Disneyland’s theme parks have been closed for over a year (except for some limited access through A Touch of Disney and the prior reopening of Buena Vista Street). But, Disneyland is already looking WELL into the future.
Disneyland has now actually shared a look at their long-term plans for a theme park, retail, and parking expansion. YES. You read that right. Buckle up — we’re unpacking what we know right here!
According to the Orange County Register (OCR), “Disneyland has unveiled long-term plans for theme park, retail and parking expansion.” Disneyland is now reportedly preparing to work with the city of Anaheim to reimagine what Disneyland Resort will look like over the next few decades.
According to the DisnelandForward website, “DisneylandForward is a multiyear public planning effort with the City of Anaheim to update existing development approvals that will allow Disney to meaningfully invest in Anaheim for years to come and meet the future demands in entertainment.”
As part of these plans, Disney will actually be asking the city for more flexibility when it comes to some older plans that were approved in the 1990s. That flexibility would then allow them to add a “mix of theme park, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment on the eastern and western edges of the Disneyland resort.”
The current “DisneylandForward conceptual development plan stays within Disney’s existing 500-acre property in Anaheim with no physical expansion or additional acreage.” According to the Orange County Register, Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster has explained that under those older city plans approved in the 1990s, you might have an area designated as “hotel” while another is designated as “entertainment.” Lyster explained that Disney is now looking for “mixed-use” flexibility so you could have hotel AND entertainment on the same parcel.
As one Disney official put it, “We’re not changing the size of the toast, we’re just spreading the peanut butter around.” So, the plan is more focused on obtaining flexibility and rezoning areas to allow for certain expansions within the physical space they have.
A Disneyland representative has indicated that the DisneylandForward plan includes “what could be possible” for the future of Disneyland Resort if they are able to get more flexibility and approvals from the city.
What’s included in these potential plans for the future? Well, the westside expansion “envisions a theme park on the Downtown Disney and Lilo and Stitch parking lots woven amid the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.” But, it seems Disney officials have described this west-side site as more of an expansion than a third park.
The concept art shared seems to show a mountain in one section surrounded by water and various buildings. A mountain ridge then appears to separate the theme park from neighborhoods that are nearby.
The OCR notes that “The west-side site links up with Downtown Disney near the unused AMC Theater and ESPN Zone.” There’s also much more that appears in the concept art.
A Disney executive has noted that “guests need and want more...In order to give guests what they want, we need more flexibility here in Anaheim.”
According to the Disneyland portfolio executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, Jeanette Lomboy, Disney is not announcing anything specific today as part of DisneylandForward. Instead, Lomboy noted, that the projects they showed in their media briefing today, which included the Tangled and Peter Pan areas coming to Tokyo DisneySea in Japan and more, “should give you a flavor of the types of industry-defining integrated experiences and story-rich lands that we want to bring to Anaheim.”
As the OCR notes, Disney’s plans for future expansion will need to be signed off by Anaheim city leaders. There will be a back-and-forth planning process about these efforts that is expected to last 2 years before any decisions are finalized.
A spokesman for Anaheim noted that the city is receptive at this point to updating the zoning around Disneyland and some surrounding areas.
We’re continuing to look for more news on this project and will update this page and share more info as we learn more.
What do you think about this expansion news? Tell us in the comments!