Disneyland's Massive Expansion Just Took A Huge Step Forward And Now I'm Getting Excited

 Partners statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle at night
Partners statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle at night

It’s been quite some time since we heard much of anything concrete about DIsneylandForward, the massive expansion plan for Disneyland Resort that will expand both theme parks, add more shopping and dining, and even conceivably add a third theme park to the resort. But now it’s time to get excited once again because the environmental impact report is here! No seriously, get excited about an environmental impact report, because it’s a huge step toward Disneyland’s massive expansion actually happening.

The environmental impact report for DisneylandForward is, and I’m not exaggerating, 17,000 pages long. It includes a discussion of every conceivable way that an expansion would impact the area, from air quality and noise to geology and cultural impact. I won’t pretend to have read the entire thing, but the basic structure of the expansion remains unchanged from the initial DisneylandForward design, as it would include expansion of both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure across Disneyland Drive. And it could even see theme park expansion surrounding the Disneyland Hotel and the Pixar Pier hotel, essentially turning everything into one massive theme park.

The document does include a tentative plan of the time of new attractions that could be added which include,

  • North [Disneyland] Expansion:3 Outdoor Family rides, 2 Indoor Family rides, 2 round rides, 1 Outdoor Thrill ride, and 1 Indoor Thrill ride.

  • South [DCA] Expansion: 2 Outdoor Family rides, 2 Indoor Family rides, 1 Outdoor Thrill ride

Based on the number of attractions in each space, we could be seeing the equivalent of three new lands added to Disneyland and perhaps as many as two to Disney California Adventure. The specifics of what will actually go in the theme park expansions have not yet been decided, but Disney has suggested we could see World of Frozen, the new land coming to Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris as well as something like the Peter Pan area that is part of the new Fantasy Springs area at Tokyo DisneySea.

There are also plans to transform the current Toy Story parking lot. There are few details there, but the document does specify that Disneyland Resort would reserve the right to transform it into a third park.

The existence of the draft EIR is evidence that DisneylandForward will be approved by the city. One does not spend the time and resources involved in creating 17,000 pages if they’re not sure their project is going to happen. If things have reached this point, the city is essentially on board.

What makes this exciting isn’t just the expansion, but the way this would fundamentally transform Disneyland Resort. It would barely look like the same place when this was completed. While there’s a lot to be said about the “blessing of size” that Walt Disney World has, the compact nature of Disneyland has its benefits, and this would make it all bigger, but also make the total resort feel more available, as wherever you walked, you’d still be there.

Of course, as exciting as it all is, it’s all years away. The draft EIR will now be available for all to review and comment on, and then Disneyland will need to respond to all comments, before submitting the final document to the city of Anaheim. Disney has already said it hopes to get approval for DIsneylandForward early next year, this is the document that they are looking to get accepted. Once the City of Anaheim accepts the EIR, this expansion is happening. Though on what timeline, we can't begin to speculate.