Let's Talk About That Disneyland Expansion

August 5, 2015, 4:07 PM · Stories about a potential expansion at the Disneyland Resort have been popping up all over in the past day or two, but there's really nothing new happening that people who've been following the story don't already know.

Let's recap: Disney has been buying parcels of land around the Disneyland Resort over the past few years. The recent news covers the purchase of two buildings at 1515 and 1585 S. Manchester Ave. for $48 million, but Disney obtained control of those properties last year. In 2013, Disney bought 11 acres of land northeast of Interstate 5, near the resort. And, most recently, Disney bought the Carousel Inn property on Harbor Boulevard.

New Disney land
The shaded land east of Harbor is now under Disney control

The purchases of the Manchester buildings and the Carousel Inn give Disneyland a nice chunk of nearly 15 acres that are connected to the core resort, via a street crossing on Harbor. When Disney committed to more than $1 billion capital investment at the resort in exchange of the City of Anaheim continuing a ticket tax ban in the city, Disney suggested that the property could be used for additional parking, as well as back-of-house operations.

The clickbait here is the potential for new Star Wars and Marvel attractions at the resort. The angle is that the purchase of this surrounding property allows Disney to free backstage space around the parks for onstage expansions, and to build much-needed spaces to park all the cars that will be coming to the resort for those new attractions.

Fans should expect to see that new parking before any new Star Wars or Marvel attractions debut at the resort. Anyone who's driven to Disneyland on a Friday afternoon when all annual passes are valid knows that parking gets tight at the resort. Add Star Wars Land into the mix, and parking would become impossible. Disneyland needs to expand its parking options with a new garage before it opens any major new attractions at the resort.

As for those new attractions, Disney CEO Bob Iger has told investors that the company will add new Star Wars-themed attractions at all of its theme park resorts around the world. Disney owns the theme park rights to the Marvel characters in Southern California, and Marvel and Star Wars are two of the most popular entertainment franchises in the world. The only question is when Disney will build new lands in Anaheim devoted to these franchises, not whether they will happen.

Many fans are hoping that Disney will make an announcement about Star Wars Land at the D23 Expo in Anaheim next week. Given the high cost of developing new parking, Star Wars Land, and a Marvel-themed expansion at the same time, it's more likely that these expansions will happen in phases, with the parking first, followed by Star Wars, then Marvel.

Remember, Disney does not have the theme park rights to use most Marvel characters at Walt Disney World or Tokyo Disney, given Marvel's contract with Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Japan. So while Disney can distribute the costs of developing new Star Wars attractions across all of its properties, it can develop Marvel only in California, China, and France.

With space at a premium at the Disneyland Resort, adding a couple more dozen acres into the mix allows Disney greater design flexibility as it develops its Star Wars and Marvel expansions. Given the lack of any formal announcements from the company, just the news that Disney's buying extra land is enough to get fans excited about that expansion actually happening.

Replies (22)

August 5, 2015 at 5:34 PM · It's really fascinating how DL manages to grow in such a tightly developed area. Can't wait to see how this progresses.
Robert, what was the name of the company that purchased the land? Ayefive Corporation maybe?
August 5, 2015 at 6:33 PM · Just saw your interview / story on the ABC 7 news Robert!!

That was a nice shot of TPI :-)

August 5, 2015 at 7:31 PM · I know a lot of people don't like it, but we also can't forget that Disney owns the theme park rights to Avatar now. Avatar, Star Wars, Marvel, and throw in some Pixar for fluff and you've got yourself one heck of a theme park. That would over power the boy wonder that's moving down the road next year.
August 5, 2015 at 8:39 PM · Hmm so is it possible that some of the backstage areas north of Frontierland and by Toontown be moved to the new site to allow for expansion at Disneyland park. Also, isnt there a small parking lot and backstage area by Carsland and bugs land at DCA?

Whatever the case it's exciting to see movement

August 5, 2015 at 8:57 PM · There is so much IP that can't be cloned to other parks so each resort will be unique and worth visiting on its own. That's a better development. I hate the Disney World and Disneyland comparison the most, but the parks have developed their own unique personalities. The Studios parks need more differentiation. Seems like this will happen.
August 5, 2015 at 11:34 PM · Interesting looking at the map that Garden walk is perfectly poised almost as a second downtown disney that can connect the new parking facilities to the potential 3rd gate south of Katella. I really hope that is the long term plan for the resort. Disney has plenty of IP (not to mention the old school non IP way of doing things) to make an amazing 3rd gate. Does Disneyland really need to expand? It already has more attractions then any other Disney park and requires I'd say at least 2 or 3 days to see all of them. Star Wars and marvel can easily anchor a 3rd gate for decades to come. I really hope it's still in the plans!
August 6, 2015 at 2:23 AM · Will Disney ever be able have the rights to Marvel characters in Florida? If so, when?
August 6, 2015 at 6:02 AM · I can already hear the Universal fans pointing out that we haven't been given an exact date for when these new attractions will come.
August 6, 2015 at 6:43 AM · I think Robert is right, the space can be a place to move "back of house" operations at Disneyland and make more "front of house" space. But.....

Is anyone else thinking this is going to be the next spot for a hotel?

August 6, 2015 at 9:55 AM · Yes DLR needs to expand, both parks and a third gate. DISNEY also has all kinds of recent successful animated franchises that could and should be added to the parks. I love Star Wars and like Marvel, so fine, but don't forget Disney animation (and Pixar of course).
August 6, 2015 at 11:37 AM · More excuses for Bob Iger and his cronies to run Disney like a corporation and not bother with any investment. Profit is king, not the experience. Sadly, they are doing damage to the long term runnings of the park. I've heard of all this 'its coming soon' now for years.
August 6, 2015 at 1:39 PM · the boy wonder (Harry Potter West) will be up and running, generating revenue for five years before Disney begins to add anything, and another five before they are complete.

Potter is the reason why Disney is scrambling to put up new exquisitely themed lands. I have no idea why though, the Disney zombies will show up without them. It is all ego at this point.

August 6, 2015 at 1:48 PM · @N B Hollywood_ I know that Harry Potter will be up and running for a long time. I'm not taking any sides right now. Diagon Alley will be done on the west coast before Disney responds. I'm just saying that it will take A LOT to take down the thunder of Harry Potter. I've been to Universal Orlando with both Harry Potter lands open now and I just think that those lands alone will put a hurt on Disneyland because it is a regional park. For them to respond it's going to take a lot of properties to answer back. Well either that or a copy of Disney Sea ????????
August 6, 2015 at 2:24 PM · NB,

I love how you seem to think that calling Disney fans "zombies" is really going to convince them to go to Universal instead.

August 6, 2015 at 2:40 PM · "the Disney zombies" "it is all ego"
NB, I find your disrespectful attitude towards fellow theme park fans offensive and immature, and not worthy for this site.

You seem to be upset over something, as though Universal making less money than Disney is a personal affront to you. It should be noted that without Disney's presence, innovation and leadership in the theme park industry for decades, the industry (and Universal) would not exist in its current form. Without Disney being he major drawcard in Orlando for decades, Universal would have had none of the success it has in replicating the same attractions in every park across the globe.

Just because Disney has been somewhat stagnant in developing new atttactions during the Global Financial Crisis, does not mean the only reason they will develop now is because of Harry Potter.

Will Disney need to lift it's game to match the quality of Universal's new additions? Of course.

In the future, please refrain from attacking people for choosing to attend a different park from you.

August 6, 2015 at 4:47 PM · Grant you bring up a great point. How Disney and Universals creativity have benefited each other in a way that has been very beneficial to us fans. Yes it's frustrating how Disney World has moved extremely slow with ride additions (and in some cases like DHS is actually losing attractions) but Universals recent creative boom comes from immersive storytelling that Disney pioneered and perfected decades ago. Universal and Disney are currently inspiring and benefitting each other. It's the Sea worlds and other parks that have been left behind.
August 6, 2015 at 9:44 PM · Actually. They can build many Marvel rides in Orlando as well. The contract with Universal Orlando is only for specific characters...i believe Spider Man, Fantastic Four, Iron Man etc. Like 5 or 6 of the main ones. But the Marvel Universe is big. Moat likely they'll end up in the old Hollywood Studios theme park which is currently being completly re-done including a new name.
August 7, 2015 at 8:04 AM · Grant Crawford, what are you, some kind of lawyer? "Please refrain from..." Give me a break.

NB is upset for the same reason that many of us Disney fans are upset. Walt's legacy is being destroyed by greedy managers, who insist on cutting corners, even as they raise ticket prices through the roof.

August 7, 2015 at 10:46 AM · DLR does need to get something in the pipeline, because there has been little new since Cars Land opened in 2012. As for Potter at Universal Hollywood, I'm sure it will provide an attendance boost. But it's pretty irrelevant to anyone who has been to Orlando.
August 7, 2015 at 12:55 PM · Exciting times!!
August 7, 2015 at 3:48 PM ·, but he wasn't saying he was upset over Disney management, he was criticizing people for choosing to attend Disney parks. Where people chose to go for their recreation is their own decision.

Most people don't go to Orlando every year, they don't hang out for every piece of theme park news and read up on every ride before attending the park and they aren't that upset that a park doesn't get a new e-ticket every year or 2. The average person goes to Disney because for decades its been the leader in putting up great, family friendly themed entertainment. Just because Universal has created better attractions in Orlando for the last 5 years isn't a reason to attack people for going to Disney.

I'm getting sick of the Disney bashing on this site. I don't mind reasonable criticism, and for Disney World's lack of development some criticism is warranted. Disney needs to build new attractions as they appear to be doing, and I'm sure we'll find out more in the next month. I'm sorry if I sound like a lawyer, but I'm just tired of hearing "Universal is so awesome, Disney, you suck". If I wanted to hear this childish commentary, I'd go to IMDB.

August 9, 2015 at 6:13 AM · I wonder, rather than move existing functions to this space, freeing up directly connected land, whether they could have the new space as a separate area connected via a people mover over the road.

It could work really well for a ip themed for a transition between earth and another universe.

It would seem wasteful to put functions on prime land that don't need to be so closely located. Doing this would allow for more future growth.

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