Could Walt Disney World finally be getting some exciting new land expansions? Disney has teased some major projects over the last couple of years that would give a few of the newer IPs their own attractions and breathe life into old lands.

Since the unveiling of Universal’s Epic Universe, The Walt Disney Company has been under increasing pressure from stakeholders and fans alike to bring something new to its parks. 

Rumors and speculation are rife and, during the 2024 Q1 earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked about a potential fifth park at Walt Disney World. He stated, “We’re hard at work determining where to place our investments. You can assume that they’ll be placed all over [the parks].” 

This sounds less like Disney will be opening a fifth theme park in Florida and more like gradual expansion increases in the parks worldwide. While not 100% official, these projects could be the first step in this plan at Walt Disney World…

Beyond Big Thunder

disney concept art for beyond big thunder
Coco and Disney Villains are two ideas being floated to expand Magic Kingdom beyond Big Thunder Mountain.

One of the most exciting projects that Disney has said it’s considering is Beyond Big Thunder. This area would stretch behind Frontierland, past where Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is located. 

Very early concept art shared by Disney shows a highly-anticipated Villain land in this area. We think that this would be a great way to combat Epic Universe’s Dark Universe, which opens in 2025 alongside a slew of other brilliant themed lands.

Who might feature in this land, we hear you ask? While nothing has been confirmed, from the characters that already make appearances in Magic Kingdom, it would make sense that Maleficent, Gaston, Cruella de Vil, Jafar, and Ursula were involved.

It’s even possible that Ernesto De La Cruz could make an appearance if a Coco-themed area also materializes beyond Big Thunder Mountain in Magic Kingdom. This was teased by Josh D’Amaro in 2022 but we haven’t heard much about it since.

An Encanto-themed land was originally slated to be part of this expansion but, as you’ll see in the next section, this is likely no longer the case.

Quite a few attraction updates are already coming to the Magic Kingdom in 2024. Many of these are in the Frontierland section of the park, the area that would lead to this new expansion.

DinoLand U.S.A. Replacement

Over in Animal Kingdom, we’ll likely get an official confirmation for a DinoLand U.S.A. replacement in the next couple of years.

Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks Chairman, shared some very early concept art at the D23 Expo in September 2022. The original artwork featured Zootopia and Moana as a replacement for DinoLand U.S.A., however, at Destination D23 in 2023, new concept art was shown which featured Encanto and Indiana Jones instead.

D’Amaro also shared that this Tropical Americas-themed land would feature stories from both IPs and that Imagineers are currently in the process of drawing inspiration from South and Central America.

The above concept art features Casa Madrigal from Encanto on the left and an Indiana Jones-style temple on the right, with a central hub that joins the two areas.

Disney later announced that the It’s Tough to Be a Bug! show in Animal Kingdom will be replaced with a Zootopia-themed show. So it’s possible that this could carry on into DinoLand U.S.A. The concept art for this shows an Officer Clawhauser animatronic, similar to the one in Shanghai Disneyland, will replace the iconic Hopper.

It’s important to note that these Blue Sky plans are nowhere near 100% confirmed, though they’re important enough that Disney chose to share them. With major new expansions happening over in Universal, it's likely that Disney will start to confirm some big projects soon.