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What’s next for DisneylandForward? What will Disneyland build first?

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After three years of planning and pitches, the DisneylandForward proposal is nearing the starting line of an ambitious four decade plan that could bring nine new themed lands to the Anaheim theme park resort based on Avatar, Frozen, Zootopia and other Disney, Pixar and Marvel films.

The Anaheim City Council gave unanimous preliminary approval to the DisneylandForward proposal on Wednesday, April 17 with a final approval expected on May 7. If approved, the plan would go into effect a month later in early June.

ALSO SEE: Disneyland is now a historic theme park district: What’s that mean for future projects?

What’s next after DisneylandForward gets the green light? What will Disneyland build first?

The answers to those and many other questions will likely be revealed during the D23 fan event on Aug. 9-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Walt Disney Imagineering has had three years to come up with ideas since DisneylandForward was first announced.

Disneyland has committed to spend $1.9 billion over the next decade as part of DisneylandForward and hopes to bring a big chunk of the $60 billion Disney has earmarked for theme park investment to Anaheim.

ALSO SEE: DisneylandForward proposal allows 300-foot-tall thematic icons

An Avatar themed land — first floated as a possibility in early 2023 — appears to be the top priority for Disneyland.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro and Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock have all tied a potential Avatar themed land to the approval of DisneylandForward in recent statements.

“We’ve all heard about the Avatar experience that’s at the top of the list for Disneyland Resort,” Potrock said during the Anaheim City Council meeting on Tuesday night. “But what we can do with this experience regarding the size and scope is inherently influenced by DisneylandForward.”

An Avatar land could be built today on the existing Disneyland and/or Disney California Adventure footprint without waiting for the DisneylandForward process to be completed.

The most likely location for a West Coast version of World of Pandora would be in DCA’s underused Hollywood Land studio backlot. A themed land based on the $2.3 billion box office blockbuster “Avatar: The Way of Water” could even push out into the esplanade between the two parks without creeping into DisneylandForward expansion space.

DisneylandForward has dangled eight additional themed lands based on Tangled, Frozen, Peter Pan, Zootopia, Toy Story, Black Panther, Coco and Tron as potential expansion projects in Anaheim.

Throughout the DisneylandForward process, the Frozen themed lands at Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disneysea have been the most often-mentioned possibility for Anaheim.

A carbon copy of one of the Frozen lands could easily fit in the parking lots surrounding the Disneyland Hotel and Pixar Place Hotel in the DisneylandForward Westside expansion area.

Arendelle village serves as the centerpiece of the World of Frozen themed land at Hong Kong Disneyland. (Courtesy of Disney)

DisneylandForward has framed the Westside theme park expansion area as extension space for Disneyland and DCA rather than a new “third gate.” The expansion areas would be linked by pedestrian bridges over Disneyland Drive — likely connecting near Disneyland’s Critter Country and DCA’s Paradise Gardens.

The likely model for any DisneylandForward expansion would be the new Fantasy Springs port debuting June 6 at Tokyo DisneySea. Fantasy Springs includes three themed lands — Frozen Kingdom, Rapunzel’s Forest and Peter Pan’s Never Land — in close proximity to each other.

The DisneylandForward Westside expansion area is roughly divided into two parts — a Disneyland extension north of the Disneyland Hotel and a DCA extension south of the Pixar Place Hotel.

Concept art of the Peter Pan themed area in the Fantasy Springs port coming to Tokyo DisneySea. (Courtesy of Disney)

It’s not hard for an armchair Imagineer to see a pair of Fantasy Springs-style expansions fitting into the DisneylandForward Westside expansion area — with three or four lands connecting to Disneyland and three more linking to DCA.

The dangled DisneylandForward projects fit neatly into the two locations.

The Disneyland extension could get the Disney princess lands (Frozen and Tangled) and the classic and modern Disney animation lands (Peter Pan and Zootopia). The DCA extension could get the Pixar lands (Coco and Toy Story) and the Marvel land (Black Panther).

Disneyland would likely build one land at a time every three to five years and slowly work their way from the parks to the hotels until the Westside expansion space was completely interconnected. That work could take two to three decades.

The outlier among the proposed DisneylandForward projects is Tron. A clone of the Lightcycle Run roller coaster at Shanghai Disneyland and Florida’s Magic Kingdom is thought to be the likely centerpiece of the long-anticipated Tomorrowland makeover.

Toss in an Eastside extension of Downtown Disney on the Toy Story parking lot, a 17,000-space Eastside parking garage and other infrastructure work and you’ve got another decade of construction. Together, all the work fits neatly into the DisneylandForward four decade plan that stretches to 2064.

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