Josh D’Amaro Confirms “Beyond Big Thunder” and Dinoland USA Teases Are Part of $17 Billion Florida Investment

Remember that cryptic teaser/announcement at the D23 Expo last year? Turns out those were plans after all, and earlier today, Josh D’Amaro confirmed that the Dinoland Demolition and what’s Beyond Big Thunder are included in the $17 billion investment announced by Bob Iger recently.

What’s Happening:

  • While Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro was participating in a Q&A session at the JP Morgan Global Technology, Media & Communications Conference earlier today, he confirmed that the plans teased as “thought provoking ideas” at the D23 Expo in Anaheim last fall, are in fact projects included in the proposed $17 billion dollar investment at Walt Disney World.

  • Announced during Disney’s 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, Bob Iger revealed when asked about the situation with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, that Disney had the intent of investing $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years.
  • Devotees will recall that D’Amaro announced he was “sure to make some fans nervous” when he set his eyes on Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for new areas and attractions based on two Walt Disney Animation Studios films, Moana, and Zootopia.
  • D’Amaro was then joined by Chris Beatty from Walt Disney Imagineering and Jennifer Lee from Walt Disney Animation Studios as they discussed thinly veiled plans as “suggestions” for what can be done with the corner of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • Mentioning that the area could be home to some characters from Walt Disney Animation Studios (and forgetting that DINOSAUR is a film from that same studio), they mentioned some thoughts on what could be injected into that area, and still retain the animal theme of the park.
  • The “what if” session continued, pitching a recreation of Santa Cecilia from Coco was introduced showing the potential of an experience based on the Pixar Animation Studios film. Jennifer Lee took over and showcased the idea of an Encanto–themed plaza, and the iconic casita that belongs to the Madrigals, with the potential of opening each family member’s door.
  • Then, D’Amaro, excited by the idea, discussed something with Chris Beatty that has been on the tongues of Disney Parks Fans since the 90’s – the possibility that maybe, just maybe, a land devoted to Disney Villains lies in the area beyond Big Thunder Mountain.

  • Showing another piece of “thought provoking” art, the three unveiled that all three of these ideas could lie together in the space beyond Big Thunder Mountain at Walt Disney World.
  • The art showcases a looming land of villains in the shadows of the distance, anchored on both sides by both Coco and Encanto themed experiences with the spires of Big Thunder Mountain in the foreground.
  • Today’s Q&A session not only included these ideas as part of the $17 billion investment budget, but also revealed that the now-canceled Lake Nona campus was never part of those funds.
  • D’Amaro also indicated/reminded fans that they currently have plenty of space to expand the parks beyond the berm at both Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park.
  • However, it should be noted that though D’Amaro confirmed these projects are included in that $17 billion budget, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger noted on the recent Q2 earnings call, that the company might be reconsidering that investment thanks to the current back and forth between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

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Tony Betti
Originally from California where he studied a dying artform (hand-drawn animation), Tony has spent most of his adult life in the theme parks of Orlando. When he’s not writing for LP, he’s usually watching and studying something animated or arguing about “the good ole’ days” at the parks.