The ever-so-popular Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort is expanding! Let’s dig into what we know about the additions coming to “The Most Magical Place on Earth.”
Over ten years ago, Magic Kingdom Park saw its biggest expansion ever when “New Fantasyland” opened in 2012. Fast forward a decade later. During the 2022 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Disney executives revealed Magic Kingdom would be experiencing another expansion.
As Disney executives announce “dream big” and “what if” plans for Magic Kingdom, let’s break down what we know about this Magic Kingdom expansion thus far.
What’s Beyond Big Thunder Mountain Railroad?
Where is Magic Kingdom planning to expand? The Disney Park’s expansion would take Guests beyond the towering spires of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad located in the Frontierland portion of the Park. There is available space behind the fan-favorite roller coaster that is apparently earmarked for the next big Magic Kingdom expansion.
Coco Valley and Attraction
As Guests travel beyond Big Thunder Mountain, they will first come to a valley, home to the little town of Santa Cecilia, the setting for Disney’s animated film Coco (2017). The Coco-inspired land will be a constant celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with bright, colorful, Coco-inspired papel picado flags draped from one side of the path to the other.
While the valley sounds stunning, the excitement is the talk of a new Coco attraction that will allow Guests to fly on the back of colorful spirit animals named Alebrijes as Guests soar over the Land of the Dead. Our minds quickly go to a possible similar experience as flying on the back of a Banshee with Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
What if we DO want to talk about Bruno? We’ve slowly seen Disney’s animated film Encanto (2021) seep into the Parks with special projections and character meet and greets. But now, Disney executives are talking about Encanto having a much bigger role at Magic Kingdom.
Just beyond the Coco addition, Disney animation will come to life with the stunning Madrigal family’s Casita open for Guests to explore. Mirabel will be the guide, introducing Guests to the family and sharing all the wonderful details of what’s hidden behind the walls of the beloved Casita, including Bruno’s tower and Antonio’s room. Additionally, Disney shared the thought of “what if” Guests could step up to a door to discover their own magical gift.
That’s right… Magic Kingdom is getting an area overrun by Disney Villains! While the Disney fandom has been dreaming that Disney would add a Villains Park or Villains-inspired land, it looks like it is in the works at Magic Kingdom. That said – Josh D’Amaro, Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, made it very clear that this addition is not planned to be available “anytime soon.”
Welcome to Magic Kingdom, Maleficient! The well-known evil villain from Sleeping Beauty (1959) has been revealed as the likely star of the Villains’ addition at Magic Kingdom, which, as you’ll see in the concept art below, will loom in the distance beyond the Coco valley and Encanto’s Casa Madrigal.
While Disney provided more details on Coco and Encanto additions, the Villains portion of the plan was vague, leaving fans to wonder if the space will have an attraction, restaurant, or more. Many fans hope Disney will take the opportunity to use the Villains theme to provide a thrilling roller coaster experience, such as the intense rollercoasters found at Universal Orland Resort.
Magic Kingdom Expansion Timeline
Disney reiterated that these plans for the new Magic Kingdom expansion are “what if” ideas “what COULD be on the horizon.” The plans lacked any discussion of timeline, with no news yet on when construction will begin or when Guests can expect to experience this expanded Magic Kingdom.
It may have only taken Walt Disney Imagineers four years to build Magic Kingdom before it first opened in 1971… but our minds immediately go to the five years it has taken Disney to build ONE Magic Kingdom attraction, TRON Lightcycle / Run in Tomorrowland. Will Disney learn from its slow construction mistakes? Will the removal of former Disney CEO Bob Chapek and the return of current Disney CEO Bob Iger help? Or will it be several more years before we experience the Coco, Encanto, and Villains additions?
Universal Expansion Is Already Happening
Additionally, Walt Disney World Resort’s top Central Florida competitor, Universal Orlando Resort, is expanding to the next level with an all-new, MASSIVE theme park called Epic Universe. Want to put Universal’s new Park into size perspective? Epic Universe will be 750 acres. Magic Kingdom Park is 107 acres; EPCOT is 300 acres; Disney’s Hollywood Studios is 135 acres; Disney’s Animal Kingdom is 580 acres. No Disney Park tops the size of the incoming Epic Universe.
With Epic Universal scheduled to arrive in the Summer of 2025, Disney may not have time to catch up to its competitor’s fast growth and desire to compete with Disney for week-long vacationers. The only new Magic Kingdom addition Disney will likely have open by 2025 is the rethemed Splash Mountain from its Song of the South (1946) theme to the new Tiana’a Bayou Adventure featuring The Princess and the Frog (2009).
Watch: Magic Kingdom Expansion Reveal
Want to hear from the Disney executives at D23? Below is a five-minute video of the Magic Kingdom expansion presentation Disney revealed in front of 7,000 Disney fans:
As we learn about what’s on the horizon for the Magic Kingdom expansion, we will keep Disney Dining readers updated. We’ll end it in the words of Walt Disney himself: “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”