Disneyland makes more strategic land purchases


Just a few months ago Disneyland bought the Carousel Inn hotel (in green). It’s rare that a Harbor Blvd hotel comes up for purchase and good news that Disneyland was willing to make the purchase. Word was that Disneyland was looking to make more purchases in the area and now they have.

According to the OC Register, two adjacent properties along Manchester Ave were just purchased by Disneyland for $48 million (#1 in fuchsia). According to the story, Disneyland plans to use them for office and warehouse support. This could be evidence that the new attractions Disneyland plans to add to the park will involve removal of the at least some of the backstage buildings.

Looking at the area in gold (#2), that is slated to become a parking garage. If you put all three areas together, it would seem obvious to connect areas 1 and 2 to Disneyland via the space currently occupied by the Carousel Inn. Let’s put a pin in this idea for down below.

There is speculation about how much of backstage will be given over to the Star Wars expansion that’s all but officially announced for the park (hello, D23 Expo). Disneyland told the city of Anaheim that it was ready to spend $1 Billion on adding attractions and that second garage we mentioned above. Star Wars and Marvel is rumored to be the bulk of that billion.

Disneyland has reportedly already been working backstage to ready the area that is now the Circle D Ranch, and a few nearby areas that have long been a part of the park potentially converting everything from Big Thunder Ranch back to Disneyland Drive into Star Wars.

In this scenario Marvel would move into the former Innoventions Space and with a new attraction in the Autopia area. What that means for the submarines, I don’t want to speculate.

Who am I kidding, speculation is all the fun. Let’s look at a map of the larger area surrounding Disneyland Resort.


I’m going to armchair Imagineer a bit here. There are a lot of things Disneyland can do if they add a new garage or two (you can take that pin out now). There is the Lion King parking lot behind Paradise Pier Hotel (area C in red). That hotel and the parking lot is ripe for a makeover. Perhaps that long rumored indoor/outdoor (think sliding roof) water park/resort combo. In theory, Disneyland Drive could be reconfigured (in a tunnel) to allow this space to become part of Disney California Adventure too. Only the current location of Paradise Pier hotel has been preventing that. A strategic demolition might be in its future.

Other than a few holdouts the remote parking lots (area A – blue) south of Katella and East of Harbor Blvd, could potentially be converted into a third gate. Anaheim could use eminent domain (or other means of persuasion) to get those properties if they really wanted, as tourism is a primary business for the region. The area is a bit smaller than DCA, but with some crafty vertical construction that wouldn’t be a problem.

What would they put in this third gate? They could give Star Wars the stand-alone theme park it deserves. They could build on the success of Pixar. They could celebrate the power of Super Heroes. There are some infrastructure problems with this scenario (where would the guests park for one), so I don’t think it’s likely.

There is property near the Anaheim Angels stadium that the city could trade Disneyland for. It’s just on the other side of the I4, so not too far away. Plus it’s very near the station for high speed rail that will eventually connect Northern California with Anaheim. Anaheim could use the current parking lots as a much needed expansion for it’s Convention Center. They need to double the square footage if they want to continue to compete with Las Vegas and Orlando for big shows.

This is the scenario I would be pushing for if I were negotiating between Disneyland and the city of Anaheim. Do you think Disneyland could support a third theme park? or would a water park be enough for most guests to add an extra day to their vacation?

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19 thoughts on “Disneyland makes more strategic land purchases

  1. jim

    Great story and thoughts! Even though we don’t know what Disney is going to do, i love to speculate about what could happen! Very fun!

  2. Sam Gennawey

    Fun article. One clarification. Anaheim cannot use eminent domain for a Disney project. That would be violating California law. When the redevelopment agency was liquidated a few years ago, a number of properties that were parked for acquisition became available and Disney is taking advantage of that windfall. They did this once before and sold back much of that land when WestCot died and became DCA.
    Sam Gennawey

  3. Tim McRaven

    You started off pretty good. Then you went a little nuts. And you missed one of the most important factors: the streetcar that Anaheim wants to put in.

    The Carrousel Inn property is just as likely to be used to get the streetcar closer to the East Esplanade as it is to service the new parking structure. It is easy to see it doing both jobs. Disney was not happy that the train would only come as close as Disney Way. Hence the hotel purchase. The streetcar will run from the ARTIC station near Angel Stadium, west toward the Park. The High Speed rail plan is so long range and so expensive that it is far from a sure thing.

    I believe them when they say there is no working plan for a Third Gate. Keep your eyes on the east side of the property.

  4. Pingback: Disney Buys More Land Across The Street From Disneyland | Filmdot

  5. Jan

    Disney also just purchased the old recreation vehicle park at the corner of Harbor and Ball whihc it has turned into a cast lot.

    1. John Frost Post author

      Yeah, there just wasn’t room to fit everything purchased on the map. Plus that is limited to being remote parking for cast. Potentially it could be sold or traded for other property. Who knows.

      1. Tyler Kelson

        I am working on a map project now to highlight all of the property that Disney owns for the parks in Anaheim, I have the Toy Story lot, Pumbaa lot and new adjacent properties + Carousel Inn, DL/DCA/DTD/Hotels/Parking, and the new cast lot at the NE corner of Harbor and Ball. Are there any other plots of land that Disney has acquired that I am missing? I heard they had some backstage buildings already offsite.

  6. thomas

    Hmmm. Now wouldn’t it be interesting if Disney took that large Blue A area and swapped it with the Convention Center. Then the city build a BRAND new convention center there Disney demolished the old one, tunneled Katalla under and connected their new plot of land to the back of DCA. Hmmmmmmmm.

  7. bhbob

    Just a small thing… the bottom left corner should not be colored blue in the one picture. It’s a hotel scheduled to open this fall.

    1. Nancy Nally

      Having stayed at both the Hyatt Place across the street from that location and the Best Western next door to it earlier this year, I can vouch that is correct. A brand new hotel is about to open in the lower left corner of that blue box, next to the Best Western Raffles.

  8. Scott

    A friend of a friend works for a company that does metal fabrication for Disney construction projects. The rumor I was told is that Tomorrow Land is going away to be replaced with a Star Wars theme. Take it with a grain of salt but it would make sense if they want to get Star Wars up and running faster. However, it would have a negative impact on the park for a prolonged period of time while under construction. Not sure what to believe at this point but I thought I would share.

    1. Sharon

      Honestly? Never in a bazillion years would that happen. I would bet my spleen on it they will never touch the classic land themes. Update them, tweak them, rework them, yes, but there will always be an Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, etc…

  9. Jesse

    I agree that a waterpark could and should be built in the Paradise Pier location, but I doubt Disney Parks would remove the hotel. The hotel would simply be upgraded to include a special entrance complex into the new park for those guests staying at PP.
    Also, shipping backstage areas further from the Park proper is probably the most logical use of the newly purchased land. Buildings already exist that can be more easily modified.
    If Disney builds a guest parking garage where the Pumbaa lot is now, they should consider a moving walking path style skybridge over Harbor and into the Esplanade area to keep Disney theming intact on guests’ way in. It looks to me like a vehicle/track skybridge would be inevitable where the Carousel Inn land now sits.

  10. Darryl

    Very interesting stuff, nice job…now for my two cents…the “1” and “2” lots in pink and gold would be parking structure connected via the Carousel Inn by way of PeopleMover (thus squashes the crying for it be returned in Tomorrowland) and TDA offices, etc…Circle D will be moved more to the west, I don’t see them moving horses back and forth across Harbor in any fashion…and the rest of the west side backstage area down to Indiana Jones will remain, too small of a sliver to worry about or relocate. They do have to look at all aspects of operations, such as a simple thing like repainting a park bench. When I took my CM tour (way back), the pant shed was (is?) in the long building at the extreme west side…they aren’t going to haul a park bench over to the Manchester site to paint it. The “A” lot?…maybe just keep it as CM parking. ToonTown will remain and most of the north backstage will be Star Wars Land and Marvel will creep more into Tomorrowland. Why they haven’t given everyones “expectation” of the future with a flying car ride, I’ll never know…think a glorified Peter Pan type track, dark, neon a la Jetsons, would have been a good use for the Innovention bldg. I have read rumors about moving Autopia to DCA/Paradise Pier, but why, other than it fits better there than Tomorrowland? Why rip out and move it ($$$$) and build something else there…just build that “something else” in DCA.

    1. tavis medrano

      the Autopia is one of the worst environmentally unsound rides in the park. A waiver was granted Disneyland to keep it operating when the two separate tracks were combined. A move to the area behind cars land makes sence, will keep kids in DCA and the whole fleet could be replaced by hybrids. Every car company would line up to be the sponsor of that fleet. Move the Autopia out and build an Iron Man roller coaster there. Change the innovations building to Stark Tower with the coaster line wrapping thru it. This would totally reinvigorate Tommorowland.
      Building a world class water area connected to an expanded paradise pier hotel (couple new towers) would help Downtown Disney as well.
      And it looks like Disney could also build a new off ramp to a new parking structure off the 5 south to eleviate pressure on the always crowded mickey and friends structure

  11. Darryl

    That should have read “…be parking structure connected BY WAY OF PEOPLEMOVER TO THE TRANSPORTATION HUB NEXT OT THE ESPLANADE GOING OVER HARBOR BLVD via the Carousel Inn AREA…”

  12. Nancy Nally

    As a regular visitor (at least once a year for most of the last 8 years) to the Anaheim Convention Center for events, I will say it is due for some upgrading/expanding. That said…I don’t see it as practical to use the blue area to expand the center in conjunction with the existing building. It’s an entire city block away and not close enough for attendees to be able to practically use the existing building and the expansion area. The only practical use of that area would be to rebuild the convention center from scratch, and implode the old one. This would raise new problems however as the existing center is served by immediate pedestrian access from the Hilton and Marriott luxury hotels. Moving the center would create the odd situation of the closest hotels to the center being all lower grade or budget hotels – the Best Western, Hyatt Place, Sheraton, Clarion, etc, and cause attendees to have to cause a very busy street to get to the center. This would not be popular with many attendees and would make the new center in a way less desirable than the current one for shows.

  13. Nick


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