Disney offers details on two ‘largest expansions’ in Florida after settling differences with Ron DeSantis - Hindustan Times
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Disney offers details on two ‘largest expansions’ in Florida after settling differences with Ron DeSantis

Apr 05, 2024 09:21 AM IST

Walt Disney World stays very tight-lipped about its future projects, including expansions inspired by Indiana Jones and Encanto.

Exciting news brought by Walt Disney World with an update on its future project at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, with Indiana Jones and Encanto.

Get ready for Magic Kingdom's biggest expansion yet with Disney's 'Beyond Big Thunder' project. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)(AP)
Get ready for Magic Kingdom's biggest expansion yet with Disney's 'Beyond Big Thunder' project. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)(AP)

Concerned about increasing the Magic Kingdom visitors flow even further, Disney decided to start work on “one of the largest expansion projects ever” which was called ‘Beyond Big Thunder’ and that is going to be a relatively new addition to the park.

Disney CEO plays coy on resort blueprint

When the Disney Imagineer, Michael Hundgen, the site portfolio executive for Walt Disney World, disclosed that the new area of the park would extend beyond the already developed wetland and woods that are at the back of Big Thunder Mountain, this area suddenly became the boundary of a major new investment. The prototype of the new portion is believed to be commensurate in size to that of the 14-acre Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

Though the media is full of frequent news stories regarding the development, the CEO of Disney, Bob, kept a sceptical position when posed with questions about the company’s entire resort blueprint.

“You know, we have a lot of projects in development,” Iger stated.

“Many of them are known to us. But we disclose these at a cadence and when we really feel we’re ready, and we have something more tangible to show people.” This measured approach has left many wondering about the specifics of the upcoming developments.

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The intrigue deepened considering that Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, has been hinting at potential expansions for some time. At the 2022 D23 Expo, a fan event, the audience’s enthusiasm peaked with the mention of a possible Coco-themed land, potentially incorporating elements from Encanto.

D’Amaro even showcased concept art for what he termed Beyond Big Thunder Mountain at Walt Disney World: Encanto, which would fuse the film into railroad ride.

Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Officer at Walt Disney Imagineering, echoed this sentiment at the previous year’s D23 event, labelling the future expansion plans for Magic Kingdom in Florida as the park’s largest to date, with a scope mirroring that of Galaxy’s Edge.

The reasons behind Iger’s vague responses remain a topic of speculation

It’s possible that Disney is gearing up for a grand reveal at this year’s D23 event, scheduled for August 8-11. Alternatively, there could be other factors at play.

This air of mystery also shrouded last month’s Anaheim City Planning Commission meeting, where Disney sought zoning “flexibility” for its DisneylandForward initiative. The meeting lasted six hours and saw residents questioning Ken Potrock, a Disney executive, about the lack of clarity regarding the specific attractions and experiences planned for a $1.9 billion overhaul of Disneyland.

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The DisneylandForward project aims to bring new lands and adventures to the park, “With DisneylandForward and more flexibility within our existing properties, new lands and adventures like those underway at Tokyo DisneySea and Shanghai Disneyland could inspire new experiences here.”

In line with the request for “flexibility” in Anaheim, Iger emphasized the impracticality of prematurely committing the entirety of Disney’s $60 billion budget to specific projects.

Disney recently decided to withdraw its legal challenge against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, a board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, which had been at the centre of a contentious dispute. Disney chose to pursue a settlement with the state authorities.

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