Last week Disneyland Resort revealed a proposal for expanding its theme parks, but what exactly was their aim with DisneylandForward, and what are the next steps?

Disney’s recent proposal, which they’ve named “DisneylandForward,” aims to help them change existing development policies to allow the resort to expand its offerings in the coming decades.

While concept art and examples for how the resort could be expanded were included in these proposals, Disney has made it clear that this is not an exact road map to the future of the resort, but instead some “what-ifs” to think about for what could be done.

Disney is not seeking any funding, nor are they planning to expand beyond their current property. The proposal aims to lift restrictions on what could be built and where within the existing resort.

The City of Anaheim approved specific plans in 1990s that helped the resort grow and eventually open Disney California Adventure. Disney is now seeking approval to change some of the restrictions within those plans to allow them to expand the theme parks into areas that are now allocated for hotel and parking lot use only.

By re-designating some areas to “mixed-use,” rather than single-use, Disney hopes to be able to expand Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure into some of the areas surrounding the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.

Possible method for expanding both theme parks and adding an entertainment district

While their proposal to the City of Anaheim, (as well as the official DisneylandForward website,) included some examples for what types of immersive, themed lands could be constructed in these areas, (like Frozen and Zootopia,) there aren’t any current plans to build anything specific at this time.

The proposal also suggests that a new entertainment district could be added to the resort. It could be located where the Toy Story parking lot sits now, and was described as a plussed Disney Springs-type area.

Disney expects the process to gain the approvals needed to expand the resort in this manner to take up to two years. That would be two years before the resort would even have the permission needed to begin to plan out its future expansions. And then, possible expansions themselves could come online over the next couple decades.

Artist Rendering of a new kind of integrated Disney entertainment destination with shopping, dining and entertainment

But what are the things that need to be approved, and what type of opposition will the company be facing?

As evident in Disney’s own concept renderings for possible theme park expansions, residential homes are located on the other side of Walnut Street, behind the Disneyland Hotel areas. These residents, as well as local businesses, will likely have a say in just how the resort expands.

Part of the approvals process for the plans made in the 1990s was based around keeping a buffer zone between residential homes and the theme park areas. This new proposal would bring theme park rides and guest areas closer to Walnut Street, and to these homeowners.

Concessions on construction heights, possible choices of indoor dark rides rather than outdoor roller coasters, and additional green spaces to help keep a buffer between the park-goers and the resort’s neighbors will need to be worked out before any new attractions will be greenlit and built.

Artist rendering of possible new parking destination on the east side of The Anaheim Resort

Additionally, local business owners may be opposed to how and where resort parking is placed in the future. New parking garages will need to be constructed to be able to add the new real estate to the resort for these theme park additions and a possible new entertainment district.

Local hotels that are currently positioned where their guests can easily walk to the theme park security checkpoints may not be keen on those checkpoints moving to the other side of the resort. Multiple resort entrances could be a possible compromise, but these types of details will need to be worked out.

So, DisneylandForward may have put forward some exciting prospects when it comes to the future of the theme parks in Anaheim, but we’re only now at the start of what could be a multiple year discussion before any big changes can be made.