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Will a Fifth Park Be Constructed at Disney World?

Will a Fifth Park Be Constructed at Disney World?

Will a Fifth Park Be Built at Disney World?

Rumors and hypothesis are once more flying a few fifth gate at Walt Disney World. I’ll make a not-so-bold prediction: Disney gained’t construct a fifth theme park in Florida any time quickly. Need a bolder prediction? Nobody studying this may see a fifth gate at Walt Disney World of their lifetime. (Up to date July 13, 2022.)

To be clear, we’re speaking fifth theme park gate–none of that ‘water theme park’ nonsense. (And in any case, it looks as if Disney is completely content material working just one water park in Orlando proper now, so including a 3rd appears extremely unlikely.) This can be a matter we’ve touched upon beforehand (final time resulting from main land purchases by Disney round Central Florida), however felt it was price revisiting for a number of causes.

We’ll begin with the elephant within the room: Common’s Epic Universe, the third theme park being inbuilt Central Florida by Comcast. On current earnings calls, that firm’s executives have praised the success of their parks of their post-reopening restoration. This can be a massive motive why Epic Universe is full steam forward, and slated to open by Summer season 2025. Many followers need Walt Disney World to have an “reply” to Epic Universe, and the one factor that may actually compete with a brand new theme park is a brand new theme park. 

That completely won’t occur. Even when Disney wished to construct a brand new theme park and introduced one right this moment, there’s a 0.000% likelihood the corporate might have it open by Summer season 2025. Disney remains to be within the strategy of cloning a curler coaster in an empty warehouse it introduced 5 years in the past and has been constructing for over 4 years.

From what I perceive, a whole theme park is significantly extra elaborate than even a number of empty warehouses. (A few of the warehouses would, presumably, be crammed with issues.) In different phrases, if TRON Lightcycle Run is a dependable gauge of the corporate’s development tempo, Disney might open a brand new theme park in roughly 2077 if development started right this moment. Maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic…possibly 2055. 😉

That assumes that Disney needs to construct one other theme park in Central Florida proper now, and that’s completely not the case. In actuality, Disney gained’t have any official reply to Epic Universe. They gained’t acknowledge the venture as a risk or Common as a bona fide competitor. When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened, Disney claimed that “a rising tide lifts all boats” — {that a} stronger Common was helpful to Disney as a result of it attracted extra individuals to Central Florida. That’s inarguably true to some extent, nevertheless it’s additionally spin.

After all, Disney’s tune might change as soon as Epic Universe opens and Common begins siphoning trip time or, extra importantly, lodge stays away from Walt Disney World. That might immediate the corporate to get extra aggressive after the actual fact and give you a solution, nevertheless it nonetheless gained’t be a whole theme park. Now, let’s delve into the why of that.

Once more, we’ll begin with concerns which can be undoubtedly front-of-mind for Florida administration. The large one proper now’s staffing shortages. This appears to come back up in nearly each different publish right here today, and there’s a motive for that: it’s the basis reason behind many issues and why a lot has not returned to regular. It’s the motive force behind park reservations and nearly something that’s nonetheless lacking from the complete Walt Disney World expertise proper now.

The rationale the parks will not be at full capability is solely pushed by staffing shortages, which reduces the overall variety of visitors the parks can accommodate. In a nutshell, if sure leisure and experiences are lacking or the parks are unable to function for as many hours as regular, general park capability decreases. Wait instances are longer regardless that general attendance limits are (considerably) decrease as a result of extra visitors are consolidated into fewer choices.

There’s a sure cynicism amongst followers that that is intentional, so Walt Disney World can cut back its labor and operational prices. That is patently false. It’s correct that Disney needs to right-size its workforce and optimize effectivity throughout regular instances. That’s not what’s presently occurring.

Turning paying clients away throughout a interval of sky-high shopper spending–which is what is occurring proper now–is a far greater hit to income than the minimal price of extra workers. Simply have a look at the dearth of After Hours exhausting ticket events, EPCOT pageant seminars, and different upcharges–all of that are costly add-ons for visitors–that haven’t been occurring. Disney is actually leaving hundreds of thousands of {dollars} on the desk with out these choices. Does anybody actually imagine that’s a deliberate alternative?

There’s plenty of root causes of the labor scarcity itself. As you’re undoubtedly conscious, that is occurring round america–however is especially dangerous in Central Florida resulting from considerably distinctive circumstances. Whereas this may normalize to some extent because the financial system cools and normalizes, it’ll once more be exacerbated by Epic Universe and a slate of different high-profile hospitality trade initiatives on the horizon.

Frankly, I ponder the place Common goes to seek out sufficient frontline workers for Epic Universe. They undoubtedly have a plan as Comcast is a complicated enterprise that would definitely be cognizant of the native labor pool. Regardless, will probably be a problem–and among the smaller gamers which have plans to open in Orlando within the subsequent few years might have a tough time.

Whether or not the native labor market (to not point out the housing market, which is already pricing hospitality trade staff out–that’s the explanation why Disney helps to construct inexpensive housing) can maintain not only one, however two extra parks, is an open query. After all, Walt Disney World has the School Program and numerous different technique of importing momentary staff from out of state–and that might definitely assist present the workforce essential for a fifth gate–however to date that has not been the case for his or her 4 gates within the final couple of years. Even with weekly job gala’s and common recruiting, Disney remains to be falling woefully quick on staffing.

In actuality, if Disney goes to allocate current or extra workers to new developments, they’d most likely prioritize timeshares and inns over a theme park. There’s higher ROI and fewer threat, and people will not be almost as resource-intensive. Personally, I feel Disney is probably going reticent to construct new inns within the near-term, however timeshares are full steam forward.

Past that, there will not be really credible rumors of a fifth gate even being thought of (not to mention actively labored on) for Walt Disney World. What chatter does exist is wishful considering by followers who see the prevailing 4 Walt Disney World theme parks drawing file crowds, and deducing that the answer is extra parks. It’s not a nasty thought, however that doesn’t make it a practical one in step with Disney’s strategy in Florida.

What this wishful considering fails to have in mind is the price of growing and constructing new theme parks versus current ones, the state and trajectory of the worldwide financial system, and the holiday tendencies of potential Walt Disney World guests. From our perspective, just about each dependable indicator is towards Walt Disney World constructing new parks.

Let’s begin with customer patterns. The typical American’s trip is between 4 and 6 days lengthy, relying upon the supply consulted. Extra to the purpose, that common has been on the decline for the final couple of many years, and Individuals are leaving a file variety of trip days on the desk (there’s article after article in regards to the shrinking American trip).

With the period of the common American trip on the decline, including extra gates is a troublesome promote. After factoring in journey days, many Individuals already don’t have sufficient time to expertise all 4 parks plus Disney Springs or water parks plus no matter Common’s parks would possibly siphon away. This is a matter as a result of it essentially implies that a brand new park would cannibalize attendance from the prevailing gates, not less than amongst a superb phase of visitors.

After all, this doesn’t have in mind the guests from Europe who every ‘vacation’ at Walt Disney World for roughly 97 days, and it additionally doesn’t account for the diehard American Disney followers studying this who go for 7-10 days yearly.

As at all times, there are outliers–and people of you studying this who measure your annual time at Walt Disney World in weeks are precisely that. The typical visitor is solely not visiting for that lengthy, and it’s necessary that we don’t confuse our personal anecdotal experiences for the norm.

This pertains to the theoretical fifth gate as a result of the idea would wish to suit inside Walt Disney World’s current construction as a trip vacation spot. Not when it comes to theme, however when it comes to time allocation. That is the place all that blue sky fan daydreaming falls aside.

If nearly all of guests to Walt Disney World don’t have one other park day so as to add, that fifth gate is a nonstarter. Heck, if even 30% of Walt Disney World guests don’t have one other potential park day, that’s a major problem. This is able to imply that, for a lot of potential Walt Disney World guests, the day to attend that theoretical fifth gate wouldn’t come from a seashore day or be reallocated from one other theme park in Orlando, it’d largely come on the expense of Walt Disney World’s current parks.

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Now, you would possibly level to current crowds in every of the 4 parks and say, “good.” From a visitor perspective, there’s large attraction in easing the burden on the prevailing parks, and lowering attendance at every of them. I can promise you that Disney doesn’t view issues equally. Decreased attendance at any of the prevailing parks, even when it meant increased attendance in mixture, could be a damaging. (Don’t imagine them after they say the other–decreasing attendance isn’t one in every of Disney’s precise objectives.)

Assuming for the sake of argument that Disney does have a problem with present park crowd ranges (they don’t), the simpler and more cost effective resolution is the one we’ve been seeing over the past a number of years: increasing the prevailing parks. Walt Disney World is constructing out the capability of its current gates with points of interest like Remy’s Ratatouille Journey, the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster, TRON Lightcycle Energy Run, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Whereas every of those additions is more likely to induce extra demand than it’ll add capability (one other matter for one more day), this strategy of increasing the footprint of current parks is advantageous from Disney’s perspective as a result of it retains infrastructure prices decrease. It additionally doesn’t require playing massive on a brand new, untried idea and having to throw extra money at that sooner or later to spice up its reputation.

With a brand new park comes new turnstiles, new backstage services, new roads, transportation hubs, and different infrastructure that already exists in help of the prevailing theme parks. These infrastructure bills will not be insignificant, and it’s tough to justify their expenditures when the prevailing parks might be built-out with out incurring all of those identical prices.

That’s to say nothing of labor prices, which might even be increased with a brand new gate versus an current gate with added capability. Merely put, increasing the prevailing parks is the conservative, cost-effective, and low-risk strategy.

Let’s say you continue to disagree with our evaluation for some motive, and assume Walt Disney World management views a fifth gate as a “good thought” that’s on the horizon. Timing-wise, when do you see Walt Disney World constructing one other theme park?

Personally, I discover it tough to take a look at current choices and conclude, “that is management with a grand imaginative and prescient!” On the contrary, they appear content material milking what already exists, making an attempt methods to extend per visitor spending, whereas boasting about issues like yield administration somewhat their inventive imaginative and prescient. As a way to guess massive on a fifth gate (or something bold) they should have the ambition and guts to broaden. Suppose again to the largest Walt Disney World information of the final couple years…does any of that scream “inventive imaginative and prescient and ambition” to you?

Past that, there are indicators of a looming recession or slowdown, declines in shopper confidence, and the journey phase is more likely to see pent-up demand fizzle out within the coming months. After all, no matter is introduced right this moment would open in a distinct surroundings–possibly debuting throughout an financial enlargement or restoration years from now. Nonetheless, constructing throughout a downturn requires imaginative and prescient and boldness.

From my perspective, the “greatest case” situation for Disney’s boldness proper now’s seeing the resilience of its theme parks within the final couple of years whereas additionally realizing that direct-to-consumer streaming providers will not be the sturdy enterprise mannequin they as soon as thought. In such a situation, the corporate’s leaders might really feel emboldened to put money into Walt Disney World. Even then, these budgets shall be pointed at increasing capability in current parks.

As for a fifth park at Walt Disney World someday past that within the long-term, something is feasible. I do know that I made the “not in our lifetimes” prediction initially of the publish, however that was extra for the sake of a bombastic prediction. I personally don’t assume that I’ll ever see a fifth gate, however I’ve been improper loads of instances earlier than.

Plus, evidently each time a prognostication exceeds a 5 12 months horizon, individuals are likely to overlook about it. I’ve seen different Disney commentators share their very own “rumors” with regard to fifth gates years in the past that ought to have come to fruition by now and nobody has known as them on it, so it felt like a protected factor to say. 😉

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Your Ideas

Do you assume a fifth gate is on the horizon at Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with our causes as to why one is unlikely within the foreseeable future? Another ideas or commentary so as to add? Any questions we may also help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even while you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas beneath within the feedback!

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