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Disneyland plans expansion to fill in underutilized spaces in the Anaheim Resort.

Westside expansion plans at Disneyland Resort
Westside expansion plans at Disneyland Resort

Disneyland previews massive expansion to fill in blank spaces within its 490-acre Anaheim, CA footprint with new attractions, shops, and restaurants. The resort is calling it the Disneyland Forward plan. The plan aims to pave the way forward with the city of Anaheim with a look at what could be if the two parties work together.

We don’t have much more to go on then new concept art and a sample map that was released today and an announcement from Disney officials. The concept art envisions potential expansion on both the west side and east side of the resort.

The concept art shows how the west side of the resort, where the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel are now, will see new development that could include new lands for both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure and expanded shopping and dining areas of the Downtown Disney District.

On the east side, more concept art shows a potential new parking structure and a new shopping and dining district in the area south of Katella where the Toy Story and employee parking lot is now. This could also be home to new hotels as it is across the street from the convention center.

The announcement also mentions that Disneyland is still considering building a parking structure across Harbor Blvd. along with a bridge that would cross over the street directly into the resort.

While no new third gate is planned, although it’s not off the table either, Disney officials mentioned that new attractions might be part of the expansion. Nothing official has been announced, but other Disney theme parks have recently added, or will soon add, a Beauty and Beast attraction, Frozen rides, or even a Zootopia attraction.

“Guests need and want more,” said Jeanette Lomboy, Disney portfolio executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. “In order to give guests what they want, we need more flexibility in Anaheim.”

“The possibilities are endless,” Lomboy said. “We’re excited about the possibilities and ready to dream.”

Again, no one is saying that what’s listed in the concept art or sample maps is fixed in stone. In fact, it will probably change.

That said, What we like about this sample map (above) showing the expanded areas being connected to the main parks (probably by bridges over Disneyland Drive).

There also appears to be entrance gates into both areas from what is now the Downtown Disney district are right outside the Disneyland hotel. This would make getting into and out of the parks easier if you were a resort hotel guest.

The Disney California Adventure exapsnion is very water focused. There appears to be at least one roller coaster going through our around a large mountain. Thre is also a boat/water attraction. It also looks tobe home to two large show buildings for dark rides or dining.

The Disneyland expansion, occupies the space between the parking lot and the Disneyland hotel. It appears to have multiple attractions, shops and dining facilities.

Disneyland has previously announced an expansion of the parking garage and a Luxury Hotel, they even closed down part of Downtown Disney to start construction, before the project was canceled.

These changes were part of what has lately been a tumultuous relationship between Disneyland and the city of Anaheim. In order for Disneyland Forever to move forward, Disney will have to get the city of Anaheim on board for zoning changes and related regulation around hotels and parking.

Location and possible project map

At The Disney Blog, we’ve been discussing similar plans for the Disneyland Resort for a while and think that the lack of capacity in its theme parks is a huge problem cutting off any potential growth for the crown jewel of the Disney theme park kingdom.

We hope that Disneyland and the city of Anaheim can work together to maximize both the available space and build out some internal transportation systems (think peoplemover or self-driving shuttles) that will help connect the entire Anaheim Resort District together into a cohesive whole.

By crossing Disneyland drive to the west for new expansion, this gives Disneyland and Disney California Adventure much needed room to grow and will help alleviate what is the biggest complaint from guests, overcrowding.

I wouldn’t take these early concept art paintings as much more than a first silo fired at the city of Anaheim. Sort of a statement of intent. It’s also not clear what the timeline is on these expansion ideas.

That said, with Disneyland closed for more than a year, the city of Anaheim missed out on a lot of tax revenue. To see a project from Disneyland that would not require public financing and would result in increased revenues, is probably something they can get behind. The Disneyland Resort theme parks both reopen on April 30.

The Disneyland Resort has released a website called Disneyland Forward to help built excitement about the project within the Anaheim and fan community.

It’s early, and there isn’t much detail announced at all, but what you think of Disneyland Forward? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

(hat tip to LA Times)