ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney Co. plans to open a fourth theme park in Orlando, Fla., as early as 1997, mixing wild animals with nature walks and elaborate thrill rides, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.
The newspaper, citing a confidential Disney marketing video, said the 500-acre animal park will have a strong conservation theme. It will compete with other animal-themed parks and rides in central Florida, including Tampa's Busch Gardens and Universal Studios' planned "Jurassic Park" attraction in Orlando.
Disney executives in Burbank declined to confirm the report on Sunday.
"We haven't announced anything yet," said Tom Deegan, a Disney spokesman. "Until we announce it, we look upon it as speculation." But he said Disney has considered adding a fourth park in Orlando since 1990.
Disney sources said the park's design is constantly being revised.
Disney already has three theme parks in its complex near Orlando: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center and the Disney-MGM Studios.
Like the Magic Kingdom, the newest park will be divided into several lands with a central hub, according to the video, which has been shown in a marketing study.
A giant Tree of Life, the park's icon, rises in the midst of the setting, in the style of the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The lands may include a Beastly Kingdom, which features imaginary animals from storybooks and fairy tales; Dinoland, Disney's answer to "Jurassic Park," which invites guests on an archeological dig; Africa, where guests can see wild animals and witness the capture of poachers, and Asia, which features rides through simulated rain forests.