Disneyland has laid out long-term plans for the expansion of theme parks, retail stores and parking lots as the Anaheim theme park prepares to work with the city to reimagine what the tourist district will look like for the next two decades.
DisneylandForward is Disney’s effort to work with the city to grow the Disneyland resort, update the plan for the resort district, and fuel Anaheim’s economic rebound in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disney will ask the city over the next several weeks and months for more flexibility in plans approved in the 1990s to be able to add a mix of theme parks, hotels, shops, restaurants and entertainment on the eastern and western edges of Disneyland. resource.
Jeanette Lomboy, Disneyland portfolio executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said during a press conference Thursday, March 25, that the DisneylandForward plan includes what might be possible in the future at the Disneyland resort with more flexibility and approvals from the city.
“Due to the rigid structure of the current district, we just need more flexibility,” Lomboy said. “We are excited about the possibilities and ready to dream. Believe me, we are not short of ideas, content or stories to tell or build. “
The west side expansion of the Immersive Theme Park provides for a theme park at Downtown Disney and the Lilo and Stitch parking lots between the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.
Disney officials described the west side site bounded by Katella Avenue, Walnut Street, Magic Way and Disneyland Drive as more of a theme park expansion than a new “third gate.”
Concept art for the west side site shows a central mountain surrounded by water with buildings interspersed at the southern end of the property. A mountainous ridge to the west separates the theme park from nearby neighborhoods.
The west side site connects to Downtown Disney near the unused AMC Theater and ESPN Zone.
Concept art for the north end of the west side site includes an Autopia-like car circuit and a Dumbo-like rotary drive.
The Disney Entertainment Destination east side expansion would unite theme park, hotel, shopping, dining and entertainment experiences in the Toy Story parking lot next to the Anaheim Convention Center.
The east side site at the 56-acre Fujishige strawberry farm turned Disney parking lot has long been discussed as a possible “third gate” for future theme park expansion.
The concept art of the east side shopping area features a central pond surrounded by shops and a low-rise hotel with a parking structure near the corner of Katella Avenue and Haster Street.
“What we do know today is that guests need and want more,” Lomboy said. “To give guests what they want, we need more flexibility here in Anaheim. Guests demand integrated immersive experiences that are not unique in their uses. We no longer think of uses as something separate. Retail, food, entertainment, theme parks, and hotels are all part of the same experiences in the same place. And we need the space on our lands to create environments rich in stories. “
The DisneylandForward plan also includes possible new parking along Disney Way.
However, the company’s ambitions will need to be approved by Anaheim leaders after a back-and-forth planning process that is expected to last two years before final decisions are made.
Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said the city at this time is receptive to updating zoning around the Disneyland complex and the surrounding tourist district around Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue. Rezoning in the 1990s paved the way for the construction of Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney, and the massive Mickey & Friends parking structure.
But restricting land to single uses is considered outdated, as urban planners consider how tourists in 2021 want to be immersed in their destination.
“The easiest way to think about it is that we would work with them to look at flexibility, to see how the sites are being used under that planning,” Lyster said. “Right now, according to the plan, you may have one area designated as ‘hotel’, you may have another designated as ‘entertainment.’
Moving forward, Disney is looking for “mixed-use” flexibility, Lyster said. “On the same plot, you would have a hotel and entertainment, instead of two different plots.”
For example, Disney could build its Toy Story parking lot on Katella Avenue, currently used as a mass coronavirus vaccination site, in a hotel, for which the land is already zoned.
“But with more flexible planning, perhaps it could also host entertainment uses,” which could add sales tax to future income, Lyster said.
The trials of the last pandemic year and the effect on the city’s tourist bloc are not lost on the City Council, which voted Tuesday to shore up a deficit of $ 108 million with loans of up to $ 210 million.
“In the past year, we have seen what the Disneyland Resort means to Anaheim’s economy and the role it plays in helping us provide vital public services to our residents, neighborhoods and businesses,” Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement.
“I welcome new ideas on how the Disneyland Resort evolves and how we best maximize this resource for our city,” said Sidhu.
This rethinking is evident in plans to rebuild areas around Angel Stadium and the Honda Center into apartment blocks, offices, shops, restaurants, and other mixed-use entertainment over the next decade.
“We see the three congratulating each other,” Lyster said. “We see it as our path to economic recovery in the next few years.”
The DisneylandForward presentation featured concept art from Disney theme park projects around the world that provide a “taste” of what future expansion at the Disneyland resort could look like. Projects presented by Lomboy included the Tangled, Frozen and Peter Pan themed lands coming to Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, the Zootopia themed land, the Disneytown shopping district and the Tron roller coaster at Shanghai Disneyland in China and Toy Story Land and the Disney Springs shopping district at Walt Disney World in Florida.
“We are not announcing anything specific today as part of DisneylandForward,” Lomboy said. “These kinds of projects should give you an idea of the kinds of integrated experiences that define the industry and story-rich lands that we want to bring to Anaheim.”
Disneyland “has only dipped into less than half” of the millions of square feet of theme park and hotel space that has already been approved for the tourist district, according to Disney officials.
DisneylandForward’s concept development plan remains within Disney’s existing 500-acre Anaheim property with no physical expansion or additional acreage.
“We’re not going to change the size of the toast, we’re just spreading the peanut butter,” according to a Disney official.