The Disneyland Resort in Anaheim California has been closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month we were unsure when the resort would be able to reopen, now we are talking about a massive expansion for the resort in the coming years.
For Disneyland fans the last month has felt more like Mr Toad’s Wild Ride than a smooth trip around the monorail.
For the record, the park will begin its phased reopening on April 30th, regarding the expansion, details for that are sparse but, from what we’ve been told, it appears they are grand in scope and scale.
Earlier today Disney revealed long term plans to expand the theme park, retail, and hotel operations within the resort’s footprint. They made clear that their plans do not include acquiring any neighboring land, they are simply seeking changes to previously approved plans from the late 1990s with the city of Anaheim.
The changes would allow Disney to expand within their own footprint and mix theme park, dining, retail, entertainment, and hotel operations into a more integrated experience rather than individual elements. Suggesting that the current permits require Disney to have each show element separate and distinct.
Disney argues that over the two decades since these restrictions were agreed to, theme parks and live entertainment have changed so much that guests desire these fully immersive experiences over distinct and separate elements.
The concept art that Disney provided was not meant to represent any specific projects that they have planned, rather, it is intended to give a general feeling for what Disney is planning.
The proposed expansion would take place on the west side of the Disneyland Resort, essentially where the Downtown Disney district sits right now, including the area around the Disneyland Hotel and the land to the north and south of the hotel.
The planning for an expansion has been in the works for years, if not decades, but the timing of this public announcement is no coincidence. Like many cities, the pandemic has destroyed much of Anaheim’s economy and Disney knows local leaders and community members would be more open to a large scale project like this, which has huge long-term economic boosting potential, than they would in normal times.
Consider today’s announcement the kickoff to a large public campaign to persuade local leaders to approve this expansion. The history between Disney and the city of Anaheim is long and sordid, and while the economically depressed city may be an easier adversary for Disney in the short term, expect this to be a very public battle.
We will be watching all of the twists and turns with this huge new project here on The DisInsider and on The Disney Beat podcast, as well as Walt’s Apartment and Extra Magic Hour, all available on Apple podcasts and Spotify.