You shall be called to answer to the elders for this.
Just to show the potential for growth within the current parks lets look at the yearly attendence with the average daily attendence and a guesstimated max capacity.
I hope this makes sense.
Yearly attendence: 17,060,000
Average daily attendence: 46,739
Maximum Capacity: 70,000
Yearly attendence: 10,930,000
Average daily attendence: 29,945
Maximum Capacity: 85,000
Disney Hollywood Studios
Yearly attendence: 9,510,000
Average daily attendence: 26,045
Maximum Capacity: 45,000
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Yearly attendence: 9,490,000
Average daily attendence: 26,000
Maximum Capacity: 38,000
So you can see that there is a lot of room for growth with the theme parks. Of course you don't want it running a capacity every day (well as a business owner you do) but you want to increase the crowd levels and ability to accept form guests.
Clearly if you are looking at it from a percentage of occupancy point of view EPCOT is the biggest failure!
But with DAK and DHS you would want to open space, so that you could increase the potential for more guests.
Anyways just fun with numbers.
As much as I'd love to see Disney build a 5th park, there is SOOOO much that could and should be done with the existing parks first.
It boggled my mind why the Magic Kingdom has not had a significant attraction built inside of it since Splash Mountain. MGM could sure use HUGE amounts of love in order to make it an all-day park. The Animal Kingdom needs another land and lots more to do. Epcot is in the best shape, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't use another attraction or two.
I just wouldn't want another half-day park. That would make 3 out of 5.
I think the main problem is that things are going so good down there that there is no incentive for them to make a huge investment into the existing parks. If they do nothing to the parks, people are still going to come. That shouldn't be the mentality concerning WDW, but it seems to be what it is. Most of the investment in WDW seems to be in things like shopping and hotels. Booooor-ing.
The figures Eric posted on the 4 parks' attendance are very telling. Until average attendance is much closer to maximum capacity, a "traditional" 5th gate park makes no sense at all. But a 5th gate boutique park does. It would be very unlikely a 5th gate boutique park would cannabilize any of the attendance at the other 4 parks. It would be a complement and an extra excursion for those with deep enough pockets to afford it. Those that could afford it would likely still spend as many vacation days in the 4 main parks and either stay an extra day for the 5th gate experience or just cut one of their regular park days short for it. As to adding to the existing parks, unless their studies and surveys show proof the addition of more attractions will positively boost overall WDW attendance, we're unlikely to see too many additions. Just a few spaced here and there to keep guests coming back for whatever is new and give marketing something to "promo". And those strategically timed new additions are typically timed with removal of something else that's not cranking the visitor numbers. That frees up personnel and maintenance dollars for operation of whatever's new.
Despite the emotional attachment that many/most of us here have with Disney, it is first and foremost a business and seeks to squeeze the most dollars out of every investment it makes. It's not going to invest money unless it sees a strong potential for significant returns on the investment either in the form of overall WDW attendance boosts or direct returns in the form of more per-guest spending, regardless of how much us fans might want something.....i.e. Beastly Kingdomme, DisneySea-type 5th gate, etc.
I stand by my earlier statement. There will never be a true 5th gate
Now if you look at those numbers it is clear why they haven't added a major E-Ticket to MK in the past 20 years.
But drawing new visitors to WDW and having them experience the non-MK parks is essential.
That is also why we will start seeing more 'festivals' and 'events' at the other parks.
While I agree that a boutique park isn't for me...there are a couple of economic facts that we all are missing here.
The fact is, that while some of the population are struggling to hold onto their homes, there is a growing segment that is getting richer all the time.
Fact is that while there is still money out there to be had, it is in the hands of a small set of people. So, Disney has to start taking advantage of these people. That's why we have the new Deluxe Dining Plan. That's why I can't reserve a deluxe resort on short notice.
Honestly, if they truly make this a premium park, it should not take away from the other parks it should be value-added and pay for itself (in terms of ticket price and merchandise).
They have to make money from the people who have it, right?