The Possibility Of A Disneyland Chicago Resort

Disney theme parks are iconic destinations that attract millions of visitors each year. As one of the largest cities in the U.S., Chicago would seem like a prime location for a Disney resort. So could a Disneyland Chicago become a reality someday?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: While Disney has not formally announced plans to build a Disneyland resort in Chicago, the idea has been speculated about for years. Key factors like Chicago’s large population, tourism appeal, and transportation infrastructure make it a logical candidate for a future Disney park.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the feasibility, benefits, drawbacks, location possibilities, and more regarding a potential Disneyland in Chicago.

Background and Precedent

History of Disneyland Expansion into New Locations

Disneyland has a rich history of expanding its magical theme parks into new locations, capturing the hearts of millions of visitors worldwide. From its humble beginnings in Anaheim, California in 1955, Disneyland quickly became a global phenomenon, leading to the establishment of Disneyland Paris in 1992 and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005.

These expansions have allowed Disney to bring its iconic characters, immersive attractions, and unparalleled entertainment to different parts of the world, creating unforgettable experiences for people of all ages.

With the success of these international ventures, the possibility of a Disneyland Chicago Resort is an exciting prospect. The idea of having a Disney park in the vibrant city of Chicago opens up a world of possibilities for both Disney enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Market Size and Tourism Appeal of Chicago

Chicago, known as the “Windy City,” is one of the most populous cities in the United States and a major tourist destination. Its rich history, diverse culture, iconic architecture, and world-class museums make it an attractive location for a Disneyland Resort.

The city’s tourism industry is thriving, with millions of visitors flocking to Chicago each year to experience its vibrant arts scene, renowned food culture, and stunning lakefront. According to the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the city welcomed a record-breaking 57.6 million visitors in 2018 alone.

This impressive number highlights the potential market size and tourism appeal that Chicago offers.

A Disneyland Chicago Resort would not only enhance Chicago’s tourism industry but also provide a unique and magical experience for locals and visitors from around the world. Imagine strolling down Mickey Avenue, taking a ride on the iconic Space Mountain, or meeting your favorite Disney characters against the backdrop of Chicago’s stunning skyline.

While the possibility of a Disneyland Chicago Resort is still speculative, the combination of Disneyland’s successful history of expansion and Chicago’s market size and tourism appeal makes it an exciting prospect for Disney enthusiasts and tourists alike.

Benefits and Drawbacks of a Chicago Location


A Disneyland resort in Chicago would bring numerous benefits to the city and its residents. Firstly, it would attract millions of tourists from all over the world, boosting the local economy. Chicago already has a thriving tourism industry, and a Disneyland resort would further enhance its appeal as a top destination.

Additionally, the resort would create thousands of job opportunities, providing employment for local residents and boosting the overall employment rate in the city.

Furthermore, a Disneyland Chicago resort would serve as a major entertainment hub, offering a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. This would not only benefit tourists but also provide local families with a fun and exciting recreational option.

The resort could also act as a catalyst for further development in the surrounding areas, attracting other businesses, hotels, and restaurants.

Another advantage of a Chicago location is the city’s excellent transportation infrastructure. With two major airports and an extensive public transportation system, Chicago is easily accessible for both domestic and international visitors.

This would make it convenient for tourists to travel to and from the Disneyland resort, further boosting its popularity.

Drawbacks and Challenges

While a Disneyland resort in Chicago may seem like a dream come true, there are also some drawbacks and challenges to consider. One of the main concerns is the weather, as Chicago experiences harsh winters with heavy snowfall.

This could affect the attendance and operation of the resort during the colder months. However, with proper planning and infrastructure, this challenge could be overcome by providing indoor attractions and facilities.

Another challenge is the competition from other major tourist destinations in the United States. Chicago would need to compete with well-established theme park destinations such as Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida.

However, with its unique charm and vibrant city atmosphere, Chicago has the potential to carve out its own niche and attract visitors who are looking for a different experience.

Additionally, the cost of land acquisition and development could be a significant challenge. Chicago is known for its high real estate prices, and acquiring a suitable location for a Disneyland resort could be a costly endeavor.

However, the economic benefits and long-term impact on the city’s tourism industry could outweigh the initial investment.

Possible Chicago Locations

When it comes to the possibility of a Disneyland resort in Chicago, several potential locations have been considered. Let’s explore two main areas where the resort could potentially be situated: downtown Chicago and the city outskirts/suburbs.


Downtown Chicago is a bustling hub of activity, with its iconic skyline and vibrant atmosphere. The idea of having a Disneyland resort in such a prime location is undoubtedly exciting. Imagine walking down the Magnificent Mile, shopping at high-end stores, and then heading to Disneyland for a day of fun and entertainment.

The convenience and accessibility of downtown Chicago would make it a fantastic option for both locals and tourists alike.

However, one of the challenges of locating the resort downtown would be finding enough space to accommodate all the attractions, hotels, and other amenities. Land availability in downtown Chicago is limited, and building a large-scale resort may require significant modifications to the existing infrastructure.

Despite these challenges, the allure of having a Disneyland resort in the heart of the city is undeniable.

City Outskirts and Suburbs

Another possibility for a Disneyland resort in Chicago lies in the city outskirts and surrounding suburbs. These areas offer more space for development and can provide a more immersive and expansive experience for visitors.

Imagine a sprawling resort with vast green spaces, themed areas, and a multitude of attractions for all ages.

By choosing a location outside of downtown, the resort could potentially tap into a larger market, attracting families from the suburbs and neighboring states. The ease of access via highways and public transportation would make it convenient for visitors to reach the resort from various parts of the region.

Some potential sites for a Disneyland resort in the city outskirts and suburbs include areas like Rosemont, Schaumburg, or even further out in the suburban regions. These locations offer the advantage of ample space for development, while still being within proximity to the city.

Ultimately, the decision on the location of a Disneyland resort in Chicago will depend on various factors, including land availability, infrastructure requirements, and the overall vision for the resort.

Regardless of the chosen location, a Disneyland resort in Chicago would undoubtedly be a great addition to the city’s already vibrant entertainment scene.

Estimated Costs and Timeline

Construction Costs

Building a Disneyland resort is no small feat, and the cost is often a significant factor in determining whether a project like this is feasible. While there is no official figure for the estimated construction costs of a Disneyland Chicago resort, we can look at the expenses incurred in previous Disneyland projects for reference.

For example, the construction of Shanghai Disneyland in China cost around $5.5 billion. Similarly, the expansion of Disneyland Paris in 2014 had an estimated cost of $1.25 billion.

Considering the scale and ambition of a potential Disneyland Chicago resort, it’s reasonable to assume that the construction costs would be in the billions of dollars. The project would involve the creation of multiple theme parks, hotels, and various infrastructure developments.

Additionally, the cost of acquiring the necessary land, obtaining permits, and conducting environmental impact studies would also contribute to the overall expenses.

Timeline from Announcement to Opening

The timeline from the initial announcement of a Disneyland Chicago resort to its grand opening would depend on numerous factors. The process of planning, designing, and constructing a project of this magnitude typically takes several years.

Once the announcement is made, the first phase would involve conducting feasibility studies, market research, and negotiations with local authorities. This phase could take anywhere from a few months to a year.

Following that, the design and planning phase would begin, involving architects, engineers, and other specialists to develop the concept and layout of the resort. This phase could take another year or more.

After the design phase, construction would commence, which could take several years depending on the complexity of the project. The theme parks, hotels, and other attractions would need to be built, along with the necessary infrastructure to support them.

As for the timeline between the announcement and the opening, it’s difficult to provide an exact estimate, as it would depend on various factors such as the availability of funding, the speed of construction, and any potential delays.

However, it’s not uncommon for large-scale theme park projects to take around five to seven years from announcement to opening.

It’s important to note that these timelines and costs are speculative and based on previous Disneyland projects. The actual costs and timeline for a Disneyland Chicago resort would depend on a multitude of factors specific to that location.

Impact on Chicago Tourism and Economy

Projected Theme Park Attendance

The opening of a Disneyland resort in Chicago would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the city’s tourism industry. With its reputation as a leading tourist destination, Chicago already attracts millions of visitors each year.

However, the addition of a world-renowned theme park like Disneyland would bring in even more tourists from around the world.

Based on projections from similar theme parks, such as Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida, it is estimated that the attendance at a Disneyland Chicago resort would be in the millions annually.

This surge in visitors would result in a boost to the local economy, as tourists spend money on accommodations, dining, entertainment, and souvenirs.

Furthermore, the increase in tourism would create numerous job opportunities for Chicago residents. From hotel staff to tour guides, the demand for workers in the hospitality and tourism sectors would grow, providing a positive impact on the local economy and employment rate.

Spillover Impact on City’s Tourism Industry

The presence of a Disneyland resort would not only benefit the theme park itself but also have a spillover effect on the city’s overall tourism industry. With the increased foot traffic from Disneyland visitors, other local attractions, museums, restaurants, and shops would likely experience a significant increase in business.

For example, families visiting Disneyland may also be interested in exploring other iconic Chicago landmarks such as Millennium Park, Navy Pier, or the Art Institute of Chicago. This would lead to a boost in ticket sales and revenue for these attractions, contributing to the overall growth of the city’s tourism industry.

Additionally, the influx of tourists would generate a ripple effect throughout the local economy. Hotels and restaurants near the Disneyland resort would likely experience higher occupancy rates and increased customer traffic.

This would result in job creation and increased revenue for small businesses in the surrounding areas.


While Disney has not shared definitive plans for a theme park in Chicago, the city offers compelling advantages over other potential locations. Its large local population, strong tourism infrastructure, and transportation access could drive substantial theme park attendance.

If pursued, a Chicago Disney resort would be a multi-billion dollar investment expected to take over 5 years from announcement to opening. It would also provide a major ongoing boost to Chicago’s leisure tourism market and economy.

For these reasons, Chicago remains a logical frontrunner if Disney decides to expand its theme park empire beyond current locations in the coming years.

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