Disney World Ditches Orlando: New Theme Park Location Revealed

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The image features a composite of two landmarks: on the left, Cinderella Castle at Disney World in Orlando during twilight, and on the right, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge illuminated at night, reflected in the water.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Rumors and reports have been swirling for months when it comes to Disney’s next expansion, and now, we have more details about the magical theme park that may emerge from “Down Under”.

A crowd of people gather around the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World. The castle is adorned in blue and gold spires, while the people wear various casual outfits, enjoying the lively atmosphere of the park.
Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

While Walt Disney envisioned Disneyland as an ever-evolving haven of imagination, even he couldn’t have predicted the global phenomenon that The Walt Disney Company would become. Though Disneyland has seen significant growth, with recent additions like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the creation of Disney California Adventure, there’s a clear intention for further expansion.

This commitment to growth is evident in Disney’s recent announcement. As the company 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 a portion of this investment will support Disney Cruise Line, a significant focus will be placed on park growth and development to increase capacity.

“We’re incredibly mindful of the financial underpinning of the company,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “The need to continue to grow in terms of bottom line, the need to invest wisely so that we’re increasing the returns on invested capital, and the need to maintain a healthy balance sheet are all crucial aspects for a variety of reasons.”

“However, the company is confident in its ability to absorb these costs while continuing to grow profitability and explore innovative ways to return value and capital to our shareholders.”

Bob Iger presenting at the D23 Expo 2019
Credit: Nagi Usano, Flickr

Sharing Disney’s vision for the future, Josh D’Amaro, Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, emphasized the vast potential for storytelling across their parks.

D’Amaro stated, “We have a wealth of untapped stories to bring to life across our business. 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 in our parks. The world of Coco is just waiting to be explored. There’s a lot of storytelling opportunity.”

Further fueling the excitement for upcoming expansions, Bob Iger recently confirmed the arrival of a new Avatar land at Disneyland Resort. Moreover, he hinted at the resort’s potential to accommodate not just one, but seven additional themed lands, leaving fans eager to see Disney’s vision unfold.

With $60 billion being poured into the theme parks, many have been wondering if more theme parks will be built, especially with the expansions that we are seeing within the Universal theme parks, with Epic Universe competing against Walt Disney World, the new Universal theme park being developed in the U.K, Universal Kids being built in Texas, and Universal Horror Unleashed being created in Las Vegas as a permanent horror experience.

Mickey Mouse holding an Australian flag in front of a fairytale castle at Disneyland.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Fueled by a recent announcement in September to significantly boost investment in Parks and Experiences, The Walt Disney Company is reportedly considering various locations for potential park developments. This expansion seeks to nearly double capital expenditures over a decade, reaching a staggering US$60 billion (approximately AU$90 billion).

While initial reports indicated investments would focus on existing attractions across Asia, Europe, and North America, utilizing 1,000 acres of existing land, Werribee, a Melbourne suburb, emerged as a possible contender for a new theme park. However, Wyndham City Council swiftly dismissed any such plans, stating they had not been contacted regarding a “Disney-style” park within their municipality.

This development was followed by a counterpoint from David Limbrick, an upper house MP. Citing “exhaustive research” into potential southern hemisphere locations for a Disney theme park, Mr. Limbrick narrowed down his shortlist to three potential sites.

Daily Mail shared David Limbrick’s location choices:

“They are so good I cannot easily split them. To prove it is a small world after all, it turns out the best locations are in my electorate,’ he said. ‘Unlike in other parts of Melbourne, Disney would be welcomed with open arms in south east Melbourne. We have tens of thousands of families with kids who are looking for things to do and a great workforce who would love to live and work close to home.

“This is the only logical place for the happiest place on Earth,” Limbrick said.”

While the prospect of a Disney theme park coming to Melbourne has sparked excitement, local experts offer a more nuanced perspective. Acting Mayor Nicholas Reece publicly stated on Tuesday that “if Disneyland was going to go anywhere, it makes sense for it to be somewhere in greater Melbourne.” However, significant hurdles may stand in the way of this possibility.

Dr. Jessica Pallant, a marketing lecturer at RMIT University, believes a Disney theme park in Melbourne is “unlikely” in the near future.

“As much as it would be a draw,” she acknowledges, “there are substantial challenges to overcome.” Dr. Pallant points to the strategic location of existing Disney parks outside the US, situated in major tourist hubs like Paris and Hong Kong. Melbourne, she argues, lacks the same level of global tourist traffic to justify such a park.

“Geographically, we’re simply too far,” she adds, “and the current population density might not be enough to sustain it without a significant tourism influx.”

soarin
Credit: Disney

Furthermore, Dr. Pallant questions the availability of suitable land within the Melbourne metropolitan area capable of accommodating a large-scale Disney park.

Adding to the skepticism, a tourism industry insider anonymously expressed the “high unlikelihood” of the state government offering the financial incentives typically demanded by Disney for such projects.

Despite these challenges, Dr. Pallant acknowledges the persistent allure of a Disney park in Melbourne. “Rumors will likely continue,” she predicts, “as Disney is unlikely to actively dispel them.” “The idea of Disney magic in Melbourne is undoubtedly aspirational,” she concludes.

While the immediate prospects may be uncertain, the discussion highlights the potential economic benefits and complexities associated with such a large-scale development.

However, the question arises: is Australia also a hotspot for theme parks?

The answer is nuanced. While Australia might not yet rival giants like the United States or Orlando, Florida, it boasts a growing theme park scene, particularly concentrated on the east coast. These parks offer a unique blend of international franchises and experiences celebrating Australian culture.

Here’s a breakdown of some of Australia’s most popular theme parks:

The Gold Coast, in Queensland, is undoubtedly the heart of Australia’s theme park scene. This sunny region boasts several world-class parks catering to diverse preferences:

  • Dreamworld: Australia’s largest theme park, Dreamworld offers a thrilling mix. Adrenaline junkies can conquer the heart-stopping Giant Drop and Tower of Terror II, while families can enjoy the scenic Dreamworld Express or encounter cuddly koalas in dedicated animal exhibits.
  • Warner Bros. Movie World: Movie buffs can step into their favorite Warner Bros. franchises. Take a daring flight with Superman, join Scooby-Doo and the gang for a spooky adventure, or be entertained by the classic antics of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes crew.
  • Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast: Escape the heat with a refreshing splash at Wet’n’Wild. This water park features heart-pounding slides like the Tornado and AquaLoop for adrenaline seekers, alongside relaxing options like the lazy river and the family-friendly Massive Blast.
  • SeaWorld: Immerse yourself in the wonders of the ocean realm at Sea World. Witness awe-inspiring shows featuring dolphins, whales, and seals. Learn about vital marine conservation efforts and explore interactive exhibits showcasing the wonders of the underwater world.
  • WhiteWater World: Another water park paradise, WhiteWater World offers thrilling slides, pools, and attractions. Take a daring plunge on the Wedgie, experience the weightlessness of the Green Room, or test your teamwork skills on the Wipeout.
The gate for Warner Bros. Movie World blocked off by dozens of iconic WC characters
Credit: Warner Bros. Movie World

While the Gold Coast takes center stage, Australia offers theme park experiences elsewhere:

  • Aussie World (Sunshine Coast): This Sunshine Coast park offers a mix of rides, shows, and wildlife encounters. Take a flight on the Aussie World Pterodactyl Flyer, experience the rush of the Dingo Dash coaster, or learn about fascinating native Australian animals at the Australian Wildlife Experience.
  • Luna Park Sydney & Luna Park Melbourne: Offering a classic amusement park experience, Luna Parks in Sydney and Melbourne feature iconic rides like Ferris wheels, Wild Mouse roller coasters, and spooky Ghost Trains. These parks are ideal for a nostalgic family outing.

The Australian theme park scene is experiencing growth, with existing parks expanding and new developments on the horizon. While competition from established giants like Orlando remains, Australia’s unique blend of international franchises and local experiences positions it as a rising star in the theme park world.

Where would you like to see Disney expand in the world? 

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