When it was announced a couple of weeks ago that the Walt Disney Company decided to cancel its Lake Nona project (a campus that would have relocated much of its staff from California to Florida), many were shocked. Josh D’Amaro has stated that the political battles between the company and the Florida government have not affected their plans to invest money into their Walt Disney World Resort parks and hotels.
Considering the Lake Nona Campus Disney was planning to build was estimated to cost around $1 billion, one may wonder, what could Disney do with the money they are no longer spending on that project? Could they take that $1 billion and create a 5th gate at Walt Disney World?
For years talk of a new Disney theme Park has been on the lips of Cast Members, Guests, and executives alike. Yet little has materialized. It has been 25 years since Walt Disney World introduced a new theme Park with Animal Kingdom in 1998. And a lot has changed since then.
We have seen four new additions to the Hall of Presidents, over five new Disney princesses, the birth of Disney+, and the company’s acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and 20th Century Fox properties.
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Despite the variety of attractions available throughout the four Florida theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), there should always be room for more. If the decision was made to pursue a fifth gate in Florida—especially with Epic Universal opening in 2025, which direction could Disney explore?
Consistently rated as the number one Disney Park in the world is Tokyo’s DisneySea. This unique Park beautifully integrates a nautical motif that effortlessly links multiple Disney properties. Its seven themed areas include Mediterranean Harbor, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Lost River Delta, Arabian Coast, Mermaid Lagoon, and Mysterious Island.
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Although many of the Park’s sections contain Disney attractions already found in Orlando, such as the Tower of Terror, Soarin’, and Toy Story Mania, they also encompass unique experiences that would be more than welcome in central Florida, such as an Indiana Jones-themed roller coaster, a Journey to the Center of the Earth thrill ride, and a 3D-film starring The Genie.
It would also be difficult to speculate on a new Disney theme Park without addressing Disney’s America. Although the proposed Park was canceled in the early 1990s, much of its layout and attractions could be developed today for Guests hungering for something new. The Park was slated to be themed around American culture and history (picture a thoroughly flushed-out version of The American Adventure at EPCOT or Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom). It was to feature nine immersive areas that included attractions such as a roller coaster-type ride themed after the industrial revolution, a white-water raft inspired by the Lewis and Clark expedition, and a State Fair area featuring Coney Island-themed rides.
There have also always been rumors about a villain-themed Park opening in Disney World. Although these rumors have taken various names and forms over the years Disney has never confirmed such a project. But many wonder if we could someday see a Villain Mountain roller coaster or a return of the canceled attractions once considered too dark for Disney (Snow White’s Scary Adventures and ExtraTERRORestial Alien Encounter)?
Disney has reasons to pull the brakes on more ambitious plans due to the current economic concerns and recent layoffs. But $1 billion extra can do a lot. It’s the estimated cost that Universal is spending to build Epic Universe. So if Universal can do it, why can’t Disney?