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Disney Strategist Unveils Plans for Massive New Theme Park, Opening in 2026

Welcome to Texas sign in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Disney / Canva

There’s been a lot of talk about plans for Disney World to pack up and move to another state–like Texas. At one point, the FBI even got involved when plans to move Disney to Texas got out of hand, and federal charges were ultimately filed.

But a former Disney Parks strategist has an even better idea, and she’s determined to see it through to fruition–no federal charges necessary.

Texas-Castle

Credit: Disney, Canva

Related: First-Time Visitors to Disney World From Texas Are in For a Very Un-Magical Shock

When you’ve lived in Texas as long as this writer has, you begin to understand a thing or two about Texans and the massive southern state they call home.

Texans love their mamas, their sweet tea, their Ford F-150s (Texas Edition, please), their Cowboys (win or lose), Friday Night Lights, Tex-Mex food, barbecue, the State Fair of Texas, and the Schlitterbahn.

And Texans love rides, attractions, and theme parks of many kinds. Bonus points are awarded to entities that install Texas-inspired themes in the aforementioned theme parks. Bless their hearts–Texans are trying their darnedest to make the Lone Star State more synonymous with theme park resorts and experiences.

In 2023, Universal Parks and Resorts announced plans for a new theme park resort in Frisco, Texas, north of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Only days later, Merlin Entertainment announced the planned construction of another Peppa Pig Amusement Park, this time in North Texas.

Related: Universal Studios is Coming to the Lone Star State, But Some Texans Are Saying, “No Thanks, Y’all”

big orange cowboy hat serves as an amusement park swingset

Credit: Texas Monthly

But an article at Texas Monthly looks at a broader scope of theme park possibilities and ponders the following questions:

“What if you could step inside a building that looks exactly like the Alamo and be transported somewhere fantastical? What if you could walk through its front doors to find a miniature San Antonio Riverwalk and a boat that would take you through all the prominent cultures in Texas history before even touching the classic Alamo story?”

While it might sound like pie in the sky to some, sixth-generation Texan Lizzy McGee dreams of making such a theme park a reality in the Lone Star State.

McGee is a Stanford Graduate School of Business graduate who spent the early years of her career working as a strategist for The Walt Disney Company, conducting research analyses for Disney’s theme parks, Disney Cruise Line, and Disney’s Resort Hotels. One day, during the pandemic, as McGee was working remotely from home, she had a dream, an epiphany of sorts.

young woman with pink cowboy hat on her head

Credit: Lizzy McGee/Kickstarter

“I realized that Texas broadly, and Houston specifically, has all the metrics that my team [at Disney] looked for,” she explained, “a massive and burgeoning population, a business-friendly environment, and, from the content side of things, a unique identity.”

McGee says that the city of Houston, Texas, hasn’t had a theme park since Astroworld closed in 2005, and she says that Astroworld didn’t close because it wasn’t profitable but rather because it was located on part of the most valuable land owned by Six Flags.

When the company chose to sell Six Flags, Astroworld was akin to a casualty of war, or, you know, theme park sales.

texasland project map in color

Credit: TexasLand

Based on her years of experience conducting market analyses for The Walt Disney Company, McGee says she just doesn’t see Disney Parks ever announcing a theme park resort in the Houston area, saying that such a proposal presented too much of an economic risk to the company. “That was a light bulb moment,” she recalls, “when I realized you don’t even need Disney or Universal. Texas itself is its own brand.”

Yep. Texas is its own brand.

After all, a majority of theme parks, like Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, and Disney California Adventure, tell stories. McGee realized that Texas, just by being Texas, has all the earmarks of a great storytelling experience: cowboys, railroads, astronauts, pirates. The story of Texas has it all–no Disney princesses needed.

four theme parks disney world

Credit: Disney Parks/Canva

The former Disney strategist says she’s well aware there’s another famous “Texas history-themed roller coaster company.” Still, she explains that her plans for a Texas history-themed park will be vastly different from that one.

“Six Flags is very ride-focused,” she says. “This is much more story-driven, and you don’t even necessarily need rides.” A theme park with no rides? Interesting.

Part of the park might be a real tall tale Wild West adventure; another area could be futuristic and space-y. But McGee thinks the heart of TexasLand will be more like New Orleans Square, in Disneyland, or EPCOT, in Disney World–an amusement park that evokes a very clear sense of place, allowing visitors to feel like they’re traveling great distances within a few hundred feet. “You could have the Towns of Texas Pavilion, and have a Matt’s El Rancho in the Austin part, and Lonesome Dove and the Stockyards in the Fort Worth pavilion, and a haunted house in the Marfa pavilion,” she says.

texasland attractions

Credit: TexasLand/Molly Burnside

You might ride a whirling cart through Bowie’s Lost Silver Mine or be flung up in a makeshift rocket ship at Apollo 11: Mission Control before battling pirates at Beyond the Gulf: Bandits on the High Seas. Concession stands would sell barbecue and ranch water, and one of the daily sources of entertainment would be a real live rodeo.

texasland merchandise

Credit: TexasLand

Related: Yet Another Theme Park Resort Announces It’s Coming to North Texas, Following Universal’s Lead

McGee is so deeply committed to her dream of “TexasLand” that the dream served as the motivation behind her decision to enroll in graduate business school. While at Stanford Business School, McGee took classes on real estate and how to manage a growing venture.

Per Texas Monthly:

“McGee teamed up with two classmates, Gaby Joseph and James Underwood, as well as her former Disney coworker Nick Blackburn, and started earnestly crafting her business plan. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in February of this year and, in two months, had raised a little over $80,000. The funds will go toward a professional demand study, the sort of intense market analysis that takes into account traffic and weather patterns, which Disney and Universal commission whenever they think about launching a new park.”

On the Kickstarter webpage for the TexasLand project, the team outlines its goals and why it believes the goals are attainable:

  • We want to build a quality, affordable, family-friendly park here in Texas
  • Our creative concept features attractions like Bowie’s Lost Silver MineApollo 11 Mission Control, and Beyond the Gulf: Bandits on the High Seas
  • We believe Texas’ size, growth, and unique state pride are ideal conditions for a tailor-made theme park
  • We’re a team comprising a sixth-generation Houstonian, industry professionals, and MBA students with love Deep in the Heart for both Texas and theme parks

I’m ninety-nine percent sure it’s going to tell us what we already know,” McGee said, “that there is demand for a product like this.”

The team plans to take the results of the study to potential investors. From that point, they will move on to site selection and creative development, allowing the park to take shape in concept art. And if McGee and her pals have their way, TexasLand will celebrate its grand opening in Summer 2026, just one year after Epic Universe is scheduled to open at Universal Studios Orlando Resort.

Epic Universe

Concept art for Epic Universe/Credit: Universal Parks & Experiences

Related: New Developments in North Texas Point to Disney’s Plans to Bring the Magic to the Lone Star State

McGee hopes TexasLand will become for Texans what Disneyland is for many Californians.

“I saw how people in L.A. and Southern California treated Disneyland–like it was in their backyard,” she explained. “They go on a random Tuesday afternoon or have their high school grad night there. Houston’s the fourth-largest city in the U.S. We should have something like this in our backyard.”

As of March 2024, TexasLand’s Kickstarter page has 262 backers with $81,732 pledged for the project.

For more information about the TexasLand project or to donate and be rewarded with the opportunity to have a say in the creative process, visit the TexasLand Kickstarter webpage by clicking here.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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