The Disneyland Resort has yet to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic (mouse ears crossed for its April 30 relaunch), but, Disney is already conjuring more magic with a major proposal for property investment potentially headed to its California location.
This week, the House of Mouse launched its "DisneylandForward" initiative, billed as "a multiyear public planning effort with the City of Anaheim to update existing development approvals that will allow Disney to meaningfully invest in Anaheim for years to come and meet the future demands in entertainment." It is a direct response to the city of Anaheim previously approving long-term development rights for the resort in the 1990s that sectioned off distinct portions of land for certain types of expansion, including zoned districts for hotels, theme park additions, and more. The DisneylandForward proposal claims the existing, outdated approvals "limit [the park's] ability to continue to invest in Anaheim and bring the types of experiences guests are demanding today."
While the proposal includes concept art teasing possible expansion into underdeveloped property on both the Disneyland and Disney California Adventure lot, Disney hasn't announced specifics regarding what might be on the way if the vision comes to life. Judging by the concept art, though, any potential expansion could be accessible from both existing parks.
According to a Disney representative, "these are not expansion plans" but rather "a planning effort to allow for more integrated experiences and investment." While there are no concrete rides or lands under construction, the concept art teases what could be around the corner pending approval for a massive evolution of the park. EW has further confirmed with Anaheim city spokesperson Mike Lyster that conversations are ongoing, and that the DisneyForward proposal is part of a larger, two-year effort to develop and rezone parcels of land on Disneyland property.
Wakanda from Black Panther
In recent years, Disney has increased Marvel's presence at its global properties. Disney California Adventure will open its Avengers Campus later this year, while the park's Tower of Terror drop ride was recently converted to a Guardians of the Galaxy motif from its Twilight Zone theme. More Marvel attractions are also operating at Hong Kong Disneyland (namely an Iron Man simulator), with major rides on deck for that park in the near future.
DisneylandForward, however, offers perhaps the most exciting preview of a potential Marvel attraction to date. Although the site does not specifically mention Wakanda or Black Panther by name, eagle-eyed fans have found similarities between locales from the Chadwick Boseman-starring superhero movie and the top-down schematic on Disney's website.
Arendelle from Frozen
As part of a multi-year overhaul of Florida's Epcot park, the company announced plans to revamp the look and feel of the destination to include more family-friendly hallmarks from Disney properties. The phased opening — which began with the conversion of The Living Seas aquarium to a Finding Nemo pavilion — further touted future rides and attractions based on Ratatouille, Guardians of the Galaxy, Moana, and more.
The expansion later spread into the park's World Showcase section in 2016, when the Norway land's Maelstrom boat ride underwent a massive refurbishment before reopening as Frozen Ever After, incorporating characters and scenes from the Oscar-winning movie. DisneylandForward also references the potential addition of Arendelle, as well as a boat-based journey through the world of the film and a restaurant inside a large castle, if expansion is permitted for rezoned districts.
Piggybacking on Shanghai Disneyland's long-gestating Zootopia land, Anaheim might soon be home to an intricate City of Zootopia pavilion capturing the hustle and bustle of the 2016 animated film's titular critter metropolis. Details regarding Shanghai's version remain slim (though concept art confirms an appearance by Shakira's hooved pop star, Gazelle), though DisneyForward touts a potential major ride that, if approved, could "blend Disney storytelling and state-of-the-art technology to bring this fan-favorite movie and its characters to life."
Guests have long delighted in the absurdity of the Magic Kingdom's delightfully odd, one-off addition of a Tangled-themed bathroom at the Florida resort, but a full-fledged land based on the Mandy Moore-starring 2010 animated story (loosely based on the classic Rapunzel tale) might be in the works.
Using the version currently under construction at Tokyo DisneySea's Fantasy Springs as an example, a potential Tangled land in California could spotlight a physical recreation of Rapunzel's Tower from the film and, if we're lucky, another epic Tangled bathroom lifted from Disney World.
The DisneyForward site also references a gondola ride traveling through a lantern festival to capture the essence of Rapunzel's "best day ever," as well as a restaurant modeled after a scene that sees the character befriending a band of thieves.
Neverland from Peter Pan
Though no major, full-land recreations of Peter Pan's cinematic world exist at any Disney parks (outside of the standalone Peter Pan's Flight dark rides at five locations, and an in-development area at Tokyo Disneyland's Fantasy Springs), the DisneyForward initiative includes concept art speculating what a Neverland pavilion — that could feature a boat ride where Tinker Bell guides riders down a river with the Lost Boys, and another dark ride where Tink takes guests to her fairy-filled Pixie Hollow home — might look like if it were to be built at Disneyland.
One of Disney's most popular movie franchises has translated into one of its most beloved in-person experiences. Since 2010, themed lands based on the Toy Story films have opened at four Disney parks around the world, including France's Walt Disney Studios, Florida's Disney's Hollywood Studios, Shanghai Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland. California Adventure also contains a Toy Story Mania! interactive dark ride, though the park doesn't boast a dedicated Toy Story section.
If approved, DisneyForward's long-term plans appear to include attractions inspired by past Toy Story Land additions, and may include roller coasters inspired by Slinky Dog and RC Racer, Pizza Planet's green aliens, and Woody's lunch box — all experienced by guests who will traverse the larger-than-life recreations of everyday objects as if they've "shrunk" down to the size of a toy.
See a walk-through tour of Shanghai Disneyland's Toy Story Land below.
A little right of center in the overview image on the concept art, you can see two large, purple canopies standing in front of a show building. The only other Disney Parks attraction to utilize a similar structure is Shanghai Disneyland's Tron Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster — a second version of which is currently under construction at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Manufactured by Dutch firm Vekoma — the same company that worked with Disney on Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind coaster heading to Epcot — the coaster features technologically advanced, neon-coated theming that immerses riders in the world of the Tron franchise as they launch from zero-to-60 miles per hour across twisted steel track.
See a POV video from the Shanghai Disneyland version below.
A new entertainment district
Finally, DisneylandForward opens up the possibility of a new entertainment district made in the likeness of Florida's Disney Springs, with a focus on catering "to locals, conventioneers, hotel and Disneyland Resort guests with restaurants, hotels, live music, shopping, ticketed shows, and theme park experiences modeled after the popular Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort."
All of this, the website says, will only be possible with intense investment in area transportation, with Disney supposedly planning "to significantly invest in transportation, parking, transit and pedestrian safety measures to improve mobility throughout The Anaheim Resort."