Skip to content

DisneylandForward explores a theme park expansion in California

March 26, 2021
5 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

It may have been a full year since Disneyland was last open to the public, but the theme park wasn't taking a Sleepy-style nap during that time. Instead, it was working on plans to hopefully expand its offerings in the Anaheim, California, area as part of its DisneylandForward theme park expansion announced yesterday.

For plans to move forward, however, planning restrictions in Anaheim would need to be updated, which is Disney's goal in unveiling this plan to the public.

Until then, here’s what we know.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

What is DisneylandForward?

Rendering shows Westside footprint of Disneyland Resort with possible immersive experiences that could include theme park, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment (Image courtesy of Disney.)

"Disneyland will never be completed," Walt Disney famously said. "It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world."

To continue Disney's dream, expansion needs to happen, though it's been surprisingly difficult to achieve.

In the 1990s, the city of Anaheim approved specific plans that would guide the growth of the Disneyland Resort and businesses in the newly formed Anaheim Resort area. Those plans resulted in major improvements to the entire area -- including the addition of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa and Downtown Disney as well as the nearby Anaheim Convention Center.

But the existing "zone" approach is severely limiting Disney’s ability to continue developing new technology and experiences, according to the DisneylandForward website.

Without updates, Disney says, the new experiences that have been rolled out in other Disney theme parks around the world will never be able to come to the California park. As a result, DisneylandForward was created. This multiyear public planning effort with the city hopes 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" according to Disney.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Creating space for DisneylandForward

(Illustrative map courtesy of Disney.)

If you're familiar with both Disneyland as well as Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, you know their footprints are vastly different.

In fact, the reason the sprawling four-park Walt Disney World came to fruition in what was then the undeveloped swamps of Central Florida was to give the Disney brothers, Walt and Roy, plenty of space for the expansion that was lacking in Anaheim, a location with finite borders.

To be clear, we don't know exactly what's coming — but how could Disney fit new rides, attractions, restaurants and perhaps even a hotel into the existing area?

The "Immersive Theme Park" west-side expansion envisions a theme park on the Downtown Disney and Lilo and Stitch parking lots woven amid the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel, according to the Orange County Register. By looking at the plans available on the website, the current parking lots would be reconfigured and Disney would build "a new parking destination on the east side of The Anaheim Resort, which would include a pedestrian bridge," according to the website. The Disneyland Resort footprint, however, would not change.

What Would Be Added — and when?

What wouldn't be added seems like the true question to ask when you look at some of the suggestions on the DisneylandForward website.

For Disneyland, highly themed "Frozen," "Tangled" and "Peter Pan" lands (all of which are coming to the Tokyo DisneySea park) all seem to be real possibilities.

And California Adventure Park would see the addition of "technologically advanced, immersive and cutting-edge entertainment" including "Zootopia" (a version of which is currently under construction at Shanghai Disneyland); a "Toy Story" land like the one at Hollywood Studios in Florida; and a "Tron" Lightcycle Run roller coaster, which is already a popular attraction in Shanghai and is being built at the Magic Kingdom as well.

The site also calls out a possible "Immersive Theme Park" as well as a "A New Kind of Disney Entertainment" both of which may include new hotels, restaurants, retail and entertainment options.

Related: What it was like the day Disney World reopened

Unfortunately, there's no timeline available right now (Disney only says it's a multiyear planning effort), but talks are moving forward with the city of Anaheim while Disneyland continues to prepare to open to the public at the end of April. In addition, the Avenger's Campus is slated to open at the end of 2021, and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railroad is slated for a 2023 premiere.

One thing that's clear though: Disney is thinking big with its DisneylandForward future expansion website. Now, only time will tell if Anaheim will allow future expansion to happen — and what shape that will take if it finally gets the green light.

Featured image by A new kind of Disney entertainment destination that could include theme park, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment experiences. Courtesy of Disney
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more