Disney World's Rumored Villain Land: News & Everything We Know (2024 Updates)

By Savannah Sanders Posted:
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent, Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is about to bump out the borders of the Magic Kingdom, leading fans to question if the Disney villains are moving in. 

Disney has allegedly been considering a villain-themed ride, a theme park land, and supposedly even a park dedicated to its best baddies since the '90s, all of which were never realized.

This is why fans took notice when Disney floated the possibility of a Magic Kingdom "area overrun by villains" in 2022; and now, thanks to recent developments, this concept seems more likely than ever. 

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What Disney Said About a Villains Land

At the 2022 D23 Expo, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro raised the question of what might be beyond Magic Kingdom's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attraction.

In doing so, he and Imagineering revealed concept art for a whole new land and potential developments at Walt Disney World's signature park, including experiences inspired by Encanto, Coco, and hints for a distant spooky space dedicated to villains.

Disney concept art for

Still, when discussing this destination for the best of Disney's worst, D'Amaro admitted the land "is not planned anytime soon" but is "always in the back of our minds:"

"This is not planned anytime soon. But it’s something we know [our fans] talk about, and it’s always in the back of our minds – an area overrun by villains.”

However, since D'Amaro's September 2022 statement, the Walt Disney Company has changed dramatically.

Evidence for Disney World's Villains Land

Not only did CEO Bob Iger suddenly return to the Walt Disney Company in late 2022, but since D'Amaro's announcement, plans to overhaul a corner of Disney's Animal Kingdom park now show elements of that "Beyond Big Thunder" proposal. 

Instead of the Magic Kingdom gaining Encanto's Casita, Imagineering has shown artwork and models for Casa Madrigal in Animal Kingdom's proposed "Tropical Americas" land, along with an Indiana Jones ride. 

Disney Animal Kingdom Encanto and Indiana Jones concept art

Also, while not confirmed, it's possible that Coco may have a presence in this Animal Kingdom land as well. 

But that's not to say Disney has abandoned its "Beyond Big Thunder Mountain" plans. 

In fact, during a recent media event, Walt Disney Imagineering confirmed permits would soon be filed to begin work on the site.

And, according to Walt Disney World site portfolio executive, Michael Hundgen, (shared via CNN) the new space is "probably the largest expansion ever at Magic Kingdom," comparing the expansion to the size of Hollywood Studios' 14-acre Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

With Encanto bound for Animal Kingdom, and potentially Coco as well, the only elements remaining from Disney's "Beyond Big Thunder" artwork is its villains land. 

It's also worth noting that at the 2023 opening for Magic Kingdom's TRON Lightcycle Run, Imagineer Chris Beatty told Entertainment Weekly, "We took note of how loud the applause was" for the proposed villains space at D23:

"[The villains concept] got pretty good applause. We took note of how loud the applause was when we announced that."

Finally, since that initial 2022 tease and Beatty's 2023 acknowledgment, Universal Orlando has unveiled Dark Universe, a whole land at 2025's Universal Epic Universe park dedicated to classic Universal monsters. 

In light of this news, it's tough to imagine that a Disney spin on this land and featuring its own brand monsters and malefactors hasn't crossed the minds and the desks of the Disney brass. 

What To Expect From a Magic Kingdom Villain Land

Back when Disney first reportedly considered a villain ride, rumors pointed towards a flume-style mountain attraction inspired by Fantasia's Bald Mountain and its Chernabog.

In addition to Chernabog himself, the attraction would've featured other Disney villains, and a plunge down the mountain would've been how guests escaped their grasp.

Disney also once considered a villain-themed funhouse coaster (shared via WDWNT) for Disney California Adventure's boardwalk area in the 2000s.

Whether this coaster or the '90s-era mountain flume ride has been recently revisited is unknown. 

However, at the 2022 D23, Disney did show concept art for a tentative Moana flume ride, suggesting Imagineering is still interested in this particular ride system. 

Disney concept art for Animal Kingdom

Overall, Disney's "Beyond Big Thunder" concept art did little to reveal Imagineering's current ideas as it largely consisted of a background of Impressionistic spires, craggy mountain tops, and what may be a portal-type entrance.

But it's a safe bet that Disney would include a blend of both classic and current Disney villains, such as Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent, Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog, The Little Mermaid's Ursula, and maybe Coco's Ernesto da la Cruz? 

Immersive dining and gift shops, themed after certain villains and their environments, is a given as well, and potentially more than one ride or attraction.

When Will Disney Announce Its Villains Land?

It's important to note that Disney hasn't officially announced anything beyond the fact that Magic Kingdom is expanding, and a villains land isn't this only rumor. 

According to Mickey Views, a version of Disney California Adventure's Radiator Springs Racers is reportedly in the work for "Beyond Big Thunder." 

Still, that doesn't mean the Magic Kingdom's 14-acre expansion will be solely dedicated to either Pixar's Cars or Disney's roster of rogues as this area can easily hold more than one themed space. 

Whether the idea D'Amaro claimed is "always in the back of our minds" is truly coming to the back of the Magic Kingdom is likely to be revealed at Disney's D23 event in August. 

In the meantime, the Magic Kingdom's historic expansion is worth paying attention to ahead of the Disney Parks D23 presentation. 

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- About The Author: Savannah Sanders
Savannah Sanders joined The Direct as a writer in 2020. In addition to writing for The Direct's Star Wars, Marvel, and DC teams, Savannah specializes in the relationship between Disney's blockbuster franchises and the Disney Parks.