Did a recent statement made by Disney CEO Bob Iger hint at a massive Disney Park expansion in the near future, on par with the existing Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, but the end of DisneylandForward?
With the success of new additions to Walt Disney World, such as Magic Kingdom’s TRON Lightcycle / Run, Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the highly anticipated World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland, the next big question on Disney fans minds is: “Will Disneyland get that?” While the original Disneyland Park remains a classic, and Disney California Adventure offers one-of-a-kind experiences, such as Avengers Campus, in its own right, many Guests prefer Walt Disney World when choosing a vacation destination.
Simply based on the property’s size alone, Guests see it as a stronger investment compared to the Disneyland Resort for longer stays, assuming perhaps that with more square footage and two additional gates come more opportunities for entertainment. As a result, Disney Parks has looked into expanding the Disneyland Resort, looking for more space to both dream up new content and clone existing successes for a West Coast market in the US.
Indeed, the Southern California theme park’s smaller stature results in unique limitations, particularly when in comes to new construction, due to both limited additional space and restrictions from the City of Anaheim which regulate which types of expansion Disney could undertake in a specific area of its property. In fact, Disney proposed the DisneylandForward project a few years ago, looking to renegotiate previous approvals from decades past which segregate land based on function (Retail, Theme Park, or Hotel) to allow for new interdisciplinary experiences, or even a third gate, within existing space owned by the corporation.
Announced at the D23 Expo, the lobbying would end the separation of district zones for the Walt Disney Company, even expanding its Park sphere into the current Downtown Disney District. Moreover, Walt Disney Imagineering previously discussed building an immersive Resort Hotel, while Disneyland President Ken Potrock mentioned an all-new theme park following a united storyline, similar to Fantasy Springs, Zootopia, or Pandora’s Avatar experience.
Additionally, Disney Parks Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro said in an interview that he remains “very excited about the prospects of what DisneylandForward can mean for the Disneyland Resort – more opportunities to tell more amazing stories, etc.” through immersive retail and dining. However, Anaheim has yet to greenlight the “multiyear public planning effort,” leaving Disney Parks & Resorts to battle “inflexible” district/zoning procedures.
But, has Disney moved past the need for renegotiation? For instance, Iger himself seemed to hint at future expansion of the Disney brand… But did not mention DisneylandForward or Anaheim by name while at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. As reported by CinemaBlend, Iger stated:
Certainly in Florida, we have a lot of property. We have a lot of opportunity outside the United States. We actually have more opportunity in California than people are aware.
While D’Amaro noted DisneylandForward hasn’t progressed, the Palm Springs-based Cotino community, part of the larger Storyliving by Disney endeavor alludes to future potential outside of the Anaheim Resort for the themed entertainment company in such a large state.