LCMAP Change Stories: It's a Sprawl World After All

Science Center Objects

The man-made Florida playland of Walt Disney World has grown outward on all sides since the amusement park’s construction commenced in the 1960s. Much of that growth has overtaken the wetlands, tree cover and grassland/shrublands near Orlando.

LCMAP land cover animation of Disney World resort area

This animation shows the Disney World area’s consistently-expanding footprint of amusement parks, resorts and associated infrastructure through the lens of the USGS Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP) Primary Land Cover product.

The red areas represent developed land. Lighter blues are wetlands, while darker blues are open water. Additions such as Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach Water Park, All Star Resorts and Animal Kingdom spring up over the course of 32 years, often replacing crop and grassland and butting up against or eating into wetlands.

The expansion in developed land cover is noteworthy, but the Disney presence is also tied to a wetlands preservation project further south of Orlando. The Disney Wilderness Preserve opened in the early 1990s on a former cattle ranch slated for development. The 8,500-acre area was purchased by the Walt Disney Company and transferred to the Nature Conservancy in part to mitigate the future impact of Disney World’s continued development. Another 3,000 acres were added to the preserve in 1995.

The animation below shows development building up around the preserve. Watch the influx of red development, particularly in the northwest quadrant of the animation. The preserve is located largely in the southeast quadrant.

LCMAP land cover animation of the Disney Wilderness Preserve