As Universal Dramatically Expands, CEO Bob Iger Reveals Game-Changer For
The Disney Parks empire is an ever-growing, evershifting theme park behemoth spread across the world. The castles across the globe represent a legacy and history so large that it’s hard to imagine more Disney Parks being made. For now, a seventh Disney Resort is not on the cards, at least in the known public sphere, but experiences and attractions are revealed year after year. Yet, a statement made by Disney CEO Bob Iger may have just revealed a big game-changer for the theme park division.
The last Disney Park to open was Shanghai Disney Resort. The Chinese theme park joined Walt Disney World Resort (Orlando, Central Florida), Disneyland Resort (Anaheim, Southern California), Disneyland Paris (Chessy, France), Tokyo Disney Resort (Urayasu, Japan), and Hong Kong Disneyland (Lantau, Island) in 2016 under the rule of former (and current) CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger.
In addition to the current expansions such as the huge $2 million investment in Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris, and the Frozen-themed addition in Hong Kong, and upcoming attractions like TRON Lightcycle / Run in Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World, Disney Parks has a stream of other plans, ideas, and “blue sky” thinking.
Over at Disney World, the “blue sky” thinking was laid out at D23 Expo’s Boundless Future Parks and Experiences panel hosted by Parks chairperson Josh D’Amaro last September. There, D’Amaro revealed that work had begun on concepts for new expansions at both Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom; the former could see a Coco (2017), Encanto (2021), and Villains-themed addition in the Beyond Big Thunder Mountain area, while the latter is rumored to gain lands themed to both Moana (2016) and Zootopia (2016).
While a lot is changing around the world, Disney fans — especially those diehard fans of Walt’s original playground — often question why Disneyland is seemingly left out of any big changes, the last, arguably, being the addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland Park. It was recently announced by Bob Iger on his first Quarterly Earnings Call since replacing the ousted Bob Chapek that Disneyland would be gaining an Avatar-themed experience that was later said to be on par with the Pandora offering found in Disney World.
But what of the proposed DisneylandForward initiative? The plan, which came into knowledge in 2021, sees Disney and the City of Anaheim collaborate on adapting the current zoning rules so Disney can construct more space for its Parks. D’Amaro said he was “very excited about the prospects of what DisneylandForward can mean for the Disneyland Resort – more opportunities to tell more amazing stories, etc.” But, as of yet, no formal plans have been established between Disney and the City.
Credit: Screenshot via DisneylandForward website
However, that could all change soon after a recent statement by Iger hinted at a game-changing move for Disney Parks. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, Iger said (via CinemaBlend):
Certainly in Florida, we have a lot of property. We have a lot of opportunity outside the United States. We actually have more opportunity in California than people are aware.
It is not immediately clear if Iger is referring to DisneylandForward, but as the general fandom already knows about the opportunities DisneylandForward offers, this comment could be about something completely different, and that is where it gets exciting.
In the last couple of months, Universal Parks & Resorts announced major expansions to its United States offering. Doing away with the East and West Coast model, Universal announced an all-new theme park concept coming to Frisco, Texas, and an all-year-round horror experience coming to Las Vegas, Nevada; it is likely to be akin to Universal’s wildly popular Halloween Horror Nights which happens annually at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in the U.S.
Universal may feel like it is pulling away from Disney, especially when looking at some past attendance numbers, but Iger’s comments here may signal a Michael Eisner-like push for theme park domination.
Disneyland Resort is currently the beacon of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebrations. The Disney100 event includes all-new shows like Wondrous Journeys at Sleeping Beauty Castle and World of Color — One in Disney California Adventure Park.
Do you think big things are coming to Disneyland Resort? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!