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Today, we are talking the biggest rumor in the mill. The elusive fifth gate.
I have to preface this post with the fact that I worked in transportation and infrastructure for a number of years. I nerd out on this topic and was excited to sit down and write about it. One of the biggest misconceptions regarding building and maintaining roads or adding infrastructure in developing and developed cities is that adding more lines to highways, increasing the number of transportation options will decrease the number of people on the roads.
Through many town halls, we were always asked why we didn’t funnel funds to simply increasing the number of lanes on the main thoroughfare’s. If you build more lanes it will spread out the number of people on the road right? Problem solved.
The truth for this type of situation is, if you build it, they will come.
The same type of “solution” is often brought up in Disney forums among fans. Just build a fifth gate and spread the crowds out, problem solved. Well, it turns out, it really isn’t that easy. The more you build, the more you market, the more you market, the more you entice people to visit, the more people who visit, the more infrastructure is required to hold them, the more infrastructure that you build, especially in the travel and tourism business and especially for a mega company like The Walt Disney Company with a marketing and operations budget, most companies can only gawk at, the more people you can hold and yes, more will come.
When Disney fans refer to a fifth gate, they are referring to a fifth theme park to be built at Walt Disney World. A fifth gate has been rumored for decades but it has never been as realistic of an option for The Walt Disney Company as it is today.
With the company positively booming in all aspects including park attendance, intellectual property, television and film, merchandise and more, Disney certainly is in the financial position to consider a fifth gate.
Back in 2005, The Walt Disney Company owned enough land in Central Florida to cover the entire City of San Francisco California. More recently, at the end of 2018, The Walt Disney Company acquired an additional 965 more acres of land southeast of the town of Celebration. This acquisition got fans excited and thinking that finally, a fifth gate was eminent. But, was it?
When Walt Disney originally acquired and began to develop land in Central Florida he did so conservatively and with the promise that much of the land owned by the company would always remain undeveloped and be dedicated as conservation land. This still holds true today and even with 4 theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs and thirty-four resorts and hotels on the Walt Disney World property, only a small fraction of the property owned by the company has been developed and when the new acreage was purchased, the Walt Disney Company made a statement to WFTV9 that “This parcel will be used for conservation-related and water management needs.”
With that statement were hopes of a fifth gate dashed? Not really because Disney has a whole lot of acreage in their possession to build on and still maintain their promise of land conservation. The total amount of land Disney owns is up for debate but it is just around 40 square miles, around 30,000 acres with one third of that land designated for conservation, Disney has about a third of the land they own to still play with in terms of development, should they choose to do so.
We are not opposed to a fifth gate as long as it’s done right and with the amount of imagineering that has been put into recent additions like Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and with the incredibly detailed plans for the Epcot overhaul, we have no doubt that if Disney does give us a fifth gate, it will be done in Disney fashion and with incredible gusto.
But, fans beware, a fifth gate will come with an increase of crowds. The addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is an increase in available space for guests to go but guests won’t vacation at Disney World and only visit Galaxy’s Edge, those guests will also visit the other theme parks, putting even more of a strain on the already packed Main Street and bustling World Showcase. We are already seeing changes coming to all four theme parks and the Ticket and Transportation Center in preparation for the crowds the new land will bring to all of Walt Disney World.
With the addition of a fifth gate, the already askew crowd calendars will become obsolete as generations of Disney fans will flock to Walt Disney World to not only experience the new but to relive the old. There are pros and cons to a fifth gate but the reality is, we will just have to wait and see what Disney has in store for us. Could this be a big announcement at D23 in August? Stay tuned!
Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.