Disneyland is currently in the middle of a huge expansion that will bring part of a galaxy far, far away to Anaheim. Along the way it will remake the Rivers of America and correct a guest flow problem in the park eliminating a dead end and allowing guest to finally travel from Critter Country all the way to Fantasyland. Work will be completed in 2019 and it’s not too early to start thinking about what comes next to the Disneyland Resort.
The first signs of the next big change are already underway at Disney California Adventure. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is well on its way to a Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! transformation with a grand opening day of May 27. Eventually that corner of the park will be turned over completely to a Marvel themed land.
As part of the transformation Hollywood Land will be absorbed in to the new Marvel themed area at DCA. The streets will look more like you’re in New York City, where a lot of the Marvel super hero action is located. Existing buildings, including Hyperion Theater, would get new facades including nods to various Marvel landmarks and heroes. Expect the area to be Avengers heavy.
At Disneyland we are hearing that Fantasyland Theater and Motorboat Cruise area is planned for a ‘New Fantasyland’ makeover, not quite to the scale of Walt Disney World, but the same idea. Expect Something from “Frozen” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Would not be surprised if these were similar to what Toyko Disneyland is getting.
The strongest rumor is for a “Be Our Guest” restaurant addition and a Belle Meet and Great like Enchanted Tales with Belle from MK’s new Fantasyland over where the Motorboat Cruise was and a Frozen attraction where the Fantasyland Theatre is now. Not sure how they could build the Be Our Guest Restaurant and Beasts Castle without re-routing the Monorail in that area. That’s an expensive proposition.
Fans of ToonTown will be happy to hear the plan is to save that area, but Star Wars land has removed any chance of it expanding in the near future.
Walt Disney Imagineering has another big target in its sights, a major Tomorrowland makeover. You’ll have to wait until after New Fantasyland and Marvel makeovers are done (or at least phase one of each is complete). WDI sees an opening for the Tomorrowland makeover they’ve been wanting to do. Star Wars Launch Bay will be redundant once the new land opens. The Jedi Training Academy will move to the new area. Hyperspace Mountain and Star Tours are also seen as redundant. WDI wants to salvage the motion-simulators for a Iron Man attraction in DCA (like the one that just opened in Hong Kong Disneyland).
I’ll be sorry to see Star Tours go, but the new theme for Tomorrowland is something big. The entire concept of Tomorrowland might be scrapped for something that is less subject to the ever quickening place of technological enhancement. No building, except for Space Mountain, is sacred in this vision.
There’s one more major rumor floating around. When it can Imagineering likes to save money by either reusing an existing ride mechanism (why you saw omnimovers everywhere in the 60s and 70s) or, if at all possible, order two of the same attraction where real cost savings come in. The speculation is that if Walt Disney World gets a version of the Shanghai Disneyland TRON coaster, then WDI would order a second one to be used at Disneyland. The question is would they build it at DCA where they had planned to add an Avengers themed hyper-coaster, or would they replace Innoventions/Launch Bay in Tomrrowland and have the coaster track itself soar above Tomorrowland.
Of course Disneyland is more than just two theme parks, it’s a resort with hotels and a shopping district, which brings me to the last set of rumors. Although this isn’t really a rumor since Disneyland has already announced it.
A new Luxury resort will be added to Disneyland’s lineup. The hotel is still in design phase, but there’s a push to get it built sooner rather than later.
While the Grand Californian seemed luxury level compared to other Anaheim hotels, at Walt Disney World it would be considered on the level of Wilderness Lodge (same architect, btw), not Four Seasons. This new hotel will be first true luxury resort at Disneyland.
As was previously announced the intended location is north of Disneyland hotel and south of Mickey and Friends parking structure. It will use some existing free space and about 10-acres of the Downtown Disney parking lot.
This location is key because Disney wants to provide a hotel tower that is tall enough to have a top deck feature with dining that looks out into Disneyland. That’s tricky because they also want to make sure the hotel can’t be seen from inside the birm of the park. Given the location of the Star Wars expansion this can get very tricky.
The Luxury hotel and the already under construction Splittsville are two key parks of a new vision for Downtown Disney. They want to follow the Disney Springs model and enlarge it to have more dining, different themed neighborhoods, and more entertainment options.
Finally, we hear that plans for the Eastern Gateway and the new parking garage are still a go. The last business on the Carousel Inn & Suites property are closing, or just closed. However, the city of Anaheim is currently still reviewing the project. Meanwhile a lot of the plots of land on Harbor Blvd not owned by Disney are about to experience makeovers of their own. A lot of those hotels are file permits for a teardown a replacement with a new larger hotel.
Keep in mind that these are just rumors and shoud be taken with a grain of salt. Some times plans change and projects that once seemed certain get shelved. Other times, rumors are nothing more than trial balloons that different factors at Disney are floating to build support for their pitches. But now and then, the Disney fan community gets it right too. Which of the above rumors would you like to see become a reality?