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The Secret Disney Isn’t Telling You About the Future of Its Theme Parks

Magic Kingdom Castle with Top Secret Label
Credit: Disney / Canva

Earlier this year, Tron Lightcycle / Run debuted at Magic Kingdom Park. The Moana Journey of Water opens soon, and next year, Disneyland and Walt Disney World will finish their transformation of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. But what’s on the horizon after that?

Tiana's Bayou Adventure construction

Credit: Steven Wilk

Nothing.

Nothing new will come to Walt Disney World Resort until 2028 (at the EARLIEST). That’s five years from now, with no further significant rides or attractions. And 2028 is the best-case scenario – if a new Disney World ride was announced today.

Bob Iger disney

Credit: Disney

The COVID pandemic delayed multiple projects throughout the company, including at every Disney theme park. This is no surprise. However, as many projects in and around the United States were put on hold, projects and growth have moved forward at the Walt Disney Company’s international parks.

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International Projects

In Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, they are getting a new Frozen-themed land; in Shanghai Disneyland, they are getting a Zootopia-themed land; and in Tokyo Disneyland Resort, they are creating Fantasy Springs – an expansion to Tokyo DisneySea that will include themed areas dedicated to Frozen, Tangled, and Peter Pan.

Hong Kong Disney

Credit: Disney

Disney Cruise Line is also investing heavily in constructing three new cruise ships over the next three years.

disney cruise line ship disney wonder minnie mouse mickey mouse outfits alaska only gloves dress character costume disney parks

Credit: Disney

But when it comes to the parks in the United States, what is Disney building? A retheme of the Adventureland Treehouse at Disneyland Park and a few facelifts at some resorts. Oh, and some more Disney Vacation Club buildings. But nothing about new in the way of major attractions, rides, expansions, or lands.

RELATED: Disney Releases Stunning New Images Showcasing Frozen-Themed Land

Local Disney Parks

The Walt Disney Company previously said that its feud with the State of Florida had not impacted its numbers or finances, but is that the truth? The Walt Disney Company has canceled its $1 billion Lake Nona project, shut down its Galactic Star Cruiser hotel experience, and scaled back on many of its EPCOT projects. It also seems that Walt Disney World is cutting back its hours, nighttime shows, and its current list of projects. Is their budget stretching before our eyes…or is it just our imagination?

Disney World to Host SPECIAL 100th Anniverary Celebration at Epcot

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World Resort is one of – if not THE biggest source of revenue for the company. Despite legal fights or culture wars, it’s an odd decision not to invest more into that facet of the business. Walt Disney World is an international tourist destination that sees visitors from all over the globe (and, of course, locally). But if Disney stops investing money into its theme parks, it may cause attendance to drop. Even if they decide not to pursue building a fifth theme park – there should still be an appetite to create new attractions for new and returning guests. Walt Disney World has the space. And they have the money…or do they?

magic kingdom cinderella castle

Credit: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

It has been suggested that Disney’s finances are in worse shape than they are letting on publicly. It’s no secret that recent film releases such as Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023), The Haunted Mansion (2023), Elemental (2023), and many others have yet to turn a profit for the studio. The Walt Disney Company could have easily spent $1 billion investing in its local theme parks in the past two years instead of funding almost a dozen films that were all flops. Of course, no one knows when making a film that it will be a flop, but even a subpar theme park attraction will still draw into the parks for years, where they will buy food, merchandise, etc. And unlike a summer block buster that is just a big flash of revenue in the middle of summer, a new theme park ride will see revenue trickle in for years.

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Many Disney fans fear that the company has no plan – especially regarding theme parks. No major expansions, announcements, or rides are coming out of earnings calls or Disney CEO Bob Iger; interviews. Instead, there is only talk of layoffs, canceling billion-dollar projects, and their fight with Governor Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis Disney feud

Credit: Flickr, Greg Skidmore/ Adobe

So it seems unlikely we’ll see anything as ambitious as a Frozen-themed land coming to Magic Kingdom Park or Zootopia attractions replacing Dinoland USA at Animal Kingdom – at least anytime soon. The money may not be there, even if the demand is.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Expansion

Disney’s Art Rendering of DinoLand U.S.A. Expansion

As much as I love going to Walt Disney World, I can’t imagine that in 10 years from now, the newest “big” attraction could still be Tron or Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (if you even count that as “new.”) Especially when Universal Studios is not only adding to its roster of rides but building two new theme parks in the United States over the new couple years.

It’s sad.

About Steven Wilk

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