Disney to invest $17B in Florida resort, paving way for possible 5th theme park

Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) have a deal.

It lays the groundwork for Disney's expansion in central Florida, highlighted by the company's $17 billion investment and the possibility of a fifth major theme park.

District leaders said the deal is intended to provide "significant capital improvements" within the district. The development agreement is good for 15 years.

"This is a great day in terms of certainty," CFTOD Vice Chair Charbel Barakat said. In terms of economic development, I think the impact is going to be immeasurable."

Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, responded to the agreement's approval with a statement to FOX 35 News.

"This new development agreement paves the way for us to invest billions of dollars in Walt Disney World Resort, supporting the growth of this global destination, fueling the Florida economy, and allowing us to deliver even more memorable and extraordinary experiences for our guests," Vahle said. 

Plans for development aren't specific, but Disney could also build 2 more minor parks, expand hotel room capacity by more than 30% to roughly 53,000, and increase retail and restaurant space by 20%.

RELATED: Universal Orlando expands Epic Universe acreage, nearly doubling original size

John Saccheri, a park blogger with BigFatPanda.com, said Disney’s framework for expansion fuels a battle with Universal Orlando for market share.

"I definitely think there’s a war, Saccheri said. "Don’t let anybody tell you there’s not. There’s definitely a nice fight going on."

Universal's Epic Universe is slated to open in the summer of 2025. The company also announced plans to use 1,300 acres.

"I think Disney has to respond in some way to that, so I do feel like we’re lucky," Saccheri said. "We’re going to get bigger attractions. Hopefully, better attractions and better quality attractions."

An exact timeline for Disney's expansion plans was not released.