Recent developments in the northern part of the Lone Star State seem to point to Disney’s potential plans to build its next theme park resort deep in the heart of Texas–and this time, it’s not just wishful thinking.
Things are growing and changing quickly in North Texas–and with such drive and ambition–that it’s easy to see–something big is on its way to the Lone Star State.
Something Big is Coming to Texas
That something might very well be a brand-new Disney theme park resort. Rumors of Disney building in Texas have swirled for years. Some, like Thomas Lucas, Jr., took things too far for his own benefit, swindling millions from unsuspecting investors by creating an elaborate hoax about Disney’s alleged plans to move to Texas.
From 2006 to 2010, Lucas took money from investors who thought they were buying up land in an area where Disney was looking to plant its next Disney World-style resort, but soon enough, his deception caught up to him, and he’s been in federal prison since 2015.
Others, like , Texas Judge K. P. George, have formally extended a friendly “Y’all come on” to Disney, welcoming Mickey to take up residence in the Lone Star State.
There are any number of reasons Texas–and specifically North Texas–is the perfect spot for Disney’s newest theme park resort, but in recent months, there are far more reasons for us to believe that prospect isn’t too far in the future.
Everything’s Bigger (and Getting Bigger) in Texas
If you’ve never stepped foot on Lone Star State soil, you might not realize all there is to the great state of Texas. It’s a big place, and that’s putting it mildly.
In 1976, Grammy Award-winning Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel released a song in which the lyricist writes that he “crossed that ol’ Red River,” and there he saw “miles and miles of Texas,” and he wasn’t joking. Texas spreads across more than 268,000 square miles, making it the largest of the lower 49 states and the second-largest state in the country by land mass.
It’s also the second-largest state by population. Across the state, there are more than 25 major metropolitan areas, including–in descending order–Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin, each of which has a population of between 2.2 million and 7.5 million. More than 30 million people call Texas home, and in recent years, the state has experienced exponential population growth.
Not to worry, though, as Texans are some of the friendliest Americans you’ll meet. Most have never met a stranger, and many will “bless your heart,” whether they know you or not.
They’re big on traditions, trucks, and tailgating, as well as their Blue Bell, Buc-ee’s and barbecue. And Texans love their Dallas Cowboys, winning or not. And speaking of football, Friday Night Lights are a real thing, as Friday evenings in the fall are for high school football, and two of those Texas teams rank among the top ten on the NFL’s High School Football America 100 list.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2023, Texas had seen an increase of 4.7%, or over 1.3 million people, since the 2020 census, and there doesn’t seem to be any end to that increase in sight.
Texas is a big state, and with more than 30 million residents, it’s definitely ripe for a groundbreaking by Disney Parks.
An Explosion of Growth in the Hotel & Hospitality Industry
Like the population, the hotel industry in North Texas is experiencing an explosion of growth, meaning visitors will have no issues finding available accommodations during their stay at a Disney theme park resort.
Per a column in The Dallas Morning News on January 23, 2024, the Dallas area currently leads the U.S. in the development of new hotel rooms. As of December 2023, more than 22,000 new rooms were already in the works. Lodging Econometrics, a hospitality industry analyst, says the Dallas area has broken a previously set record with 193 hotel projects and 22,291 hotel rooms currently in development. Of those projects, 14 were added to the roster in Q4 of 2023, totaling more than 1,700 hotel rooms.
Such a boom in hotel development means that Disney can build its newest theme park resort in North Texas, knowing that there’s plenty of room for Disney Parks fans to come and visit for a while in the Lone Star State. The recent boom also serves as a testimony to the confidence in the North Texas hospitality and tourism sector, making it a prime location for Disney’s new park.
Universal Has Already Broken Ground in North Texas
In early 2023, Universal Parks and Experiences–Disney’s #1 competitor–announced plans for a brand-new theme park resort in the North Texas city of Frisco. After several heated town hall meetings and a final vote by the Frisco City Council, those plans were approved, and Universal broke ground on its first Texas property in November 2023.
Per Universal, the new Texas theme park resort will include a 300-room hotel onsite and will focus on a family experience.
News of the North Texas Universal park came as construction was well underway on Universal Studios Orlando’s third main gate–Epic Universe. Universal Orlando’s third theme park is slated to open during the summer of 2025, and thanks to aerial photographer @bioreconstruct, fans have been able to watch the progress of the new park almost in real time.
Epic Universe Begins an Epic Battle in Central Florida
The new park is big and features various Universal-owned IPs–some that have yet to debut in a Universal theme park up to this point. Universal has also built two brand-new resort hotels at the Epic Universe location, taking a giant step to win the Central Florida theme park wars once and for all by ensuring that nightly rates for both hotels are extremely reasonable.
While there’s much to be unveiled at Universal’s Epic Universe, one thing is not behind the veil. The clock is winding down on Disney’s time to unveil a new project in Orlando that might rival Epic Universe. With less than two years to go until the new theme park opens at Universal Studios Orlando Resort, it’s unlikely Disney could have a horse in the race against Universal at this time.
In many ways, Disney has missed the boat when it comes to offering something in Central Florida to rival Epic Universe. The clear choice now for Disney is to follow Universal’s lead and break ground in North Texas, setting the stage for a brand-new competition outside of Central Florida.
Come on, Disney. Everybody’s Doing It!
Weeks after Universal announced its plans for a Frisco, Texas, theme park resort, Hasbro and Merlin Entertainment announced plans for a brand-new North Texas theme park as well.
Peppa Pig Park is coming to the city of North Richland Hills, Texas, and will encompass some 14 acres along Texas Boulevard 26. It will be located next to NRH20, a 17-acre water park in the city.
Last week, developers in the city of Denison, Texas, another north Texas city 75 miles from Dallas and south of the Texas/Oklahoma border, announced preparations for a new master-planned community and a brand-new Margaritaville Resort on the shores of Lake Texoma.
The massive project includes the construction of more than 7,500 luxury homes, a resort hotel, retail locations, restaurants, and an upscale marina. The new Margaritaville Resort will be located nearby. The entire project is valued at more than $6 billion, proving that the market is there for investments in the North Texas area.
North Texas is already home to Legoland, Great Wolf Lodge, Six Flags Over Texas, and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. The state of Texas is home to SeaWorld San Antonio, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and the Schlitterbahn. With the addition of Universal’s new theme park resort in Frisco, Peppa Pig Park in North Richland Hills, and a new Margaritaville Resort in Denison, it’s glaringly obvious which park is missing.
Things are coming together in North Texas–things that could easily lay the groundwork for a brand-new Disney Parks resort that might even rival the Walt Disney World Resort.
In recent years, people and places are flocking to the Lone Star State with great determination and drive. Could it be they know something that we don’t know? Or perhaps–that Disney hasn’t yet realized?