Plans to Expand Disneyland in California Get Approval for Next Steps

Disney plans to invest $1.9 billion over the next ten years in its California parks, bringing the most significant changes in decades to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

The House of Mouse isn’t expanding the 490-acre footprint of its Disneyland campus in Anaheim. However, if the city approves its DisneylandForward plans, Disney will develop new attractions within park boundaries. Specifically, they’ll create new rides and entertainment options on space that’s now a sprawling 50-acre parking lot. Parking would move to a new multi-story structure.

Disneyland is already the world’s second-most visited amusement park, ranking just after Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, FL, in annual attendance. Disneyland has averaged about 18.1 million visitors a year over the past five years, excluding the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.

While its market-leading performance has been consistent, the global entertainment goliath envisions a new type of growth for Disneyland, one that’s already proving successful at its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Shanghai Disneyland has recreated the metropolis of Zootopia, “where anyone can be anything,” while Hong Kong Disneyland Resort welcomes visitors to Frozen’s Arendelle, the village that’s home to iconic characters Elsa and Anna.

These areas combine many facets of the amusement park experience that today’s parkgoers increasingly demand – developments that aren’t possible at Disneyland under its current approvals by the city of Anaheim. When the city approved plans for Disney Anaheim Resort in the 1990s, it restricted land uses by districts that spelled out where hotels, restaurants, rides, and attractions could be built.

Disney says the system has resulted in a successful park and city, but the time has come to loosen the restrictions.

“With updated approvals,” Disney says on its DisneylandForward site, “Disney California Adventure Park could be home to some of Disney’s most technologically advanced, immersive, and cutting-edge entertainment, taking cues from these exciting lands and attractions around the globe for inspiration.”

In its DisneylandForward promotional materials, Disney says today’s amusement park visitor wants a fully immersive experience based around a popular Disney story, confined to a themed park area.

With the new approvals, Disneyland could develop something similar to Disney Springs at Disney World, with restaurants, hotels, live music, shopping, ticketed shows, and theme park experiences.

According to ABC 7, the Anaheim City Plan Commission has approved the plans, which still must clear the City Council. To enable the expansion, Disney seeks to buy parts of three streets from the city for about $40 million.

Disney has yet to announce a timeline for the expansion but has said they envision it unfolding over the next few decades. As Walt Disney famously said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Author: Terry Jefferson


Terry Jefferson is a journalist with more than two decades of experience as a reporter and freelance writer. He was won several journalist awards over the years.

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