Close Banner
special offer
more savings GET MY TICKETS
Home / Blog / News & Announcements / Disneyland Resort Approved to Expand with DisneylandForward

Disneyland Resort Approved to Expand with DisneylandForward

by Leap on May 7, 2024
Los Angeles

Inside This Post Inside This Post

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow at Disneyland Resort. Disney was officially approved to expand the Disneyland theme parks, hotel offerings, entertainment, parking, restaurants and more. The project is called DisneylandForward. Disney is moving forward, committing at least $1.9 billion to this expansion over the next decade. It’s in the beginning planning stages and will take time to develop. The ideas unveiled in this initial plan reimagine underutilized areas of the property and would reshape the Disneyland Resort for the next 40 years. It’s toadally exciting to imagine the possibilities!

Disneyland Resort Looks to Expand with DisneylandForward - Disneyland Theme Park Expansion Proposal

The city of Anaheim gave final unanimous approval to the project on May 7, 2024. Disney has committed to spending $1.9 billion over the next 10 years.

The team behind Disneyland Resort first shared the major "multiyear public planning effort" of DisneylandForward with the public on Thursday, March 25, 2021. In 2023, Disneyland Resort held several community coffees during which members of the community were able to learn more and ask questions.

According to Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock: "Thinking big and leading the way is both our legacy and our best path forward. Now is the time to be bold, to dream, to believe and to lead! The Disneyland Resort is poised to create new jobs for our community as well as new immersive entertainment and experiences for loyal fans and new audiences for generations to come."

How Will DisneylandForward Affect Disneyland Resort?

Disneyland Resort Looks to Expand with DisneylandForward-Front entrance Disneyland

Walt Disney said that Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. Well, the Disneyland Imagineers and executives are dreaming big with this new plan while still keeping Walt's original park we know and love preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Disney can now bring new lands and stories that are popular at other Disney Parks worldwide to life at Disneyland without having to replace other beloved attractions. New projects, lands or attractions could be themed around "Avatar," "Coco," "Encanto," "Frozen," "Tangled," "Peter Pan," "Zootopia," "Toy Story," "Black Panther" and "Tron."

An “Avatar” land sits at the top of the list for potential lands. "Avatar" was planned for Disneyland no matter what, but it can potentially be much bigger now that DisneylandForward is moving forward.

When Disneyland was built in 1955, nobody could have predicted the impact Disneyland has had on the once-rural community on which it was built. Now surrounded by the city of Anaheim, which grew up around it, Disneyland has very defined boundaries of its 4,800 acres, leaving little room to expand beyond its footprint. (By comparison, Disney World sits on approximately 30,000 acres.) Planning restrictions for parts of the property limited what the land could be used for, but Disney got approvals to make changes in order to utilize those spaces for new attractions, lands, shopping and dining. And that brings us to this planning process.

The development agreement determines where new theme park construction could occur over the next 40 years. Disney now has the flexibility to determine what to build, all within the footprint of Disneyland's current properties.

What Are the Affected Areas?

There are four major areas that Disney will improve upon:

  • West of Disneyland Drive (to the sides of Pixar Place Hotel and Disneyland Hotel, some of Downtown Disney and some current parking lots)
  • The current Toy Story Lot (this may include shopping and experiences similar to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World)
  • The current cast member lot off Disney Way (behind the Harbor Boulevard businesses across from Disneyland Resort and east of the resort entrance)
  • Magic Way (the final vote approved selling Magic Way and sections of Disneyland Drive and another road to Disney for $40 million)

The $1.9 billion investment over the next 10 years goes toward theme park lands, attractions, hotels, shopping and dining west of Disneyland Drive and on the current Toy Story parking lot.

The proposed theme park investment by Disneyland over the first decade has two parts: There is a minimum commitment of $1.9 billion and a higher level of $2.5 billion. Additionally, Disneyland is committed to paying $5 million in street and transportation improvements if the company does not spend the extra $600 million in the first 10 years.

This multi-billion dollar investment by Disney does not include the millions to be spent on parking structures, pedestrian bridges and road improvements in the theme park resort area. In the proposal, Disney is expected to spend $40 million to purchase portions of roads surrounding and currently cutting through the resort — including sections of Magic Way, Clementine Street, Gene Autry Way and Hotel Way — to clear the way for the proposed expansion.

The city of Anaheim will receive more than $100 million in community benefits from Disney. Most of the money goes to acquiring streets and paying for infrastructure improvements, such as sewers and roads. Disney will give Anaheim $30 million for affordable housing, along with $8 million for city parks and an additional $45 million in traffic improvements and pedestrian safety.

This is not the first time Disneyland has turned its parking lots into other magical spaces (such as the original Disneyland parking lot making way for Disney California Adventure Park and Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa). In the 1990s, Disney led an expansion of Disneyland Resort and improvement to transportation around the resort as well as creating the Anaheim resort area that surrounds the property. This led to the addition of the second theme park, two hotels, the Downtown Disney shopping district and a new parking structure (and more recently, a second parking structure).

Disney holds land that currently functions as employee and guest parking lots. The company gained some flexibility to expand the use of the land for more than the 1990s planning restrictions allowed. For example, land that was zoned for a parking lot or hotel could allow for theme park experiences, retail and dining, as well. Disney does not plan to add more square footage than has already been approved by the city. Instead, Disney is updating the existing approvals to allow for integrated development to be located and built on Disney properties.

DisneylandForward looks to the land of tomorrow to support future development for years to come. Disney is investing in transportation, parking, transit and pedestrian safety as part of this plan. Disney is not asking for any public funds to complete these projects.

The residents of Anaheim will benefit from this project as well. Disney proposed spending millions more for housing and parks, as part of a proposed agreement with Anaheim to pave the way for new development at its theme park properties.

Disneyland Resort Looks to Expand with DisneylandForward - Map of property and changes to come

West Side Expansion of the Resort

This "Immersive Theme Park" west side changes are the most frogciting to us. The plans include a possible theme park expansion for both parks into the land that currently surrounds the Disneyland Hotel, parts of Downtown Disney (where the unused ESPN Zone and AMC theater are currently located), Pixar Place Hotel and some surrounding parking lots. The hotels will remain and be surrounded by the theme park areas. The streets that surround this area include Katella Avenue, Walnut Street, Disneyland Drive and Magic Way. The additions could also include hotel, retail, dining and entertainment.

There is no third theme park planned. Under the current concept art, we see that the two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, will remain separate but each expand across Disneyland Drive into land that is on either side of the Disneyland hotel. That land is currently primarily used as parking lots.

New lands and experiences could be inspired by popular Tokyo Disney Sea and Shanghai Disneyland, as well as rides and lands at Disney World. For example, guests could visit Arendelle in a "Frozen" land with a thrilling boat adventure and restaurant set inside the castle. Or they could have the "best day ever" with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from "Tangled." Visitors could ride a gondola to see the lantern festival. I don't know about you, but "I have a dream" of dining in the Snuggly Duckling, where Rapunzel encountered a band of thieves.

Off we go! We could sail off to Neverland, "second star to the right and straight on 'til morning!" We could board a boat ride to follow the Lost Boys down a river or take a journey to the middle of Pixie Hollow where Tinker Bell and her fairy friends dwell. Other lands and attractions could weave in "Zootopia," Toy Story Land and "Tron."Oh boy, the possibilities are endless!

Disneyland Resort Looks to Expand with DisneylandForward - Concept Art for East Side Expansion

East Side Expansion at Current Toy Story Lot

A new Disney Entertainment Destination could take over the current Toy Story parking lot from Harbor Boulevard to Haster Street to parts of Katella at Clementine. The additional possible uses include a hotel, theme park experience, a parking and transportation expansion and more retail, dining and entertainment. How does a theme park experience that is not physically connected to either theme park work? We are hoppin' curious to find out!

Expanded Parking at the Current Pumbaa Lot off Disney Way

Disneyland Forward - Disneyland sign from Harbor Blvd.

The land behind the Harbor Boulevard businesses across from Disneyland Resort (east of the resort entrance) could become a new lot. That 17,000-space eastside parking structure would have direct connections from the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway. This structure would be larger than the combined current Mickey & Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures.

This area is currently occupied by the cast member lot off Disney Way. Guests would access Disneyland by up to three new pedestrian bridges over Harbor Boulevard from the eastside parking structure. The bridges would also provide access to the hotels, shops and restaurants along the busy street below. Katella Avenue would be widened with improved intersections. Two other bridges over Disneyland Drive could be built as part of the project.

Keep in mind that DisneylandForward will take years to build. But before we know it, we could adventure into a whole new world of Disneyland experiences that will meet the needs and interests of theme park visitors for years to come.

We are sure you have a ton of questions about DisneylandForward. So do we! But we will do our best to answer them in the comments section below. Keep hopping back for updates.

Related: What's Coming to Disneyland in 2024 and Beyond

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
View Comments

Leave a comment

Search blog articles

About Undercover Tourist

Undercover Tourist is the leading supplier of online discount tickets to Orlando, Florida-area attractions, including Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort™, SeaWorld® Orlando, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort and more.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Get the inside scoop on theme park news, planning tips, concert and sports announcements, special offers and much more!

Park Plans

Our step-by-step guides will save you up to 4 hours a day.