What Would Walt Disney World's Fifth Theme Park Look Like?

Cinderella Castle
Cinderella Castle

Walt Disney World near Orlando, FL draws tens of millions of guests to its gates every year. It's four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom) are one-of-a-kind destinations that entice people to visit from all over the globe. It's often said that "The saddest part of any Disney vacation is leaving." This expression is very true: people just cannot get enough Disney. This causes many people to wonder "What's Next?"

It would behoove to clarify that The Walt Disney Company has not announced any plans to build a fifth theme park at the time of this writing. However, with the entire Walt Disney World Resort covering an area of over 40 square miles, expansion is inevitable. After all, Walt Disney himself said "Disneyland (in California) will never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world." Imagineers have plenty of imagination with plenty of land to show that imagination to the world.

Park 
Opening Date 
Magic Kingdom 
October 1, 1971 
Epcot (formerly EPCOT Center) 
October 1, 1982 
Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly (Disney's MGM Studios) 
May 1, 1989 
Disney's Animal Kingdom
April 22, 1998

Overdue?

The above graph shows the opening dates of every theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Based on the table, a new park opened roughly every ten years.  At the time of this writing, the newest park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, is just over 13 years old.  Based on this calculation alone, it is a fairly safe assumption that Disney is currently working on Walt Disney World's fifth gate.  It takes roughly 5-10 years to plan a modern theme park, and thus it is fair to speculate on what another Disney park in Florida may look like.

Of course, also at the time of this writing, Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Expansion is well under construction.  While it will certainly be a fantastic addition to the park, the price tag is nowhere near that of a new theme park.  It's a major addition, but that should not distract from the possibility of a completely new park. 

Park 
Resort 
Location 
Magic Kingdom 
Walt Disney World Resort 
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA 
Epcot 
Walt Disney World Resort  
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA  
Disney's Hollywood Studios 
Walt Disney World Resort  
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA  
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World Resort
Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Resort
Anaheim, CA, USA
Disney's California Adventure
Disneyland Resort
Anaheim, CA, USA
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Paris Resort
Marne-la-Vallée, France
Walt Disney Studios Paris
Disneyland Paris Resort
Marne-la-Vallée, France
Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo DisneySea
Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo, Japan
Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland Resort
Hong Kong, China
Shanghai Disneyland (Under Construction)
Shanghai Disney Resort
Shanghai, China

So what has Disney already done?

Above is a table of every Disney park, including Shanghai Disneyland, which just broke ground two months ago. An important part of spectulating what Disney will do is to have a firm understanding of what Disney has already done.

There are twelve theme parks (current and upcoming) at six different resorts. Each of these resorts has one Disneyland-style park. These include the original Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland. Obviously, the fifth Walt Disney World park would not be another Disneyland-style park, since the resort already has Magic Kingdom. Furthermore, it would not recreate any of the other parks currently at the resort. Eliminating the six Disneyland-style parks as well as the other three parks at Walt Disney World leaves just three other possibilities. Of those possibilities, Walt Disney Studios Paris may also be eliminated, since it is essentially the Paris version of Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure
Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure

Two Candidates for Inspiration

These eliminations leave only two parks that Walt Disney World's fifth gate may use as inspiration; Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, and Tokyo DisneySea in Tokyo.

Essentially, Disney California Adventure is a celebration of the great state of California. California is one of the most diverse states in the country. It's famous for Hollywood, beaches, wineries, beautiful redwood forests, the gold rush; California has so much to offer. Disney California Adventure is a culmination of all these things.

Tokyo DisneySea, however, is arguably Disney's most unique park. It celebrates the sea and all the cultures that have been based upon the sea. From Lost River Delta to the American Waterfront, from Mermaid Lagoon to the Mediterranean Harbor, Tokyo DisneySea is diverse in its lands with one unified theme, the sea.

Either of these parks would make a great addition to Walt Disney World. Both parks are very unique and have a diverse and fantastic set of attractions. "Disney Florida Adventure" could celebrate the fantastic beaches, the Everglades, the Keys, the lush greenery of the forests, orange groves; the list goes on. "DisneySea" could celebrate the sea in the same fashion as Tokyo DisneySea, though it would need to differentiate itself from the likes of both SeaWorld Orlando and Universal's Islands of Adventure. This could easily be done though, as SeaWorld mostly deals with aquatic animals, and Islands of Adventure has a broad range of themes with diverse franchises.

What about Theme?

Some might say Disney is pretty talented at coming up with unique ideas, and I would have to agree. Disney tends to make what they put into Walt Disney World different from the other Disney parks, even if what is added does draw inspiration from another Disney park. It's a very good possibility that Walt Disney World's fifth gate is like something we've never seen before.

At this point, it's important to ask what has Walt Disney World already done theme-wise. This is not to say what stories or franchises Disney has already based an attraction upon, but what feelings or emotions Disney has driven into the parks they've already developed. Magic Kingdom is spectacular, with the wonder and fantasy that has made Disney famous. Epcot is all about exploration, whether it's traveling to another country or to Mars. Disney's Hollywood Studios is about splendor and magic, but not necessarily fairytale magic, but the magic of Hollywood. Finally, Disney's Animal Kingdom is all about discovery, whether it's discovering an Iguanadon or a Yeti, or discovering the courageous youngster within.

Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea
Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea

What's Next?

There are several possible themes for Walt DIsney World's next park. A strong candidate is a park based on adventure. Some might say that this theme is too similar to Universal's Islands of Adventure, but adventure is a broad theme. Besides, both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens and even Disney's Animal Kingdom have adventure-like themes. It would be easy to prevent the parks from conflicting.

Adventure would be a great choice because it really unites all generations, unlike fairytale magic which tends to single out children, or movies which tend to have a specific age group of fans. Adventure opens numerous possibilities, including the previously mentioned two parks that may be used for inspiration. Maybe even a hybrid of the two ideas, since Florida has the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Oceans, rivers, swamps, lakes, and lagoons. Disney could even invent their own realm completely from scratch. Maybe a land that celebrates all of the traditional elements; a city built under the sea, a city inside a volcano, a city in the sky, and a city underground. It could be a park based on myths and legends of all kinds; lands with thousand of different journeys, where guests feel like true adventuers.

Disney could try for something whimsical. Much of Disney is bright and colorful, but little of it is particularly off-kilter and odd. It's possible Disney could tie this into a darker or serious park with a slight horror theme. Even though they try to limit these types of attractions (remember Alien Encounter?), it's clear the Imagineers love creating attractions like this, like The Haunted Mansion and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The designers would need to be very careful, but it could certainly be done.

What Do We Know For Sure?

Whatever the fifth gate might be, it will be made for the whole family. That's why these parks exist. The park will take guests places they have never been, and likely places they've never even dreamed. Theme parks are meant to tell compelling stories and transport guests into new worlds.

That is the most important part of any of Disney's attractions: the story. Disney's attractions are treated just like books or movies or stage productions. The difference is that park guests jump into roles and experience a story firsthand.

The fifth gate will excite and intrigue all guests, and guests will come back for more. Disney invented this theme park business. If a fifth park at Walt Disney World is ever announced, it will be big news. Watch for it!

Comments 10 comments

talfonso profile image

talfonso 5 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

Great Hub! I have been to ALL 4 Parks and was hoping for number five! I think a Carnival (Venetian, Brazilian, etc) theme would be nice, but it's going to draw in more turismos (especially Brazilian tour groups) than the Magic Kingdom itself! (It's a good thing, since they bring in tourism moolah we Floridians all need!)


Tyler Kochman 4 years ago

There is also the option of a Disney's America-based park desk design. Disney's America was totally unique unbuilt park planned for Haymarket Virginia, and later proposed as a conversion of Knott's Berry Farm.


Tyler Kochman 4 years ago

There is also the option of a Disney's America-based park design. Disney's America was totally unique unbuilt park planned for Haymarket Virginia, and later proposed as a conversion of Knott's Berry Farm.


Tyler Kochman 4 years ago

If built I would say it would wither consist as a hybrid of one or more theme park, a whole new park concept, a DisneySea-based park, or a Disney's America- based park. California Adventure has not fared well enough at the Disneyland Resort, so I do not think they would consider building a DCA based park such as Disney's Floridian Adventure without tremendous hesitation. Although I would very much enjoy a California Screamin ride (such as Floridian Screaming), do not forget that the concept for Paradise Pier was entirely extracted from similar land initially planned for Disney's America in Virginia and California DisneySeas in Long Beach California.


Tyler Kochman 4 years ago

As I just stated, Paradise Pier was concieved prior to the concept of DCA, as similar lands had been initially planned for Disney's America and California DisneySeas. Both parks were never built, although TDS (Tokyo DisneySea) was bases off the planned California park, abliet several differentiating factors. TDS lacks such lands as Oceania, Venture Reefs, Fleets of Fantasy, Future Research Center, and Boardwalk and Rainbow Pier which was to be a Paradise Pier-like land. TDS has several lands not planned for California such as Mediterranean Harbor, Mermaid Lagoon, American Waterfront, Port Discovery, Arabian Coast, and Lost River Delta. Both park designs include the Mysterious Island. The Californian park was to be 225 acres with its icon being a 200 foot tall building in Oceania and have 5 Disney-owned resort hotels nearby. TDS is 176 acres, its icons are the Aquasphere fountain located outside the park's entry (a similar fountain was planned for WorldPort, located right outside the California park's entry) and the 189 foot tall Mount Prometheous (same height as Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park and Tokyo Dianeyland. A similar version of Mount Prometheous was planned for California) and has 3 Disney-branded hotels nearby (one of them is actually entirely within the park) and 6 third party resort hotels. At Disney's America the Paradise Peir land was to be State Fair. It was to have a California Screamin-like ride and be inspired by 1930's era classic American carnivals and include a baseball demonstration. The version at California DisneySeas was to be Boardwalk and Rainbow Pier. It was to be themed to classic American boardwalk funfairs and include a California Screamin-like ride and a Ferris Wheel. It was also to be a horseshoe shaped land. Therefore we do not need a Florida version of DCA to being California Screamin to Disney World. Besides, we already have many of the main attractions at DCA in Disneyworld. Animal Kingdom has It's Tough to Be a Bug, and Kali River Rapids which is similar to Grizzly River Run. Epcot has Soarin and Test Track which is similar to Radiator Springs Racers. Hollywood Studios has Tower of Terror and Toy Story Midway Mania. Magic Kingdom is getting the Little Mermaid ride.


pat mcgill 3 years ago

The 5th park should be the land of oz kids would love it.since disney made the Oz the Great and Powerful and are making more it would tie in nicely !!!


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 3 years ago

My dream would be a villain park, lol. A place where the villains would finally 'rule'. A little 'darker' than the others (not too dark-- Disney dark, which is just fun). I can imagine fun attractions-- Scar's jungle ride (watch out for the wildebeast stampeeds and prowling hyenas!). Maleficent's dragon coaster. Dr. Facilier's 'Voudou show'. Gaston's shooting gallery. And of course an all-out extravaganza show with all the cool villain songs.


Colin 2 years ago

I'd like to see a park based on different periods in time like stone age, middle ages, renaissance and even the future.

Also a park which is a bit like Universal Islands of adventure would be great with areas like Agrabah, Polynesia, Ancient Greece and Scandinavia.

A park based on legends and Myths from around the World like medieval, mediterannean or african legends.

I have seen a concept of a park which was called Explorer's world and it sounded great. It feautured themed areas called Colombus town, Mystery bay, Arctic mountains, Dinosaur valley, Atlantis, Amazonia, Discovery island and heart of adventure

A park which is based on different regions around the world with the areas museum of exploration(main street meets world bazaar meets museum) the desert kingdom(middle east), the dawn kingdom(Africa), the middle kingdom(middle east), the kingdom of the sun(south america), the wild kingdom(north america), the mediterannean kingdom(mediterannea), the nordic kingdom(scandinavia), the medieval kingdom( middle age brittain), the polynesian kingdom(polynesia), the frozen kingdom ( arctic)

But as I say those ideas, I know that the other parks need improvement with new lands or just new rides. At Walt Disney World I'd like to see new themed lands and rides. I'm just naming the themed lands. At Magic kingdom I want to see a giant fantasyland called Storybookland, where you can visit several places from Disney movies like Arendelle, Neverland, Corona, Wonderland and the Hundred Acre wood. Also a Bog easy area would fit in. This would have Haunted mansion and some rides based on the rescuers and the princess and the frog. At Hollywood studios I want to see lands like Marvel superhero city, a giant Pixar Playland, Star Wars galaxy, Toontown, Tim Burton plaza, Game center, Animation studio, Indiana Jones land and Muppet studio. At Animal kingdom I'd like to see Pandora, Pridelands, Europe, Oceania, North America, South America, Antarctica, Beastly kingdom or mythica, Tarzan's island and a re-themed Dinoland. At epcot I'd like to see more rides at world showcase, more countries at world showcase and new and resurrected pavillions at future world. I have a lot more themed lands for other resorts but this message is already too long haha


Luke 2 years ago

A villain park would be awesome, but I could also be pumped to see marvel land.


PeanutCrunch 9 months ago

Another theme to consider: Interactivity.

It's a large part of our lives, whether through social contact, interaction w/ media (particularly video games) or even interacting with our environment. The entire park should foster that interactive element to truly immerse the attendees, whether through a ride, a live show or even just some element in the environment. These approaches would be leaps and bounds more innovative than your average Dave & Buster's touch-screen game, that's for sure. What's done should help guests feel more immersed in the fantasy than ever before.

I reached this conclusion noting the success of Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story Midway Mania, in addition to the positive response to Universal's deal with Nintendo. By going w/ the broader theme of Interaction, rather than just video games (which Universal could), the park could feel very relevant yet instantly timeless.

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