Could Future Disneyland Expansion Be Even Bigger Than We Thought?

Partners statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle at night
(Image credit: Disneyland)

2023 has already been a massive year for the Disneyland Resort. We’ve seen a major new attraction in Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway alongside two very well received brand new nighttime spectaculars in Disneyland’s Wonderous Journeys fireworks (the excellent theme song recently hit streaming services) and Disney California Adventure’s World of Color - One. And with the long-awaited return of the Magic Happens parade finally here, and a freshly renovated Mickey’s ToonTown set to reopen in just a few days, Disneyland has done a lot in a short period of time. So what’s next?

A couple of years ago Disneyland Resort announced what they called Disneyland Forward, a new plan that would renovate large areas of the resort area that would, among many other things, expand both theme parks significantly. Exactly when, or even if, any of that will happen is still a question but at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, CEO Bob Iger seemed to imply that there might be even more opportunity for expansion in California than we realize saying…

Certainly in Florida, we have a lot of property. We have a lot of opportunity outside the United States. We actually have more opportunity in California than people are aware.

Iger certainly could just be referring to Disneyland Forward itself in these comments. If the expansion happens as it was previously described, it would certainly represent a significant expansion “opportunity. The thing is, Disneyland Forward was announced nearly two years ago, so we are all very aware of what opportunity exists there. So does that mean Bob Iger could be talking about something even bigger, or something more? 

It’s difficult to guess what he means unless there is literally land in California owned by Disney that we don’t know about. Such a thing is technically possible but would seem unlikely, but the fact that Iger says “California” and not “Anaheim” or “Disneyland” could even indicate he’s talking about expansion elsewhere in the state.

Disney has owned other properties in California in the past. In the 1960s they had the rights to a part of what is now the Sequoia National Forest called Mineral King. Walt Disney had designs on a year-round mountain vacation destination that fell apart after he died. In the '90s Disney owned part of the port of Long Beach and nearly built a second gate there called Port Disney, but the decision was made to build Disney California Adventure instead.  

The only thing that we know for sure is on the way for Disneyland is some sort of Avatar experience. It’s unclear if this will be a single new attraction or show, or perhaps an entirely new land for the park similar to the one found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Everything is pointing to something on the bigger side, though without the massive new expansion of Disneyland Forward, it’s difficult to see where something of that size would even go?

The problem is that, while the proposed plan for Disneyland Forward doesn’t require any new land, it uses existing Disneyland Resort property in new ways, due to previous agreements, the resort can’t make those changes without approval from the City of Anaheim. Disneyland has had to struggle with its limited space almost since the beginning, but the park has always figured out ways to expand. Whether we’re looking at a major expansion of Disneyland or even something new in California, it seems clear Disney is looking to grow. How much, and how fast, we’ll have to wait and see. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.