Yesterday marked the opening of Disneyland’s latest expansion, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. By all accounts the opening went smoothly and the land is beautiful, despite opening with only one of the two attractions running (Rise of the Resistance, the land’s other attraction, will open later this year). We’ll eventually have our own review of the land but today we’re going to take a look into what could come next for Disneyland.
The Southern California resort has unfortunate spacial constraints. There are very few expansion pads, especially compared to other Disney Parks around the world. Disneyland has always made very good use of space, fitting an extraordinary amount of attractions into a fairly small footprint. While the resort has certainly grown in size and popularity over the years, the places where they could feasibly expand have slowly been used up. Having said that, Disneyland has already announced and started work on several projects.
One project that has already started and will be completed in phases is Marvel Land in California Adventure. Tower of Terror was remade into Mission: BREAKOUT! two years ago, signifying a change in the area. Since then, A Bug’s Land has closed to make room for more Marvel attractions. The land will open in phases, starting with a Spider-Man ride in the next year.
While not exactly an expansion, Marvel Land will offer a few new attractions to help spread out the crowds that will visit Disneyland post Galaxy’s Edge. This land will also be enticing to guests as it can’t be repeated in Disney World due to a strange quirk in Disney’s contract with Universal. Eventually, I expect the Marvel Land to be completed with a state-of-the-art E-ticket attraction. That’s a few years down the road but will be a nice counter-balance to the excellent Disneyland attraction roster.
Moving a little further down the road, Disneyland has announced that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be coming to ToonTown in 2022. The attraction will first open in Disney World’s Hollywood Studios early next year but then will be replicated in Disneyland. This will bolster the park’s weakest land, adding what I hope to be an one of the best dark ride attractions in the world. Disneyland finally getting an attraction that features Mickey Mouse is also a no-brainer.
After those two projects is where things become blurry. Because of the 12-acres that Galaxy’s Edge took up, there is very little room to work with in Disneyland in order to expand. At this point, it seems like replacing something will be the way to go if there are big plans down the road. When it comes to areas that could be replaced, two come to mind immediately – Fantasyland Theatre and Autopia.
Starting with the former, Fantasyland Theatre resides across the walkway from it’s a small world. The amphitheater is near the entrance to ToonTown and takes up a fairly large footprint with a little bit of room to work with behind and below the theater, as well. We enjoy Mickey and the Magical Map, which is currently shown in the Fantasyland Theatre, but it’s prime for a replacement.
Taking that a step further, the theater could be demolished and make way for a Fantasyland expansion. While there’s not a ton of space, the area could possibly house a mini land or a marquee attraction. For a while, there were rumors of a Frozen expansion coming to Disneyland but that has been quiet for a while. Something along those lines makes sense, especially considering Galaxy’s Edge catered to the older crowd with two attractions that have height limits.
Moving to Autopia, it’s striking to see how much room this attraction takes up. Many parks have moved away from the submarines and I could understand Disneyland doing the same thing, although I wouldn’t be in favor of it. Instead simply replacing Autopia would give Disneyland room to expand Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.
Magic Kingdom in Disney World will soon be adding a Tron bike coaster. While they didn’t have to take out Tomorrowland Speedway for that move, thanks to having more space to work with, I could see that making it’s way to the west coast, as well. Along with that, the Fantasyland area that would be freed up with the removal of Autopia would be substantial and could lead to an expansion similar to what Tokyo Disneyland is receiving right now (Beauty and the Beast attraction, along with two other minor attractions).
Conceivably, those are the two areas that Disneyland would be looking at if they wanted to expand further. Of course, there’s always the chance that they could replace a different attraction than the two I highlighted. Generally, I hope they don’t go that way.
Over in California Adventure, there is slightly more room to work with and areas that could be replaced. Hollywood Land is a mishmash of theming that doesn’t really work at this point that will only get worse with Marvel Land sitting right next to it. With a new land that will continue to grow overtime, I don’t expect to see California Adventure trying to expand in a major way outside of that in the next few years.
Along with the limited expansion that these two parks could afford, there’s been talk over the last decade of a third park at Disneyland Resort. Frankly, the rumor mill on this is kind of dead and it just doesn’t seem logical at this point. If there was a time to accomplish this it would have been to house a Star Wars and Marvel charged theme park. Instead those two gigantic IP’s were put into the existing parks. On top of that, I have no idea where a new park would go at Disneyland Resort. It most assuredly wouldn’t have the convenience that DCA and Disneyland have, being just a few steps away from each other. Disneyland has become more of a global destination in recent years rather than just a locals or west coast park. For that reason, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see a third park built in my lifetime. But for the foreseeable future, I think Disneyland Resort will be a two park destination.
The future at Disneyland is bright and the projects don’t seem like they’ll be slowing down even with Galaxy’s Edge completed. Disney is investing in their theme parks at a rate we haven’t seen in (at least) twenty years. When more projects are announced I’ll be curious where they will go and what they will be, although it seems like they’ll be attached to a current IP as that’s the company’s trend. Galaxy’s Edge is open and it’s already time to look ahead!
What do you think could be next in line for Disneyland? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our social media accounts. You can find all of those on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Rumors and Commentary