For those of you who haven’t been keeping up or have not been there for some time now, Disney’s long established presence in Anaheim is comprised of an entertainment, dining and dining complex, three hotels and two theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure, now collectively known as the Disneyland Resort. For travel agents, what’s particularly interesting is that there are a number of new and exciting developments now occurring at the Disneyland Resort that you can promote to your clients for years to come.
The most widely anticipated event within the Disneyland Park will be the new Star Wars Land which is now in the process of being constructed. This new land is now being built to the area west of the Rivers of America and its construction has temporarily cut off the tracks for the Disneyland Railroad as well as the river path for the Mark Twain paddlewheel steam boat. But this is only a temporary inconvenience for diehard Disneyland fans as their patience will be rewarded once Star Wars Land is completed.
Based on preliminary information, the new Star Wars Land will feature two new rides: a Millennium Falcon ride as well as some sort of dark ride, currently referred to as Battle Escape on preliminary area diagrams. There will also be a number of Star Wars themed restaurants, fast-food eateries, shops as well as character meet and greet spots. This new area is supposedly large enough to accommodate future expansion of Star Wars Land, which is important to Disney now that it owns the rights to the Star Wars franchise. Disney will most assuredly be in the process of releasing more Star War film sequels and tying them in to new as well as to existing rides at their parks as was the case of recently renaming Space Mountain to a Star Wars themed Hyperspace Mountain at Disneyland.
While Disney has not committed itself to any hard and fast completion date, industry experts believe the new Star Wars Land will be completed sometime between 2018 and 2019. A new Star Wars Land is also in the process of being built in Walt Disney World in Florida at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park where the Streets of America attraction is currently located.
Another big announcement was just recently made at the July 2016 Comic-Com conference in San Diego. Marvel Studios, which was purchased by Disney in 2009, announced that a Guardians of the Galaxy ride will coming to the Disney California Adventure sometime in the summer of 2017. For those who are unfamiliar, Guardians of the Galaxy are superheroes based on the Marvel comics and the 2014 blockbuster movie of the same name.
The ride will be called Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout! Riders will join forces with Marvel superhero, Rocket Raccoon, as they navigate through a fortress in an effort try to free the other Guardians of the Galaxy heroes from their arch nemesis, Collector. Unfortunately for those who consider themselves Tower of Terror fans, this new ride will be taking over the structure that currently houses it.
Disney could be taking some risk in alienating some fans as is the case whenever changes are made to its park rides and attractions. But the risk could pay off over the long run especially as it relates to its acquisition of Marvel. A new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 movie is scheduled to be released in May 2017, just in time for the grand opening of this new ride at Disney California Adventure. One can be assured that the timing of the movie sequel and this new ride is not coincidental and makes the unveiling date of this new attraction at Disney California Adventure very important to Disney.
Plans for a new Disneyland Resort parking and drop-off lot has also been released. According to plans that have been submitted to Orange County, this massive seven-story facility is supposed to be built directly behind the hotels fronting Harbor Boulevard that face the Disneyland Resort to the west. Based on this plan, one of the hotels, the Carousel Inn & Suites, would be demolished to make way for a pedestrian walkway area, incorporating a bridge over Harbor Boulevard that would link the Disneyland Resort to this new parking and drop off facility.
Some Disney aficionados are speculating that, since this new parking and drop-off facility would replace the existing drop-off area within the Disneyland Resort that fronts Harbor Boulevard, it could make room for a new Marvel Land within an expanded Disney California Adventure. It could make sense as this new area would be adjacent to the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride and could help Disney in further capitalizing on its Marvel acquisition. We will be following developments in this area and report them to you as soon as we learn of them.
Last but not least, in June 2016, Disney announced plans to build a 700-room, luxury four-diamond rated hotel and a parking structure at the north end of the Downtown Disney parking lot. Supposedly, this new property would join the Disneyland Hotel and the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa as the only two properties in Anaheim that meet AAA’s strict guidelines for the luxury four-diamond rating for hotels. Average daily room rates are expected to be in the $450 range.
Disney has not yet decided on a design theme for this new hotel which would be developed by Walt Disney Imagineering. But it is known that the hotel would feature an upscale rooftop restaurant where diners would conveniently and strategically watch the nightly fireworks display in Disneyland. This could very well become the best spot in the Disneyland Resort to watch the spectacular nightly fireworks display. The hotel, which would be the first new hotel constructed at the Disneyland Resort in 20 years, would start in 2018 and be completed in 2021.