The plan for the expansion is called DisneylandForward and includes some long-term plans for theme park, retail, and parking expansion to Disneyland Resort.
So, What’s Going On?
The DisneylandForward website describes “DisneylandForward” as “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.” What does that mean?
Well, in the past, the City of Anaheim approved plans to “guide the growth” of Disneyland Resort and other businesses in that area. The plan created districts or zones that specify what types of developments can be built in each zone.
Now, Disneyland is saying that its plans for future attractions and experiences may be limited by these old plans. Basically, DisneylandForward is Disney’s push to work with the City to update the existing plans to give Disney much more flexibility for future expansion and construction plans.
Disney’s proposed plans don’t involve the company getting any additional square footage or physical land beyond what is approved and allowed right now. It’s really just a focus on getting more flexibility in zoning and districting so they can make some of the changes they want to.
Right now, Disneyland hasn’t announced anything official that will be part of the proposed expansions, BUT they have released some concept art of what could be.
The concept art shows several parking lots being replaced with new themed experiences, with areas outlined for potential new parking areas where backstage areas currently exist. This could allow for the current parking spaces to be used for theme park, retail, and hotel expansion.
Disney also released a map that shows the proposed expansion of Disneyland Park into an existing parking area, a small expansion of Downtown Disney into an existing parking area, and an expansion of Disney California Adventure into an existing parking area.
It also shows a completely new retail and hotel area with a theme park experience in a current parking area.
So, yeah, that seems REALLY impressive! But, there are a few things you should know before you get TOO excited.
It All Depends on the City Of Anaheim
First and foremost, Disney has to get the appropriate approvals from the City of Anaheim to make some of these plans a reality. Right now, Disney is limited as to what it can do with those specific parts of its property due to those district and zoning restrictions that have been in place for a number of years.
DisneylandForward was created as a planning process that will have Disney working closely with the city of Anaheim to see what can be changed and to possibly get more flexibility for its future plans.
However, the City of Anaheim will have the last word on if Disney can move forward with these plans.
A spokesperson for Anaheim has noted that the city is receptive, at least at this point, to updating the zoning around Disneyland and some surrounding areas, so perhaps Disney will get some or all of what they’re hoping for.
But, as of yet, the city of Anaheim has not made the necessary approvals that will allow Disneyland to expand in the way it wants to.
It’s JUST a Plan Right Now
The important thing to remember is that DisneylandForward is literally JUST a plan — no actual construction has been confirmed for the Disneyland expansion and nothing “official” has been announced.
Their own website notes that the concept art is for illustrative purposes, and they identify one of their maps as just a “possibilities” map. Disney showed a number of potential projects and things related to that concept art during their DisneylandForward media briefing.
But, a Disney executive specifically noted that the projects presented were not an official announcement of projects to come, but instead “should give you a flavor of the types of industry-defining integrated experiences and story-rich lands that we want to bring to Anaheim.”
The DisneylandForward website notes that with more flexibility to build as they’d like to at the Disneyland Resort, then the parks there at Disneyland Resort could become home to immersive, cutting-edge entertainment, that takes cues from or is inspired by some of the lands and rides they’re building around the world.
Basically, we’ve got the concept art, we’ve got the possibilities map, we’ve got the website and its references to other rides and lands — but nothing official has been set for Disneyland’s expansion just yet. So, you might not want to go betting ALL of your money that a Zootopia land will be coming to Disneyland just yet.
Also, let’s not forget that Disney spends YEARS developing plans for the future of its theme parks. So, it’s important to remember that when something is in the planning phase, it can change into something else or even get scrapped entirely. There’s still a lot here that’s up in the air.
Something This Big Will Take YEARS
Step one of this overall plan is basically for the City of Anaheim and Disneyland to work together on the zoning and district issues so that Disney can (ideally) get more flexibility for future expansion and building.
Getting everything sorted will be a “multiyear” process according to Disney’s own words.
Let’s say the City of Anaheim does give Disney the green light and they are able to have MUCH more flexibility for future expansion and construction plans. Then, they might be able to move from the approval stage to more of the detailed planning stage, deciding exactly what will be going where (assuming that hasn’t already been finalized by then). From there, they’d move onto the construction phase.
All of this — the approval, the planning, and the construction — for plans THIS big will likely take a LOT of time to put into place and get finalized.
Also, it seems that Disneyland will have to figure out the parking situation BEFORE it starts building anything in existing parking areas.
While we can’t say anything with certainty as we don’t know what Disney’s plans will ultimately involve, Disney would likely need to address parking and potentially complete a new parking structure or something of the sort before they move on to demolishing existing parking spaces to convert them into more theme park attractions, hotels, and shops.
There will be a lot of moving parts to these expansion plans, and Disney will have to be very careful in how it handles construction at the parks. Disneyland doesn’t have the kind of space that Disney World has, so closing things down for construction could have a huge impact on guests.
With all that being said, though, we don’t blame you for getting excited about the plans Disney has to potentially expand Disneyland Resort in new and unique ways in the future (we’re excited too!!). But, you shouldn’t expect to see any changes immediately, you should remember that nothing has really officially been announced as these are just proposals, and you should keep in mind there are a LOT of things that are subject to change in the future. Honestly, the entire thing could still be scrapped. It will really just depend on all the moving parts.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on DisneylandForward and make sure you have all the latest details!
What do you think about the possible Disneyland expansion? Let us know in the comments!