In some unexpected news, Disneyland Resort shared plans to expand their current entertainment offerings. Taking from existing property, mainly parking lots, that Disney already owns. The company is seeking more flexibility from the city of Anaheim. This would allow them to place entertainment, be it shopping, theme park expansion or hotels, into these parking lots. In this post, we’ll cover a few of the details offered up at the media briefing today as well as share our thoughts about what this could mean for the future of Disneyland Resort.
I should start by saying that the OC Register covered this story in-depth and after reading it through about five times, I’m not sure how much actual information is here. This felt like a good amount of posturing by Disney in hopes of working with the city of Anaheim. Here’s the bullet points of what was talked about.
- Disney wants more flexibility in how to use the land on the eastern and western edges of their property. Almost all of that land is currently taken up by Disney-owned parking lots.
- The agreement with Anaheim is more rigid than Disney would like because of the current district structure hence wanting more flexibility.
- The west side of property could lead to theme park expansion, taking the place of the Downtown Disney and Lilo & Stitch Parking Lots.
- The east side of the property would likely combine theme park experiences, hotels, shopping and dining. This would take over the Toy Story Lot.
- This project will be privately funded by Disney, refraining from using any public dollars.
- In hopes of expansion on current parking lots, Disney would look to build a new (and previously proposed) parking structure off of Harbor Blvd.
Just browsing the Disneyland Forward website shows that this is largely an appeal to Anaheim, not an announcement of what’s to come. Yes, these changes would lead to additions at Disneyland Resort but there are no announcements of what those additions are. Of course, that won’t stop us from doing some sleuthing but we’ll wait a few paragraphs before that.
Before the wild (perhaps irresponsible) guessing, let’s get into the big topic. Does this mean Disneyland Resort will be adding a third park? In short, no. There is simply not enough room in the parcels of land in these proposals to build another park. Maybe if they scrapped all of Downtown Disney and added that to the western land, they could do an entire park. That’s not feasible though.
Disneyland Resort will likely add a third park sometime in the next 50 years. It is becoming too much of a vacation destination not to. But before that happens, the resort will have to acquire more land because there simply isn’t enough right now. Any site telling you otherwise needs to take some time studying a map.
As I said, this announcement is more posturing towards Anaheim than anything else. For the last few years, the city and resort have butted heads on a few subjects including a parking structure and hotel. With the parks now closed for over a year, I think Disney is being opportunistic as the financial situation in the city has cratered. Even with some animosity between the city and resort, the two need each other and that has become even more apparent in the last year.
On that same note, it’s wonderful to see an immediate plan from Disneyland to expand on the tail end of this closure. We will see the long lasting effects of this pandemic for years to come but hopefully this is a show of strong economic footing from the company when it comes to theme park investment.
As for the what theme park expansions could come and the concept art, I don’t think looking too closely into things is the smartest idea. Both the website and concept art (west side expansion) above seem to point to the Fantasy Springs expansion that is currently being constructed at DisneySea. Not to sound like a broken record but I don’t even know if that space is big enough for that. The enormous budget that land has also points to this as more of a fantasy (pun intended?) than realistic. I don’t doubt that Disneyland Resort would love to add just about anything from DisneySea but I would keep expectations in tow for now. I am curious how, if this area is truly used for theme park expansion, they’ll connect it to existing parks.
The east side expansion concept art seems leveled back a little bit which makes sense considering the smaller footprint. Hopefully this will lead to an upgrade in Downtown Disney dining and a wider array of Disney-owned hotels.
All in all, this is great news for theme park fans! I would caution against jumping to conclusions about this meaning a third park is coming or massive upgrades are coming to the existing parks. Assuming this plan is approved, it is certainly good news for the ever growing Disneyland Resort. The momentum from their announced opening on April 30th only grows with this news!
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