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$2 BILLION DISNEY EXPANSION PLANNED IN FLORIDA
Published November 14, 1994
The Walt Disney Co. is close to approving the investment of as much as $2B to expand its Orlando theme park by a fourth component to join Epcot Center, MGM Studios and Disney World itself -- tentatively called Animal Kingdom. In considering the expansion, Disney is trying to address two problems: "a general slide in attendance in the last few years and increasing competition" from Universal Studios/Florida, owned by MCA. MCA is planning to add 4,000 hotel rooms at Universal Studios. Disney execs have been trying to decide whether one or more additional attractions at Disney World would draw new visitors or steal customers from other Disney parks in FL. If the board goes ahead, Animal Kingdom, featuring animals from Asia and Africa as well as rides, would be built on 500 acres and open in '98 or '99. The failure of the plan to build Disney's America in VA "might have given Disney's board some incentive to proceed in Orlando, but the contemplated expansion has been under discussion for many months" (Geraldine Fabrikant, N.Y. TIMES, 11/14). In other news, Disney is preparing a nationwide marketing blitz with an eye beyond the "traditional" family in hopes of attracting young couples without children and seniors (AP, 11/13).