How much does Disney spend on major new attractions?

August 24, 2018, 9:00 AM · So how much money does Disney spend on its new theme park attractions?

A new report details the expenses behind some of the top new developments at the Disneyland Resort. The post by Kelsey Graeber at Buildzoom lists 10 projects that represent more than $202 million in construction permits filed by the resort over the past 12 months.

And the most expensive Disneyland project isn't even a new attraction. It's a parking garage.

The new 6,500-space "Cleo" parking structure, going up next door to the long-standing Mickey and Friends structure, tops the construction value list at $100 million. That compares to the reported $108 million that the City of Anaheim spent (in 2000) to build Mickey and Friends, which parks a reported 10,242 cars... or at least it did, before Disney moved the tram station inside the structure.

That leaves second place to what's likely the most anticipated of Disneyland's construction projects — the heart of the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land, the First Order Battle Escape motion base ride, which the report pegs with a permit value of $55,746,094.

In case you are wondering about the numbers, here's an explanation, from Graeber: "A building permit's valuation is a pre-construction estimate of the labor and materials required to build a project as submitted by the applicant to the building department. Because they may not yet be defined at the time of a building permit application, non-structural finish materials may not be included in the permit valuation. These valuations do not include change orders or consulting fees."

So we're talking the building here, and not the cost of Imagineering developing and installing the ride tech itself, nor of the themed decoration of the attraction facility. For Galaxy's Edge, that's got to be a lot.

Third place is the Grand Californian renovation, which is reported at $22.9 million, followed by a $6.6 million permit for Pixar Pier, another $4 million for an "iconic theme prop" in Galaxy's Edge (guess is the Millennium Falcon), then several other updates around the resort, including $2 million for Incredicoaster show spaces and $2.5 million for the renovated Lamplight Lounge, also on Pixar Pier.

Take a look at the list. Where do you think Disney did best with its money?

Replies (12)

August 24, 2018 at 2:05 PM

Within about 2.5 years they'll have profit from their parking structure so I think that is a great investment. Keep up and low wage workers make it cheap to exploit.
I think the worst investment is Pixar Pier, it's lipstick on a pig, expansive lipstick and I don't expect it to create extra profit.
Biggest overspending is Star Wars. While Lucas Film is doing it's best to alienate the fans this ip is in a slum. Sure it'll create foot traffic but will it sell blue milk the way Universal is selling Butterbeer, I think not.

August 24, 2018 at 2:23 PM

Looking forward to buying blue milk next year at Disneyland!

August 24, 2018 at 3:08 PM

$200million spent on parking lots... gotta wonder if the money would've been better split investing in a quality public transit link to the Anaheim Regional system.

August 24, 2018 at 5:11 PM

I don't begrudge parks their profit, but I do think the prices charged for parking is a bit ridiculous. I know paying to park is never going away, but while I'm comfortable (not happy, but comfortable) with paying $3.49 for a bottle of water, $20 to park my car makes me twitch.

August 24, 2018 at 8:08 PM

As a former cat member, I saw the capital investment and wondered when would the human investment be made. Realized never.

August 24, 2018 at 9:40 PM


Universal’s West and East Coast “parking structures’ are HUGE money makers! OT IS RIGHT!

And, “low wage workers make it cheap to exploit” at Universal! OT IS RIGHT!

The overwhelming crowds at PIXAR Pier are making for long lines at rides, store cash registers, restaurants, vending carts, bathrooms. OT IS RIGHT!

The TWO BILLION dollar box office for one Star Wars film AND two films at over ONE BILLION should be ignored. OT IS RIGHT!

The MASSIVE EXCITEMENT for the NEW Star Wars animated series and live action series should be ignored. OT IS RIGHT!

August 24, 2018 at 10:00 PM

That's why I love Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland parks! You just hop on the subway/MTR and go! No need for a car - thus, no parking fees!

August 25, 2018 at 5:31 AM

$20 to park would be the cheapest I’ve ever paid! Some people here pay $70/day just to park for work after commuting in traffic for an hour. Luckily I take the subway for $2 each way. Point being, $20 is cheap parking for’s all relative.

August 25, 2018 at 6:38 PM

O T - They clearly didn't overspend on Star Wars. The profit angles are endless - merchandise (that's already designed), food, drinks etc.. Also remember they are competing with Universal who has gone all out on their very impressive immersive experiences - if Disney doesn't keep people coming with better environments they will go down the street.

There is also the angle of causing people to revisit the big library of older Star Wars materials. No doubt Harry Potter franchise benefits on a daily basis from what Universal has done.

August 25, 2018 at 8:19 PM

The current Star Wars films might not be what the hardcore fans want to see but the overall franchise is as popular as it's ever been. It's like suggesting that WWOHP is going to suddenly fail because people take exception to Johnny Depp being in the Fantastic Beasts films.

August 27, 2018 at 9:41 AM

Here here Rob - If you think about it, Disney charging $20 a day for parking in a facility with 6,500 spaces, the $100 million facility will pay for itself in less than 3 years. Any business that makes back their investment in 3 years (especially in a facility that will likely have a 20+ year lifespan before major maintenance is required), is smiling all the way to the bank.

August 28, 2018 at 1:08 PM

How much is the entire star wars project in disneyland and seperately in florida costing? I cant find it on the internet anywhere?

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