Disneyland proposes plans for expansion

What will be the future of Disney ventures?
At Disneyland Paris, people walk near Disneyland Castle in the early hours of the morning.
At Disneyland Paris, people walk near Disneyland Castle in the early hours of the morning.
Bastien Nvs via Unsplash

LOS ALAMITOS, CA – Over the years, Disneyland has made a name for itself by being an amusement park that both kids and adults can enjoy. With its self-proclaimed title as the “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disney has been able to celebrate its success as the most visited theme park in the U.S.

Recently, Disneyland has confirmed plans for an expansion of the park, including the addition of new rides, attractions, restaurants, and hotel offerings. This plan, known as DisneylandForward, was announced in 2021 and will take place over the course of multiple years. According to media outlets like the L.A. Times, it will be unlike anything Disney has attempted since the completion of California Adventure and Disneyland Park in 2001. 

“Disney committed to $1.9 billion for entertainment-related amenities, but this number is estimated as of right now because nothing has been officially signed yet,” said Anaheim city spokesperson Erin Ryan. 

What is the goal of expanding?

Disneyland is already a well-established theme park, with millions of visitors per year, so why would Disney want to expand its park even more? An article for The Walt Disney Company explained that the main goal is to increase investment. The idea is that with this expansion, Disney will be able to double capital spending over the course of 10 years to approximately $60 million. 

We have an ambitious growth story that is supported by a proven track record and a bold vision for the future of our Parks business.”

— Josh D’Amaro, Disney Parks Experiences and Products Chairman

Disney is focusing on its fans, who have funded its business endeavors for decades, in order to further promote the success of their expansion plans. Disney believes that its fans will continue to develop their storytelling experiences, whether it relates to rides or cruise ships. With the expansion, Disney will be able to continue reimagining the stories it has created to appeal to more guests. 

“I think it’s definitely interesting. They have done some questionable things in the past, but generally I’m excited,” said Los Alamitos High School senior Jessica Kearns. 

Disney’s negotiated deal with the city of Anaheim

Before the last major expansion in 2001, Disney agreed to the 1993 Disneyland Resort Specific Plan with the city of Anaheim. This deal, according to the blog MickeyVisit, established specific zones on the Disneyland Resort property that spelled out what could be built where. Anaheim also had strict guidelines that restricted development size, height, and streetscape. 

The proposition announced a few years ago was specifically aimed at updating those permits to allow for the expansions of theme parks, hotels, shopping areas, and entertainment venues. This new deal, which is still being negotiated, is focusing on land use zoning changes with Anaheim that Disney is required to consider in order to make the changes it wants. 

“As part of the development agreement, [Disney] would purchase a small street in between the Disneyland parking structures. They would [also] pay $90 million for those street areas, and $40 million would be a hard cost,” Ryan said. “Disney would use [the street] for new transportation improvements, and this can be things like more bike lanes and updated roads.” 

The current deal with Anaheim is being reviewed by head researchers and managers, but Ryan explained that there are fundamental values to consider with this deal, as it heavily affects the citizens of Anaheim. What will be non-negotiable is the benefit that Anaheim will receive by agreeing to a hard cost with Disney. 

“Disney will likely give Anaheim $30 million to help them gain affordable housing in the city and an additional $8 million to improve parks across the city. [The city] wants to use this money towards playgrounds, basketball courts, pickleball courts, and more,” Ryan said. 

So, what will actually change?

Disney plans to establish a new parking structure on the east side of the Harbor Blvd. entrance to their theme parks, along with building new entertainment and shopping facilities on the current Toy Story Parking Lot. While it will likely become a shopping facility, plans also reveal it could potentially be used for a new theme park. Additionally, MickeyVisit explained that there are plans to expand Downtown Disney and Disney California Adventure.

Many tourist blogs such as the Undercover Tourist speculate that new rides could be centered around more recent Disney movies such as “Frozen,” “Tangled,” “Zootopia,” and “Toy Story,” but Disney has not confirmed any new rides besides “Tiana’s Bayou Adventure” coming summer of this year. 

The Haunted Mansion area expansion began last month, with no reopening date to be announced, and Disney has shared that it will have a brand new look. New additions will decorate the outdoor queue, and there will be a new retail shop near the exit. Disney has also announced that the construction will improve the accessibility of the area by including an elevator exit from the attraction. 

While there are plenty of speculations about what could happen in Disney’s ambitious future, it is easy to see that it is becoming a titan in the theme park industry. As of right now, it is hard to tell whether these changes will be good or bad. 

“I’m just a little nervous about their capitalist reputation. I think they originally wanted to take the rights to Harry Potter from Universal, and they definitely could become a monopoly in the future,” Kearns said.

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  • K

    Katie ArnoultMar 3, 2024 at 12:57 pm

    Whoo hoo!! Another best of SNO!! This article is amazing, Nandi! Such an interesting topic, with LOADS of great quotes and research!

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    Ella SuosMar 1, 2024 at 12:31 pm

    I LOVE your article, Nandi! The amount of work undoubtedly shows through your sophisticated writing!