More Than One Classic Disney Attraction is at Risk For Demolition to Make Room for New Expansion

Magic kingdom closures
Credit: Disney

Disney World has a problem. As far as problems go, it’s not a bad problem to have: they have more demand than they do supply. This people problem is a real conundrum for the company, though. They’ve really only got three options: raise prices to decrease demand, open the floodgates and let everyone in, sacrifice the product that has created the demand in the first place or find a way to increase the supply.


Credit: DisneyDining

Disney’s Supply and Demand Problem 

If they simply open the floodgates they solve the demand problem, but only temporarily. Magic Kingdom is the most popular (and most visited) theme park in the world. To open the gates to anyone willing to pay admission would create wall to wall people and entire days would be spent on one or two rides. Guests would be miserable (imagine Christmas day crowds all year long). They wouldn’t have a supply and demand problem for very long because people would stop going.

Alternatively, they could do it the “Bob Chapek Way” and just keep raising prices until people simply can’t afford to attend. This is just a bad strategy all the way around though. It hurts the bottom line and it hurts the guest experience. Prices already stress most families’ budgets to the limit, any more would create a net loss for the company. Since Disney is in the business of making money this plan is a nonstarter.

The Solution

Increasing supply is the only thing they can do. Building is the only way to increase supply and a fifth theme park doesn’t seem to be in the cards. This means for the first time ever, Disney faces a Universal problem: to add means to take away. During the Parks and Experiences Panel at D23, Josh D’Amaro teased that Magic Kingdom will be getting at least one new themed land. If you’re like me, your first question was, “Where!?” There are very few spaces to put a new themed land and the space D’Amaro teased (behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad) is small. The big plans D’Amaro teased won’t fit in that space, unless…

Splash Mountain

Credit: Jill Bivins

The closing of Splash Mountain means that nothing is sacred. There isn’t a ride or attraction at Disney that’s “safe.” Disney had plans to retheme the attraction long before petitions started circling the internet. They will close anything they need to in order to fill supply and demands while remaining profitable. If the only available space for expansion is next to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and that space is too small Disney can and will create more space by any means necessary.

Classics on the Chopping Block

The Street described the area’s space issues perfectly saying, “Big Thunder Mountain is surrounded by its queue to the south, the Walt Disney World Railroad tracks to its west, and the Rivers of America to the north and east,” they wrote, “There is some available space north of the Rivers, but how would guests access that? There’s no space for them to walk around Thunder on the right, and backstage facilities, including Thunder’s roundhouse, push up against the coaster on the left.”

Big Thunder Disney World

Credit: Disney

This means the classic coaster may be at risk. It would make sense. Big Thunder is creating the space issue so Big Thunder is what needs to go. It would create the least disruption and allow for the planned expansions to continue. That would, however, be the final nail in the coffin for Frontierland. The Country Bear Jamboree alone cannot sustain a themed land. This opens the area to the north and all of Frontierland. It’s a viable, if not palatable, solution. Especially since Tiana’s Bayou Adventure doesn’t fit the Frontierland theme.

There is another possibility, though, that The Street claims to have insider knowledge of. Rather than closing a whole land for the expansion, they could close just one ride and gain a massive amount of land. The Liberty Square Riverboat. The Street’s insider claims, “Sources have told me that Walt Disney Imagineering is actively considering it now…Disney could fill in the Rivers of America.”

Liberty belle

Credit: Disney Dining

It makes sense. The river takes up an enormous amount of land. And as The Street pointed out, there is a precedent for it. The Lagoon where 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea once occupied was filled in to create “New Fantasyland.” This would also mean getting rid of Tom Sawyer Island which as you know, would break my heart. “This is the nuclear option for Magic Kingdom development — one that would require the reimagining of nearly half of the world’s most popular theme park. But the nuclear option might be the only option remaining for Imagineers as they consider how to expand,” the report said.

Tom Sawyer Island

Credit: Disney

While none of this has been confirmed, we hate to admit it, but it makes a lot of sense. D’Amaro floated the idea of not one but three new themed lands, including one based on villains and one based on Encanto. Currently the space doesn’t have enough room for one expansion, let alone three. As always, stay tuned right here. We’re keeping a close eye on the situation and will update you with any new developments.

About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.