the American parks, Tokyo Disney Resort will soon open on June 6 with new Frozen, Tangled, Peter Pan, and Tinker Bell attractions.

A couple sits in a rowboat on a lake, surrounded by floating lanterns in the night sky. Ships with glowing sails and a stone lighthouse illuminate the background. The scene exudes a magical atmosphere, reminiscent of a fairy tale or fantasy setting.
Credit: Disney

When it comes to beyond 2024, Disney had this to say, “There’s also fresh expansions coming to the Magic Kingdom, exploring the Tropical Americas at Animal Kingdom, more cruise ships with their own unique themes, an ongoing effort to reimagined Disneyland Paris, a newly rebuilt Space Mountain at Tokyo Disney Resort in 2027, and much more.”

While it is not confirmed, rumors suggest that the Tropical Americas expansion will have Coco, Encanto, and Indiana Jones IP involved. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently confirmed Disney would be moving in the direction of new IP only, so these options would be tracked, as they are all still relevant and popular within the Disney community.

Do you plan on visiting the Disney parks this summer? 

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