There's something interesting happening in North Texas, and Walt Disney (DIS -0.07%) is probably paying attention. Legoland parent Merlin Entertainments announced this week that it will open a Peppa Pig theme park in North Richland Hills next year. Based on the popular British TV show for preschoolers, the small attraction will offer a few kid-friendly rides, shows, and interactive features. 

Less than 40 miles away in Frisco, Comcast's Universal Studios is building out a petite park that will also cater to younger audiences. Comcast didn't provide an opening date or attraction details, but the concept art suggests that there will be areas devoted to some of the more popular franchises out of Comcast's DreamWorks and Illumination animation studios. 

Will Disney mess with Texas, or will it stay out of this new arms race for pint-sized gated attractions? It won't be an easy decision for the media giant.

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There are plenty of good reasons for Disney to resist the temptation to follow its fellow theme park operators in developing smaller regional attractions. It hasn't fared well in the past. It pulled the plug on DisneyQuest -- its next-gen multilevel arcade gaming concept -- before the third location opened to the public. Club Disney opened in 1997 as a regional children's play center concept. All five locations would be shuttered two years later. Even its Disney Store retail empire, which peaked at 800 locations around the turn of the century, crumbled.

Disney also has other priorities to nail down. Bob Iger has just 20 months left on his two-year CEO deal, and he has a long checklist to tackle. His top priority is making sure that Disney+ turns profitable by fiscal 2024. He also needs to get the iconic animation studio back on track after a string of box-office flops, make its theme parks a win-win situation for its enthusiasts as well as its shareholders, and decide whether or not to unload Hulu or possibly even ESPN.

It might also need to keep its imagineers -- the creative team behind the experiences at its world-leading theme parks -- close. Disney will need new rides and attractions to keep guests coming after it finishes the second of its round-number celebrations next year. A year later, Comcast is coming for Disney World's dominance in Central Florida with the arrival of Epic Universe.

Mad Hatter, Rabbit, and Alice in Wonderland in front of the spinning teacups ride at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

Image source: Disney.

There are also good reasons for Disney to take a chance. Just as Comcast's Universal Studios is playing to strengths by opening a year-round haunted house attraction in Las Vegas, Disney has some of the best intellectual property in the world. It can open Star Wars or Pixar parks in the right markets. As long as it stays west of the Mississippi it can unload its Marvel catalog with a dedicated destination. 

There's always the chance that Disney falters again, souring the return of Iger's return as CEO. However, there's also the risk that Comcast or Merlin Entertainments succeeds, and Disney will be playing from behind in a game that it can't afford to lose if it wants to remain the top Pluto of travel and tourism stocks