Where will Disney spend its billions on new attractions?

February 9, 2024, 4:21 PM · So how much money, exactly, will Disney spent on new attractions at each of its properties over the next decade?

Last year, Disney announced - with great fanfare - that it would spend $60 billion on capital expenditures at its theme parks and cruise line over the next 10 years. [See Disney to nearly double theme park capital expenditures.] During an investors call after releasing its first-quarter earnings report this week, new CFO Hugh Johnston clarified that about 70% of that money would be earmarked for "capacity-increasing investment." [Disney reports record revenue, income from its theme parks]

(Updates throughout.) Now if you did the math, that would put about $42 billion for new attractions across five theme park resorts and the Disney Cruise Line. (Note that the Tokyo Disney Resort is owned and operated by the Oriental Land Co. under license from Disney, so Disney does not pay for its capital expenditures.) If distributed evenly, that would be about $7 billion for each property over the next 10 years.

But it's not quite that simple. A road that opened an undeveloped area for resort expansion could be capacity-increasing, while a replacement of an existing attraction with something new might not. So the math isn't as easy as simple multiplication.

In addition, Disney's properties vary substantially in size and development potential. So it is likely that some locations will get more than average and others less. For now, let's start by looking at what Disney already has committed to spend of that $60 billion in overall capex.

Disney Cruise Line

The DCL will launch Disney Treasure in December this year, followed by another ship of the same class in 2026. At an estimated $1.1 billion each, that's $2.2 billion for these Disney Wish siblings. In addition, Disney will launch the Disney Adventure in Singapore next year. The company acquired the former Global Dream for about $42 million after original owner Genting Hong Kong failed. I haven't seen a reliable figure on what Disney is spending to complete and refurbish the ship to DCL standards, but let's just ballpark that at half the cost of the Treasure.

Throw in a reported $400 million that Disney is spending on its new Lookout Cay port of call in The Bahamas, and we already can account for about $3.2 billion in capex for the Disney Cruise Line in just the next couple of years.


As part of its DisneylandForward proposal to change land-use rules at its Anaheim, California property, Disney has committed to spending at least $2.5 billion on new attractions at the resort over the next 10 years. [Disneyland, Anaheim propose $2 billion-plus development deal] Disney could spend more than that if it chooses, of course, but that's what the company has committed to publicly, at this point.

Disneyland Paris

Work continues on the new World of Frozen land at Walt Disney Studios Paris. This installation will not include the Wandering Oaken's roller coaster but will otherwise be a copy of the recent Hong Kong land. [So what's next for Disney's World of Frozen?]

At the time of their announcements, the Hong Kong land was part of a $1.4 billion expansion that included Marvel changes in Tomorrowland and the castle transformation, and the Paris installation was part of a $2.1 billion project that included Avengers Campus and the changes to the Disneyland Hotel. So let's throw some darts at the wall to hit between those numbers and guesstimate somewhere around $500 million for previously committed upcoming capex in France.

Shanghai Disneyland

The resort is building its third, as-yet-unnamed hotel. [Shanghai Disneyland shares first image of its new hotel] There's no cost estimate for this, but Hong Kong Disneyland's newest, the Explorers Hotel, cost a reported $540 million and has almost double the number of rooms of the planned Shanghai hotel. So let's calculate a guess of about $300 million for the new Shanghai hotel.

Add those up and we have somewhere around $6.5 billion of the $60 billion already committed. And this accounting does not include other upcoming projects near completion, including Tiana's Bayou Adventure at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, though - again - an argument could be made that this "The Princess and the Frog"-themed redesign of the former Splash Mountain is not substantially adding to park capacity, as it is replacing a former attraction.

Disney also is building Disney Vacation Club expansions at the Fort Wilderness and Polynesian Resorts at Walt Disney World, as well as at least two Storyliving by Disney residential communities. While the cost of building the DVC properties is falling on Disney, much of the cost of the Storyliving communities will fall upon builder development partners, so that likely would not be part of the $60 billion.

All told, that leaves us with quite a bit in new capital expenditures that could fall anywhere in Disney's world over the next 10 years. Disney has un- or under-developed property at each of its five theme park resorts: Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disney Resort. That sets the stage for what fans should expect to be major announcements about new projects at the upcoming D23 fan event in Anaheim this August.

By then, the City of Anaheim will have made its decision about DisneylandForward, clearing way for announcements about new projects in Anaheim. I expect to get at least an opening season for World of Frozen in Paris, as well as names for the new Shanghai hotel and Disney cruise ship.

But what I suspect many Disney theme park fans really want is some announcements about new attraction construction at Walt Disney World. I remain skeptical that Disney will announced anything for Florida until its legal case against the state is resolved. Disney has appealed a judge's dismissal of its claims, and I continue to believe that this case is headed to the US Supreme Court before it is done. That probably won't happen before August, so Disney World fans might have to wait until at least the next Destination D23 event in Florida in 2025 before getting news about new rides in Orlando.

That said, Disney clearly has plans for those - and the money budgeted to build them.

So let's go ahead and spend Disney's money in the comments, why don't we? What do you want to see the company build, and where?

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Replies (7)

February 10, 2024 at 2:20 AM

Anyone know how likely it is that DisneyForward ends up getting passed? I know Disney likely has a lot of supporters on Anaheim City Council, but I have no clue if that power is enough to consider DisneyForward a done deal.

Really curious as to what the “Plan B” would be if this falls through though. I guess the best plan would be to throw the money at a massive California Adventure rebrand/refurb?

February 10, 2024 at 3:12 AM

Looking at open buildings and areas, we can get an easy idea of some potential areas for development:

Disneyland Park: the Innoventions building and former Captain EO Theater

DCA: at least two available soundstages in Hollywood land + new Avengers ride

Magic Kingdom: Stitch’s Great Escape building

EPCOT: former Wonders of Life building

Animal Kingdom: most of Dinoland USA

Hollywood Studios: Star Wars Launch Bay building

February 10, 2024 at 8:34 AM

I think Robert's opinion that Disney won't build attractions until the DeSantis stuff is settled is a bit of a stretch. I think we will get real announcements at D23 in August. Vertical construction or at least site work in 2025 and a significant addition at one (or more) of the parks in 2027 and 2028.

February 10, 2024 at 8:40 AM

By the way, they will continue to develop the cruise line. When consumers earmark money for vacations cruise lines and theme parks are an either/or proposition. Universal's Florida parks are competing just as much with the Disney Cruise Line as they are with the parks at WDW.

February 10, 2024 at 12:40 PM

I would love to see even more investment in EPCOT, specifically in bringing the original Future World attractions up to the standard of the newer attractions. In order of priority: Journey Into Imagination, and Spaceship Earth, with Land and Sea after. Anyone who visited Journey Into Imagination in its original incarnation understands what the potential appeal of this attraction can be. I am hopeful that given both the recent improvements to EPCOT overall as well as the stated goal of improving capacity resorts-wide, that the opportunity to do right by this pavilion is finally nigh. Has anyone floated the idea of inducting the Dreamfinder into S.E.A.? I know there was a lot of talk of Inside Out as an IP for the pavilion, but given how much money Disney mints in the selling of retro merch with Figment and the Dreamfinder, there is a strong case for continuing to develop this IP on its own. Timing-wise, the aesthetic of a Jules Verne/ steampunk/Mystic Manor vibe (in other words—Epic Universe?) is hot right now. I guess what I’m saying is, if it doesn’t happen now, probably never will. But I would finally plan my return to the park if it did…

February 10, 2024 at 6:36 PM

@Jonah Sirota: Just located you on Spotify. I look forward to enjoying your work.

February 11, 2024 at 6:36 PM

Based on news, rumors and speculation, along with some logical guesswork, here's what I'm thinking...

Disneyland Resort: Based on what Disney has been saying regarding the scale of Disneyland Forward, I'm skeptical that project will only be $2.5 billion dollars and am guessing that the number chosen was low so Disney can be confident they'll hit it in tine. I'd say $4 billion is a bit more likely. Beyond that, they've also got the unknown Avatar experience and Avengers E-ticket in development, which will probably consume most of the capacity-increasing capital slated for the Disneyland Resort. I'm hopeful that the long overdue Tomorrowland refurbishment will also happen under this spending, but given how many times that's been kicked down the road I'm not confident in it until construction actually starts.

Walt Disney World: I seem to remember Disney previously stating they were planning to invest upwards of $10 billion in WDW over the next decade, so there's a lot of potential. I expect the biggest projects to be the Dinoland replacement and Beyond Big Thunder extension of Magic Kingdom, but could also see DHS potentially getting another new land and one or two standalone E-tickets in the parks as well. Beyond that, there will definitely be a couple additional resorts built to handle increased demand, and likely lots of non-ride investment such as new shows, parades, restaurants, etc. that still count as "capacity-increasing investments" in my mind. What I do not expect is a fifth gate at WDW.

Disneyland Paris: I don't follow this resort closely enough to know where things stand, but I'm sure the Studios expansion areas are definitely part of the investment here. I also wouldn't be surprised if they tried for a third park here, especially since other European theme parks have gotten quite aggressive at the outside IP game in recent years and Disney is becoming dated by comparison.

Hong Kong Disneyland: Honestly, this one will probably get the smallest share of the pot. I'd be surprised if Disneyland's Avengers E-ticket doesn't get cloned over here, but other than that I'm not sure what's likely at the resort.

Shanghai Disneyland: Like the other international locations I don't follow this one too closely, but I'd expect multiple new headliner attractions as well as plenty of non-resort development as this seems to be Disney's best performing international location (excluding Tokyo, of course).

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