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A look at the last 10 years of growth at Disney World — and the next 10

19 November 2009 by The Daily Disney - Jason Garcia

Walt Disney World may one day add a fifth theme park. But it won’t happen in the next five years.

At least, that’s according to projections by planners at the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the semi-autonomous government that oversees Disney World.

Reedy Creek is in the midst of updating its 10-year growth plan for state regulators, which includes “projected maximums” in various categories. Reedy Creek’s new projections show no major theme park being added between 2009 and 2013.

On the other hand, Reedy Creek’s new maximums do allow for one major new theme park to be added during the following five years, through 2018. But Reedy Creek officials stress the projections are essentially long-term guess work and not based on Disney’s internal development plans. (It’s also worth noting that Reedy Creek’s previous 10-year forecast, submitted in 1998, also allowed for a fifth theme park to be built; obviously, none ever was.)

The updated projections offer a few other interesting glimpses at how Disney World has grown over the last 10 years and how it might grow over the next 10. For instance:

– The figures underscore how much Disney has emphasized the time-share business in recent years.

Over the last 10 years, the number of hotel rooms at Disney World has grown 13 percent, with 3,252 new rooms (mostly via Disney’s Pop Century Resort) pushing the resort’s overall total to 28,267 rooms. During the same period, the number of Disney Vacation Club at the resort has soared 141 percent, with 2,927 new units (primarily in Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas and the Bay Lake Tower) more than doubling the overall total to 5,000 units.

Looking ahead to the next 10 years, Reedy Creek projects a maximum of 11,300 new hotel rooms — which would be an increase of 40 percent. It projects a maximum of 8,900 new time shares — a 178 percent increase.

– Flamingo Crossings is supposed to be an awfully big driver of Disney World’s growth. Reedy Creek says plans for the “value-oriented” lodging-and-retail district at the western edge of Disney’s property account for 42 percent of the projected hotel rooms, 19 percent of the projected time shares (which would be built by third-party developers, rather than Disney Vacation Club) and 74 percent of projected retail and restaurant space.

Of course, Flamingo Crossings has to get off the ground at all first. (More on that here.)

– While Reedy Creek is once again allowing for one major new theme park to be built over the next 10 years, it estimates only two new minor theme parks (Disney’s two water parks and the Wide World of Sports complex are classified as minor parks).

That’s down from the three new minor parks that Reedy Creek projected 10 years ago. Then again, during that period, the total number actually dropped, from 4 to 3, with the closing of the Disney’s River Country water park.

– As big as Disney World is — and it’s roughly 40 square miles — even it has limits. Reedy Creek says if all of its maximum projections come true, the development would consume an estimated 2,688 acres. That’s almost all of the 2,721 acres of untouched, developable land that Reedy Creek says it has today.

But it’s highly unlikely that all of the maximums will be reached. There’s quite a bit of room for in-fill development on Disney World’s already-developed land, too


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