Big Announcement! DisneylandForward–A Massive Resort & Parks Expansion

Big Announcement! DisneylandForward–A Massive Resort & Parks Expansion

Wow! If I hadn’t noticed an hour prior that April Fool’s day was a week away, I would have thought I was in some sort of prank. But despite a major pandemic, and the fact that the Disneyland Resort has not been open for over a year, Disney officials made a major announcement that could rock the entire Disneyland resort, taking it to another entirely new level. This includes massive expansions in terms of lands, rides and attractions to Disneyland and Disney California in spaces that extend away from Disneyland. It also includes a complete resort, shopping and dining experience occupying what was the Toy Story parking lots south of the parks. This plus a new parking lot. This post and podcast brings you an in-depth look at what is being considered, and what may not be so obvious. But make no mistake. This expansion may be almost as massive as the 2001 addition of Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney and Disney’s Grand California.

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Map by Disney.

New Lands for Disneyland & Disney California Adventure

So is this park enlargement or a new park? Images show a park enlargement plan. The L.A. Times stated: “Disney officials emphasized that they have no plans to ask for any public funding to support the project and do not envision adding a third theme park to the resort.” That said, there is nothing on their website that states that, and all indications show that they want to keep their options open. What they have said specifically about adding a new theme park is:

We are not announcing any future projects at this time. Currently, we are focused on meeting with the community to explain DisneylandForward and working with the City of Anaheim to review and ultimately approve the project. These updated approvals are necessary as they will allow us to explore new integrated and immersive experiences that could include adding new theme park attractions without having to remove and replace treasured rides and attractions.

While whatever is here may be revised time and time again before it becomes reality, there are many considerations worthy of attention that we can glean from this announcement. Let’s look at this more in depth:

  • As shown, new lands would be added to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure that are way beyond the berm.
  • There would be walkways over Disneyland Drive.
  • Disneyland’s walkway would likely occur around the Frontierland Train Station and consume what has been Downtown Disney parking
  • Disney California Adventure’s walkway would extend from the end of IncrediCoaster, and then space around Paradise Pier Hotel and leading up to the Disneyland Hotel
  • More space would be dedicated to new lands and additions for Disney California Adventure.
  • There are enough new park additions that would nearly constitute a new park in and of itself. But Disney has stated they are not building a third gate.
  • An additional new promenade would be located in the area around the Disneyland monorail station and would occupy the former space of AMC movie theater, ESPN, and Rainforest Cafe. This would make Downtown Disney smaller in size.
  • New entrance gates to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure would occupy the North and South sides of the Promenade.
  • Plans for the new DVC addition to the Disneyland Hotel appear to still be intact.
  • Disney has referenced major additions coming to other parks globally as potential attractions and lands that would come to both of these parks. This includes:
    • Toy Story Land like in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
    • Tron attraction like in Shanghai Disneyland and Magic Kingdom
    • Zootopia like in Shanghai Disneyland
    • Tokyo DisneySea Fantasy Springs addition Tangled, Peter Pan and Frozen
  • On the map there are considerable rides and attractions mapped out. Toy Story Land appears to be placed on the Disneyland side, while the Fantasy Springs additions seem more headed toward Disney California Adventure.
  • There are already discrepancies already between the outlined map and the rendering.
  • There is an extensive use of mountain and rock work to immerse guests into the park and not see Paradise Pier, Disneyland Hotel or the nearby parking structures
  • There is a mountain structure with a coaster-like path extending in and out. Yet no Tron-like coaster appears on the map
  • No discussion is given here to areas needing significant help like Tomorrowland or Hollywoodland Backlot.

Other Massive Additions

Shadowed in all of the above announcements is a major resort, shopping, dining, entertainment district that is not to be discounted. This will occupy what has been the Toy Story parking area between Katella and Harbor Boulevard. It will also require that an additional parking structure be put in place in another area North of here an East of Disneyland. Here are some interesting insights:

  • The property sits nearly adjacent to the Anaheim Convention center. This means that many people attending conferences and staying in major hotels like Marriott, Sheraton, and Hilton would benefit from this fairly adjacent space.
  • Not mentioned or shown is the need for an overpass or a way for guests to move between this space and the convention center.
  • Also adjacent to this space on the North is the Anaheim GardenWalk. But there is not effort here to combine or merge these spaces.
  • The facility is half resort, half entertainment district.
  • The resort will probably and ideally offer C-Suite style accommodations for those attending conferences.
  • You could probably offer DVC options in the resort space that is separated from the larger hotel space.
  • Smaller “bungalow” structures also suggest DVC style accommodations similar to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Disney’s Polynesian Resort.
  • They compare the entertainment district specifically to Disney Springs, even showcasing Jock Lindsay’s Hangar.
  • There are two parking structures for this plan, one for guests visiting the shopping dining experience, plus Cast Member parking. Another would be dedicated to resort guests.
  • One space on the map is pink rather than purple. Could this be a ticketed type entertainment location?
  • As a replacement to Toy Story Parking for the parks, a parking structure is needed to make this happen, which would be located on the East side of Disneyland.
  • To make the parking lot structure work, Disney needs to “include a pedestrian bridge with upgraded entrance accessibility for hotels and businesses located along Harbor Boulevard. This has been very controversial for businesses along Harbor.


  • What Disney primarily wants is flexibility in zoning laws. Additionally Disney will probably want transportation and pedestrian support/improvements.
  • How will future acquisitions be factored in?
  • Disneyland has emphasized and re-emphasized that it wants no public funding involved.
  • Disneyland has an unfortunate experience with doing a switch and bait. This probably won’t happen, but what you see is not the final by any means.
  • We have no hint here of a competitive bid with another SoCal location, but that also has happened before.
  • Still, the Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu has been briefed on the plan, according to a city spokesman, who said the mayor is supportive of Disney’s efforts and looks forward to seeing the detailed project make its way through the city’s approval process.
  • A big message in all of this is that Disney is emphasizing that it is a good neighbor.
  • No cost estimates were given, but my belief is that it would come to around 3-5 billion, based on what they ended up doing.
  • Meanwhile, The Disneyland Resort is still working to open on April 30th.

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