It’s been a big month for announcements from Disney about the future of its theme parks in the United States.
Fans this month saw glimpses of possible future developments at Walt Disney World and Disneyland during the Destination D23 fan event in Florida and with the release of Anaheim’s Draft Subsequent Environmental Impact Report on the DisneylandForward proposal. But in each case, what fans saw were more suggestions of what might be rather than definite plans of what will be coming to the parks.
At Destination D23, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that Disney will open a new Country Bear show in Magic Kingdom next year and redesign EPCOT’s Test Track ride at some point in the near future. But those were minor reveals next to the big tease that Imagineers are working on plans to replace Dinoland USA in Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a new land themed to Central and South America.
That land would retheme Animal Kingdom’s Dinosaur ride to Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure, which shares the same track layout. Disney World also would add a new Encanto-themed ride to the land. But it’s all just a “blue sky” concept at this point, rather than a firm commitment.
We did not hear much about Disneyland Resort attractions at Destination D23, save for some new concept art of the ride vehicle for the long-promised new E-ticket ride in Avengers Campus. The Disneyland news came later, with the City of Anaheim’s draft report on the resort’s proposed expansion plans.
Disneyland wants city approval to allow the resort to build attractions on land now reserved for use as parking. Disney has released concept art depicting new attractions, hotels and retail on the sites of the current Toy Story and Simba parking lots, but has provided no specific details on what those new developments might be. The only specifics fans got from the city’s report were details of all the mitigation efforts that Disney would be required to provide to minimize the effects of noise, air pollution and visual intrusions upon neighbors, should the city grant approval for Disneyland’s plans.
The bigger news coming out of Disneyland this month is the opening of the new Disney Vacation Club tower at the Disneyland Hotel at the end of the month. I believe that Disney’s time-share business is driving the company’s recent enthusiasm for sharing “blue sky” plans as well as its desire to build more attractions in Anaheim. To entice people to commit to long-term DVC contracts, Disney needs to be able to offer not just new attractions in the next year or two, but the promise of a continuous stream of new attractions for years to come.
I understand Disneyland’s reluctance to get too specific about its expansion plans right now. Why risk the DisneylandForward debate becoming a referendum over specific attraction plans when it should instead be about the rules that will govern Disney’s planning of those attractions? But at some point, vague suggestions won’t be enough to drive the DVC sales and advance bookings that Disney needs.