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What Could Walt Disney World Use 1000 More Acres of Land For?

Headlines lit up this week with word that Disney has bought an additional 1000 acres of land adjacent to Walt Disney World. At a cost of $23 million, the mouse bought a parcel known as “BK Ranch” (not a new Burger King sandwich) right next to Disney property in Osceola County.

The land has been zoned for development for quite some time. Considering the size, it could (should?) have rivaled Celebration with space and zoning for thousands of homes as well as retail/office space. However, that didn’t happen and now the mouse has control of the future fate of the land. But why?

According to an interview with Growthspotter, Westhampton Realty owner Jerry McGratty said that he thinks Disney bought the property for “water management needs.” More importantly, his opinion was that the company would never develop the property.

While he could be right on water management, this land could be used as a conservation parcel as well. When Walt Disney World was originally purchased, 7,500 acres of the 30,000 acres was set aside as conservation land. Could this new land purchase also be considered conservation land and thus, you could build on the existing Walt Disney World property conservation land? Quite possibly.

In addition, you could make the case for existing infrastructure to be shuffled off of Walt Disney property to eventually take up some of the space in this new land purchase. Office buildings like Team Disney, Walt Disney World Casting, costuming buildings, maintenance facilities, all could be moved to a central location offsite if necessary. Thus freeing up land on the existing WDW property for future development/expansion.

Why? The initial purchase of Walt Disney World got them through 50 years (and then some) but at some point, you have to look even beyond Walt and Roy’s original vision. This land could be a gateway to helping expand the property for very very long term growth by allowing some land currently used to be repurposed and shuffled for better use in the future.

Do I think there is a solid plan for this property right now? No. In a time where Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is booming, it makes sense to acquire more assets to put on the books. They will most likely not use the land for some time until they decide what to do with it. If they decide not to use it? They could just as easily flip it again. But I have a feeling this was more of a “why not?” situation than being part of a huge master plan for the future. Not yet anyway. Your thoughts?

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