Why Hasn’t Walt Disney World Built a Fifth Theme Park?

With Walt Disney World crowds on the rise and new hotels and resorts popping up, you may have wondered, why hasn’t Disney built a fifth park? It looks like Walt Disney World property has the space for it, and surely Disney fans would be thrilled to find new ways to experience their favorite vacation destination, and yet, it hasn’t happened. Here are some possibilities for why that is.

There’s enough land, right?

Credit: Disney

This question is a tricky one. At first glance while on Walt Disney World property, it might appear that there is a ton of unused land. This is true, sort of. While Walt Disney World stretches 44 square miles and it does have lots of empty space, most of this land is actually not safe to build on.

The current parks and resorts were essentially built on swampland that once filled in became safe enough to build on, but the amount of land that would be safe for such construction on property today is not as much as what would likely be needed for a fifth theme park. (We have to remember that as Guests, we are always only seeing a portion of each park. Show buildings are larger than their facades often taking up lots of space backstage as well as all of the out of sight facilities that are necessary to operate a theme park.)

Moreover, a large percentage of unoccupied land at Walt Disney World is intentionally unbuilt upon as it is designated conservation land. Between the conservation land and the plots are simply aren’t safe to hold a new park, there is likely less available land on Disney property than meets the eye.

But there is space for new hotels?


This is true, and the reason why we see new hotels and not new theme parks is likely a business one. The operations side of opening a new hotel is much easier than opening a new theme park, in terms of design and actual production and function. Hotels are more often than not self-contained, which much of what they need to operate located right on-site, while theme parks are much more complicated.

And, while they cannot help with the current crowd levels the same way we theme park would, new hotels have many of the amenities in place that would help manage crowds and create new offerings for Guests visiting Walt Disney World that a new park would probably not be able to manage. In short, a hotel comes at lower operating costs but yields worthwhile benefits.

If not a new park, then what?

Disney Cruise Line CDC

Credit: Disney

Expansions on current parks and total revamps. Instead of putting everything into constructing an entirely new park, it’s possible Disney will focus on expanding and revamping current parks. We have already seen this happen with new lands opening up around Walt Disney World parks, and for revamps, the latest example is EPCOT, whose former Future World is currently being redesigned into new neighborhoods called World Celebration, World Nature, and World Discovery.

This isn’t to say we won’t get memorable new projects from Disney. Two new cruise ships are in the works from Disney Cruise Line, with the newest ship, the Disney Wish, launching later this summer. Adventures by Disney trips have been expanding both in the U.S. and across nearly every continent, and with special events, there will always be a new and exciting reason to re-visit Walt Disney World.

Will Walt Disney World ever get a fifth park?


Credit: Disney

We can’t confirm that it’s impossible, but it seems unlikely that we will ever see a new theme park open up at Walt Disney World. Since the opening of the Magic Kingdom in 1971, a new Walt Disney World theme park has opened within 11 years or less of the previous park. With Animal Kingdom having opened in 1998, we are well beyond that now!

It seems like Disney’s focus since the opening of Animal Kingdom has been on expanding experiences outside of the theme parks or the theme parks themselves rather than constructing new theme parks at Walt Disney World. Since Hong Kong Disneyland Resort opened in 2005, and Shanghai Disney Resort opened in 2016, an entirely new resort seems more likely than a fifth gate at Walt Disney World.

On top of new international resorts, Disney has steadily been expanding parts of Walt Disney World with initiatives like the new Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s Riviera Resort, Pandora: The World of Avatar, Toy Story Land, and additional smaller offerings around the parks and resorts, and it seems plausible that these types of expansions would continue before a fifth park would be considered.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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