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Disney World could be adding a fifth theme park soon

There could be a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” on the horizon for the roughly 50 million guests who visit Walt Disney World annually.

Today, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which oversees land use and public services within the area Disney World owns and operates, unanimously approved an initial reading of a 15-year development plan that could bring major changes to Disney World in the coming decades, including a possible fifth theme park.

Disney published a legal notice detailing the development plan in the May 29 edition of the Orlando Sentinel. It outlined Disney’s planned investment of up to $17 billion over the next 10 to 20 years, with a commitment of $8 billion in the next 10 years.

As outlined in the plan, those funds could be used to develop new office space, hotels, restaurants, retail spaces and theme parks. The proposed agreement encompasses approximately 17,370 acres of land under the CFTOD’s jurisdiction, the majority of the land they oversee.

Under the plan’s terms, Disney World would be approved to raise its total number of hotel rooms from the more than 36,000 it currently has to 53,467 and increase retail and restaurant space. Most exciting for Disney fans, the agreement also calls for a maximum of five “major theme parks” and five “minor theme parks.”

Disney already has four theme parks and two water parks, but if the plan is approved, Disney could potentially build a fifth theme park and additional water parks or similar smaller, more minor parks.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

The agreement also calls for Disney to “donate land for public infrastructure improvements necessary to support the new development,” commit at least $10 million to attainable housing projects and award at least 50% of the goods and services related to design, development and construction under the plan to Florida businesses.

Today’s news reconfirms The Walt Disney Company’s $60 billion commitment to “accelerate and expand investment” in its global theme parks, cruise line and other vacation experiences announced last September by CEO Bob Iger.

“You can pretty much conclude that they’ll be all over — meaning every single one of our locations will be the beneficiary of increased investment and thus increased capacity, including on the high seas, where we’re currently building three more ships,” Iger said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call in February.

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Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Since the announcement, the company opened the World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland and a Zootopia-themed land at Shanghai Disney Resort. It will also open Fantasy Springs at Tokyo Disney Resort on June 6. Additionally, Disney recently received approval to build new lands and attractions at Disneyland and shared early concept “blue sky” ideas for Disney World expansion plans.

This development agreement, which has so far been supported by both Disney and the CFTOD, solidifies both organizations’ continued commitment to investing in Central Florida. Disney’s investment would bring growth and development to the area through new jobs, more tourists and additional state and local revenue.

Negotiations between Disney and the CFTOD have not historically been amicable. The contentious relationship began in 2022 when Disney spoke out against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that prohibited discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms, a bill that Gov. Ron DeSantis championed.

Cinderella Castle at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

Disney’s criticism drew DeSantis’ ire, leading him to remove Disney’s self-governing status and special taxation benefits by taking control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District (now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District), renaming it and appointing five hand-picked representatives to the board that was previously wholly controlled by Disney.

Before they were ousted, Disney’s board members attempted to push through a development deal, which has kept the two in legal battles ever since. On March 27, Disney and the CFTOD reached a settlement that nullified any previous development agreements, with both parties agreeing to negotiate a new development plan.

A second and final public hearing for consideration of Disney’s development agreement is scheduled for June 12, though it seems likely the plan will move forward based on Wednesday’s unanimous vote. If it does, Disney World could get an even better makeover in the coming years than Cinderella did before the royal ball.

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