Disneyland Resort in Anaheim planning massive theme park expansion

Mar 26 2021, 1:41 pm

Major plans have been officially unveiled this week by the Walt Disney Corporation to significantly expand Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

The company is seeking permission from the City of Anaheim to allow for more flexible uses on the property it owns around the theme parks to allow for the major developments.

Disneyland Forward, the name of the project, would be a long-term redevelopment to the west and east of the existing footprint of the theme parks.

There would be a westward expansion of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure on the footprint of the vast surface parking lots and a portion of Downtown Disney. This expansion would grow the combined theme park footprint at the resort by roughly 25%.

Current condition:

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Aerial of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. (Google Maps)

Future condition:

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Site plan of the Disneyland Forward expansion at Anaheim. (Disney)

Disney did not provide in detail what the new attractions would be in the expansion, but it named a few themed lands and rides at its other properties around the world as examples and inspiration of what could be built in Anaheim.

This includes the new Frozen-themed land coming to Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Walt Disney Studios Park Paris, as well as Zootopia land being built at Shanghai Disneyland.

Toy Story Land is already found in Walt Disney Studios Park, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

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Conceptual artistic rendering of Disneyland Forward’s west expansion of Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure Park in Anaheim. (Disney)

The TRON Lightcycle Run roller coaster, currently found in Shanghai and being built at Magic Kingdom in Florida, is noted as an example, too. Other examples cite entail a gondola boat ride themed around Rapunzel and a boat ride following Peter Pan and his Lost Boys in Neverland.

To the east, a large surface parking lot is envisioned to become a retail, dining, and entertainment destination — oriented around a lake — similar to Disney Springs in Florida. This property was speculated to be the potential site for a third theme park for Disneyland Resort, but that is no longer the case.

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Conceptual artistic rendering of Disneyland Forward’s east site expansion with retail, dining, and entertainment. (Disney)

In order to make up for the lost vehicle parking supply, Disney plans to construct a new major parkade on the east side of the resort, including a pedestrian bridge with upgraded entrance accessibility for hotels and businesses in the area. There would also be investments to encourage greater use of public transit and ride-sharing for visitors and staff, known as “cast members.”

Disney is not acquiring any new land for this expansion proposal, nor is it seeking any public funding from Anaheim, which was the case for some of its previously unsuccessful proposals over the last few decades. It is anticipated it will take two years to conduct environmental reviews and engage in public consultation before the plan can reach city council for final approval.


Disney’s California Adventure Park. (Disney)

The expansion plans were announced after more than a full year of the closure of Disneyland Resort and Disney’s California Adventure due to COVID-19. Both theme parks and the surrounding hotels are currently scheduled to reopen on April 30, 2021, initially with a limited capacity and only to California residents.

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and other Disney parks elsewhere in the world have already reopened or saw temporary reopenings at some point over the past year. Major expansions are currently in the process of being built in Hong Kong, Epcot, Paris, DisneySea, and Shanghai.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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