Expansion plans in Orlando

Edited: July 25, 2023, 5:49 PM

I'm curious to know what people think about Disney's potential expansion of a 5th gate. Do you really think that the Orlando market could support another major park after Epic Universe opens?

I personally don't think that Disney has any plans to add a 5th park anytime soon. To me it is far more likely that they will expend their current parks with new lands but steer clear of building another park in Orlando.

For Universal, after Epic Universe what do you think is next for them? I could see them building another water park next to Epic but similarly to Disney I think Universal would be done in Orlando aside from rides and new lands.

Replies (11)

Edited: July 24, 2023, 11:04 AM

Francis, I never say "never" but think it is highly unlikely in the short/medium term based on:

> The cost of a 5th gate - we are talking $billions, probably $10b+ as it would need a couple of "golden/must do" themed attractions
> This expenditure will have massive impact on shareholders with no guaranteed increase, particularly in the short/medium term so would likely meet significant resistance
> Potential to take custom away from the other parks, particularly those which struggle to be full-day parks like Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
> The necessity to make the above full-day experiences to combat Universal

It would be interesting to see, if Disney was considering a 5th gate, what the overarching theme would be and what IPs they would use.

The impact of Epic Universe, complementing Universal's existing parks, is the real tester, hence, why I never say "never".

July 24, 2023, 12:47 PM

Honestly, given how much it would cost to build a completely new theme park right now, I just don't see the financial benefit. Most people are not going to vacation in Orlando for more than a week at a time. With 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, and the draw of Universal, there just aren't enough days left to justify a 5th theme park unless you want to undercut your own business. Obviously it would be the move to make if you want to hit out at your closest rival, but I honestly don't think the 2 resorts look at each in such a cutthroat way.

Obviously, building a 3rd park made sense for Universal, because it gets them closer to what WDW offers, and forces guests to make a one or the other choice for their week's visit to Orlando. A 5th park at WDW just wouldn't do that, even though I think the clean slate of a new theme park would allow WDI to really flex their muscle from a creative standpoint.

That brings us to the likelihood of continuing to expand and enhance the existing theme parks. Obviously DAK is need of the most love, but considering the cost and magnitude of the Avatar addition, there probably isn't a lot of will out there to pump another $1 billion into a park that's been pretty flat attendance-wise since 2017 (when PtWoA debuted). There's obviously a massive hole where Dinoland USA used to be that is about as much of a blank slate as you're going to find within the existing borders of the WDW parks. Given that the other 3 WDW parks have been given solid additions in the past 5 years, it would only make sense that DAK would be next on the agenda, which would help balance the park in terms of guest flow.

July 24, 2023, 2:52 PM

Disney needs to invest in the currant parks, not add a new one.

Also Disney has Two water parks.

Imagine if just for once, Disney made a Big boy ride - Like a inversion coaster.

July 24, 2023, 3:04 PM

I think Disney has learned a bit from the issues of California Adventure and Disney Paris Studios. They may want a fifth gate but far more careful in the proper theme/place/etc rather than just jumping in.

July 25, 2023, 4:00 PM

@Brian Emery - Doesn't Rock 'n' Roller Coaster have three inversions?

Well, I guess you did say Big boy ride, so maybe that disqualifies it.

July 25, 2023, 8:12 PM

As much fun as it is to dream about a fifth Walt Disney World theme park, logistically it makes very little sense. Let's assume that the average vacationer is going to have a maximum of one week for a Florida trip, which will give them at most seven park days (assuming they aren't visiting a park on arrival or departure day). Most Walt Disney World visitors will require four to six days to experience the four existing parks and most will want a non-park day as well, so without extending the trip a WDW vacation is pretty much fully booked with the resort's current offerings. Additionally, while not every park has a complete attraction collection, across all four parks there are options for everyone, thus there are no obvious holes to fill in. As such, a fifth park would likely only be able to draw more people to the resort if it offered IPs not present at the existing parks and radically different types of attractions than can currently be found on property, and if it couldn't attract a completely new audience to the resort it'd be more likely to cannibalize from the existing parks rather than increasing revenue as most guests simply can't extend their stay beyond what they're doing now.

For Universal, I think we need to see the full impact of Epic Universe before looking at adding any additional gates. Right now, Universal represents a one or two day add-on to a Walt Disney World vacation for many travelers, and while some do spend more time there they're in the vast minority. The hope is that Epic Universe will change that, persuading guests to more evenly split their time between the resorts or even eschew Disney completely for a Universal/Orlando vacation. If successful, further growth might be warranted in time, but I think it's plausible Epic could wind up flopping as the design of the park really only makes it attractive to fans of the particular IPs utilized at the property.

July 25, 2023, 8:19 PM

I can't see Disney building an all new park either. More employees, more hotels... Universal has tons of room for expansion at Epic, which was the point of buying that much land in the first place.

I can see Epic Universe being a 2 park property with some type of Citywalk area, but maybe 9-10 years down the line. I think they initially talked about a second water park going on the Epic Universe plot of land as well. That huge hunk of land can easily swallow both current parks, all the hotels and Volcano Bay.

July 26, 2023, 9:34 AM

I agree that Disney is still the biggest draw to Orlando but its been 10 years since we've gone to a Disney park. For us Orlando means Universal and all though I'm in the minority the number of people that feel this way has only been getting bigger and bigger every year. I think the number of people that only go to Universal would be surprising to most hardcore Disney fan. Epic Universe will definitely help cement that even further.

After Epic Universe opens Disney might actually become more barrable in the following few years so it will be interesting to see if they drop or not. As mentioned before I highly doubt they would build another park and will stick to new rides and lands.

If the Orlando market continues to grow however, 30 years from now they might consider another park. Even if you wouldn't have enough time to cover all the parks on a single trip if the growth is there it would make sense to expand to increase capacity.

August 6, 2023, 6:20 AM

I think the problem is that Disney seems intent on investing in new, or expanded, Resorts. So it follows that there will be increased numbers at the existing Parks. Once full capacity has been reached where will people go ?
Perhaps Disney will be content to use Resorts alone as a revenue stream and allow those customers to slip through their hands to visit other attractions. I can't see that happening though.
Then, of course, there's the ongoing political football being bounced around Florida making it hard for Disney to get the property and the access. I know little about that but it's a problem nonetheless.
At the end of the day Disney needs to increase revenue and I can't see them standing still. So despite all the misgivings I think they'll find a way to expand the number of Parks in Florida but maybe not in Orlando.

August 6, 2023, 11:40 AM

I think a lot of people on here would be surprised how many people go to Orlando and do different parks on different trips. Over the years I have talked to many people who will come and do UO on one trip, Sea World/Aquatica/Discovery Cove on another trip, and WDW on another trip. Or they will do a mix of UO and SWO and not go to WDW at all. UO is definitely not just an add-on to a WDW trip. All three properties offer UK resident tickets that are basically the same (14 days at a huge discount).

Universal has built itself a large fan base. Its kind of funny i've worked around all these areas talking to people at the DVC hotels they will tell you they come multiple times a year and only go to Disney, and go to the hotels at Universal and I-Drive you can talk to plenty of people who come every year and only go to Universal. I've even met plenty of people from other countries who say they come every year for Horror Nights (which i've always found kind of strange but whatever floats their boat). So yea...there's a big mix of everything.

In regards to WDW getting a 5th park, its been very evident that zoning and land use wise they have been gearing up for another park for a long time (at least until the Desantis fiasco). Whether or not the economics work out anytime soon I have no idea. Although IMO there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for another theme park that's full of IP lands, if Disney does another park I think it should be something full of original ideas that you can't find anywhere else. WDW has definitely lost a lot of its appeal over the years to non Disney/Star Wars/Marvel fans by making every single thing Disney IP.

August 8, 2023, 12:36 PM

@ the_man2

True enough. We ourselves always visited Orlando for about 4 weeks with park hopping passes for both Disney & Universal. We were also lucky enough to go to to all the other attractions that were within driving distance of the area from Busch to Kennedy SC.
I just wondered if Disney might be bold ( or crazy) enough to look at taking over somewhere like Silver Springs. That seems outrageous and not just because Silver Springs is not only historically "untouchable" but is also a lovely place to visit.
That said it would be difficult for the Governor to run interference on any access roads for example.
I personally hope it never happens but you never know when it comes to money. Stranger things have happened.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive