Walt Disney World announces desire to expand by converting wetlands


When Walt Disney World was approved to convert up to 350 acres of conservation land into resort infrastructure and theme park attractions in exchange for adding thousands of acres of conservation area to their Disney Wilderness Preserve, everyone thought this was a good deal, but wondered if the request would be enough. Turns out the answer is no.

Disney is now petitioning to expand that request to destroy wetlands in the resort up to 575 acres. According to Disney that number went up after “additional planning and a more comprehensive analysis.” (also known as someone higher up saying, hey… let’s not have to do this again in 5 years, figure out a way to ask for more now.)

In a statement a Walt Disney World spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler said, “This permit modification continues our longstanding commitment to responsible growth and environmental stewardship in a way that will contribute to Florida’s conservation for years to come.”

With major expansions and infrastructure planned or underway, Disney will need this flexibility if they want to keep up with demand for its product. Possible uses include more backstage support buildings, hotels, or even new attractions or theme parks — imagine that.

The majority of the newly requested acres for expansion will be in the Magic Kingdom area. This includes the park, resort hotels, as well as the wetlands and backstage areas surrounding it. The second largest planned expansion would come between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and ESPN WWOS where there is also a large area of undeveloped wetlands.

Feedback from environmentalists has been mostly positive. The land Disney is converting to permanent conservation area had been slated to become a housing development. Instead it will provide a valuable bridge for animals who regularly migrate through the area and help keep the headwaters of the Everglades healthy.

Finally, the application also indicates that the Flamingo Crossings project near State Road 429 could expand by as much as 600 acres. That’s twice the size of the Disneyland Resort.

What do you think of Disney’s plans for expansion? Have they been too slow to grow to meet demand? Do you think the resort could support a fifth gate?

(via Orlando Sentinel)

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13 thoughts on “Walt Disney World announces desire to expand by converting wetlands

  1. Violet Voss

    YES I do believe Disney needs to grow. I think this is a GREAT IDEA. Should have happened a long time ago, the people love it there and I believe we could use more magic.

  2. Mike E.

    I would LOVE to see a 5th gate, only if it is done correctly.

    I would design the 5th gate to have more aggressive thrill rides, themed roller coasters, like “California Screamin” at California Adventure. I would cater this to the teen and young adult genre, who don’t find the other 4 gates not exciting or thrilling enough.

  3. Mark

    Read this in the paper today and my first thought was GREAT! You should mention their conservation efforts in Osceola and Polk Counties. They restore a lot more than they develop.

  4. PJ

    It can’t even properly develop Hollywood Studios. How about getting that right before destroying any wetlands?

  5. John

    This does seem like a pretty one-sided summary. Don’t ignore Disney’s conservation efforts elsewhere or their agreement to preserve roughly ten times the amount of land they develop.

  6. Jones

    So mow they need more land – maybe they shoould never have sold anything… looking at the size of the property as it was on 1971, I can only wonder why the ever decided to sell so much…

  7. Charles

    I agree with Violet and Mark. Disney definitely builds up and restores more than anything else. “Destroy” is just not an accurate or fair term to use here.

    I’ve heard rumors of a heroes vs. villains thrill-ride-oriented 5th gate for well over a decade now. I’d love to see that happen.

  8. Brian Rollman

    A 5th Gate is great idea but before that happens Disney need to seriously need to give EPCOT some tlc. I know they have allot going but this poor park really needs it. Future world right now feels stuck in the past and World Showcase Pavilions need to be brought into the present, Circle vision movies just don’t do it anymore. Every country needs to do what Norway is doing with the frozen ride and put something that will attract people to visit.

  9. Logan Jamison

    I feel like the idea of a 5th gate is not the smartest idea. I feel like Disney needs to develop their current 4 gates at Disney World. I feel like they still have a lot they can do with Hollywood Studios along with Animal Kingdom. Most people already see those 2 parks as half day parks and i feel like adding another gate would only create another half day park. Along with that Disney also needs to give Epcot some big refurbishments before they consider adding another gate. So in my opinion with this expansion in new land they will add more hotels and probably a golf course i highly doubt they are considering a 5th gate at this point.

  10. Justin

    I think the expansion is a great idea. I would think the 3 most important things Disney should use with the extra space are to expand both Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios and bring them closer to the size of Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. That’s 1 and 2. 3 would be to possibly eliminate the parking lots at each of the parks(crazy I know, but read on) and create a central parking area(similar to the Transportation & Ticket Center) at the center of the entire resort that would be where everyone “driving in cars and/or non-Disney buses” would park for the day and use a centralized transportation center to get around the resort complex. That way the three parks aside from Magic Kingdom will get the same other worldy appeal as Magic Kingdom does by not having the parking lot so close to the park entrance. As for the people staying on-site, the usual transportation currently in effect would remain.

    1. Robert Reid

      OH MY GOODNESS, i have never heard this idea before. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!! but and here is the HUGE but, you know damn well disney execs are not fond of the way the parking is now for the MK. taking folks a half hour to get INTO the park is only potential money lost on consumer spending. this im sure is how they see it. so as much as i lover you walt disney inspired idea, im sure it would never happen.

  11. Bryan R

    I agree I want to see a new park be built but I don’t see it happening for several more years down the road. They need to spruce up DHS and EPCOT and finish Avatar before worrying about a new park. I would love to see one in the future though with more thrill type rides. I think a Heroes vs. Villains theme sounds great. Bring back a proper dueling coaster since Dueling Dragons (I refuse to call it Dragon Challenge) is no longer running at the same time.

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