Where Will Disney Build Its Next Theme Park?
The Walt Disney Company currently finds itself in an odd position.
According to Disney officials, the company would like to spend $17 billion over the next decade to develop Walt Disney World.
Alas, the Florida Feud has raised questions regarding the likelihood of such expansion.
Meanwhile, recent comments by Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro have highlighted some other possibilities.
Where will Disney possibly build its next theme park? I think the answer may surprise you.
Here’s Why It’s Probably Not Walt Disney World
As I just hinted, Walt Disney World no longer fits the bill as the next place where the company builds a theme park.
I’m extraordinarily disappointed to hear this, as I’d hoped that we might have something new within the next five-to-seven years.
Alas, D’Amaro stepped on the neck of that possibility during a recent presentation.
D’Amaro appeared at the 51st Annual JPMorgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, answering questions about Disney.
During a response, D’Amaro explicitly stated that Disney hadn’t factored the Lake Nona development into that $17 billion figure. It was intended as a standalone expense.
For his part, D’Amaro describes Disney’s park expansion plans as “aggressive.”
He noted that some of the blue-sky projects mentioned at the 2022 D23 Parks Expo comprise part of that $17 billion.
So, we’re apparently getting some of that stuff after all. However, I think we can safely rule out a fifth theme park for the time being.
Rather than hinting at a full construction like that, D’Amaro repeatedly referenced “growing the parks” rather than taking on a massive project.
To a larger point, with everything happening in Florida right now, the company understandably cannot rely on local politicians to act in a pro-business manner.
After all, they haven’t for more than a year now, and that’s unlikely to change while the state’s governor runs for President.
I would love for the end of the Florida Feud to include a compromise wherein politicians provide Disney with Lake Nona-esque tax incentives to develop a fifth park, though.
That move strikes me as the best way out for all involved, but we should be realistic that it’s not happening anytime soon.
Here’s Why It’s Probably Not Disneyland Resort
Disney CEO Bob Iger recently went on record as saying that Disneyland expansion possibilities highlight “more opportunity” than people may realize.
While we all love to hear that, some realities remain inescapable.
Since the very beginning in 1955, Disney has faced unique constraints in adding to Disneyland.
Land in the greater Los Angeles area was already ridiculously expensive in the 1950s. It’s only gotten worse after nearly 70 years of real estate inflation.
Walt Disney lacked the capital to purchase all the land he wanted in Anaheim.
Soon afterward, the success of Disneyland attracted third-party entrepreneurs to the area surrounding the park.
Over the years, Disney has grabbed many parcels of land along the way. But the overriding problem remains.
Disney lacks the land to expand significantly. This fact explains why Disney California Adventure (DCA) is Disney’s smallest park at 72 acres.
Park officials would need a herculean effort to acquire the requisite land.
While I’m not saying that’s impossible, I’m skeptical it’s in Disney’s best interest to do so.
Let’s remember how threadbare DCA was during its first decade in existence.
A new Disneyland gate must quickly justify its financial outlay. The math here is shaky.
Again, I would LOVE for Disney to prove me wrong, though!
Here’s Why It’s Probably Not Anywhere Else in America
For a while, I have championed the idea that Disney should open the bidding for a new theme park in the United States.
Given how much revenue and tourism that Walt Disney World brings to Florida, every other state in the union would happily give anything for a new park.
While that bidding war may yet happen, D’Amaro recently made one thing perfectly clear.
Disney will NOT adopt the Universal Studios policy of creating mini-theme parks.
Universal officials made headlines earlier this year when they announced a mini-Universal Studios park coming to Frisco, Texas.
This park will rely heavily on Universal Pictures animated characters from Despicable Me, Madagascar, and so forth to enhance the experience for families.
Obviously, with Disney’s vast catalog of animated characters, it could do something similar for quick profit.
However, Disney worries more about its brand, while Universal remains in the “still figuring things out” stage.
For this reason, D’Amaro flatly rejected the notion, saying:
“I think (building mini-theme parks) must be interesting for them.
“For us, we think that focusing on our core assets is where we should be spending most of our opportunity.
“As I said earlier, we think that there’s so much potential there. That’s where we’re continuing to focus our efforts.”
So, we can safely rule out the idea of the mini-park. As for a Disney bidding war, we’ll have to stay tuned on that one.
Here’s Why It’s Probably Not Malaysia…
Part of my job involves tracking down wild rumors. Sometimes, I find myself shocked when the stories have a kernel of truth.
In most instances, what sounds like nonsense turns out to be nonsense. Then, we have situations like the Malaysia rumor.
Last year, I spent the body of two days chasing down a rumor that I never even wrote about because it proved to be fake news.
That’s CNN saying that, not me. The original source sounded oddly informed, though.
Datuk Muhammad Jailani Khamis, chairman of the Melaka State Heritage and Culture Committee, made a proclamation during a historic event.
At the groundbreaking for a new maglev system – yes, that’s a monorail – the official proclaimed that Melaka (or Malacca City) was getting a Disney theme park.
Disney itself sounded incredulous in denying the report, but that’s not unusual. Sometimes, park officials are the last to know.
Ken Potrock, the President of Disneyland Resort, was just joking the other day that he had no idea that Avatar was coming to the park until Bob Iger announced it.
Meanwhile, a city official involved in negotiations would know. Alternatively, they have a friend, family member, or business associate involved.
At the time, I decided the story was bogus, but this stuff is never as cut-and-dried as it may seem.
But Here’s Why It Might Be Malaysia…or Singapore
During the interview, D’Amaro indicated the following:
“But certainly, when you have cruise coming into a new market, it kind of gives you some indication in terms of how guests are receiving the Disney brand and what the opportunities might look like going forward.
Certainly, (there’s) nothing to announce from a new theme park perspective right now, but there’s always opportunity.”
You can read into that what you will, but I’ll pass along this geographical tidbit. Malacca City resides about 160 miles away from Singapore Harbor.
As a country, Singapore became a sovereign state in 1965 when it separated from…Malaysia.
Also, Singapore nearly gained a theme park in 2005. Did you know that Hong Kong poached its theme park from Singapore? It’s true.
Hong Kong officials demonstrated a greater willingness to cede cheap land to Disney than Singapore. The two places are 1,600 miles apart, though.
Disney could feasibly reconsider a Singapore (or Malaysia) park if the government demonstrated more flexibility with land negotiations this time.
Alternatively, the Melaka State Heritage and Culture Committee Chairman may yet be proven right.
Disney has targeted the expansion of its brand in Southeast Asia.
A combination of a Disney Cruise Line destination in Singapore and a park there or in Maylasia makes a LOT of sense.
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! Want to go to Disney? For a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, please fill out the form below, and one of the agents from MickeyTravels, a Diamond Level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, will be in touch soon!
Feature Photo: Disney