As Universal Expands Dramatically, CEO Bob Iger Unveils Game-Changers for Disney Parks

The Disney Parks empire is an ever-growing, ever-changing theme park behemoth that spans the globe. Castles around the world represent a legacy and history so vast it’s hard to imagine more Disney Parks being built. A seventh Disney resort is not in sight for the time being, at least to the known public, but experiences and attractions are revealed year after year. But a statement from Disney CEO Bob Iger may have just revealed a major turning point for the theme park division.

Photo credit: Disney

The last Disney Park to open was the Shanghai Disney Resort. 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, Iceland) in 2016 under the rule of former (and current) CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger.

In addition to recent expansions such as the huge $2 million investment in Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris and the Frozen-Hong Kong themed addition and upcoming attractions like TRON Lightcycle/Run at Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World, Disney Parks has a torrent of other plans, ideas and “Blue Sky” thinking.

Disney World IP expansion including Coco, Encanto and Villains Land
Photo credit: Disney

Over at Disney World, the “blue sky” thinking was laid out at D23 Expo as part of the Boundless Future Parks and Experiences panel hosted by parks chairman Josh D’Amaro last September. There, D’Amaro revealed that work had begun on concepts for new expansions for both Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom; The former could see a coconut (2017), Encanto (2021) and Villains-themed addition in the Beyond Big Thunder Mountain area, while the latter is rumored to gain lands themed for both Moiana (2016) and Zootopia (2016).

As much changes happens around the world, Disney fans — especially die-hard fans of Walt’s original playground — often wonder why Disneyland seems to be left out of big changes, the latest of which is arguably the addition of war of stars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park. It was recently announced by Bob Iger at his first quarterly earnings call since replacing the ousted Bob Chapek that Disneyland would win one avatar-Themed experience that was later said to rival the Pandora offering at Disney World.

Pandora World of Avatar in the animal kingdom
Photo credit: Disney

See Also: Disney Issues Statement on TRON Lightcycle Fiasco at Magic Kingdom

But what about the proposed DisneylandForward initiative? The plan, which became known in 2021, has Disney and the city of Anaheim working together to adjust current zoning rules to allow Disney to make more space for its parks. D’Amaro said he is “very excited about the prospects of what DisneylandForward can mean for Disneyland Resort — more opportunities, even more amazing storytelling, etc.” However, no formal plans have yet been set between Disney and the city.

DisneylandForward card
Photo Credit: Screenshot via DisneylandForward website

That could soon change, however, after a recent statement from Iger hinted at a game-changing move for Disney Parks. At the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, Iger said (via CinemaBlend):

Certainly we have a lot of property in Florida. We have many opportunities outside of the United States. We actually have more opportunities in California than people know.

It’s not immediately clear if Iger is referring to DisneylandForward, but since general fandom is already aware of the opportunities DisneylandForward offers, this comment could be about something else entirely, and that’s where it gets interesting.

Bob Iger (left) and Bob Chapek (right) at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Photo credit: Disney

In recent months, Universal Parks & Resorts announced significant expansions to its offerings in the United States. Universal has ditched the East and West Coast model and announced an all-new theme park concept for Frisco, Texas and a year-round horror experience for Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s probably similar to Universal’s hugely popular Halloween Horror Nights, held annually at both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood in the US

Universal may feel like it’s pulling away from Disney, especially when you look at some past attendance numbers, but Iger’s comments here may signal a Michael Eisner-esque push for theme park dominance.

Projections of Wondrous Journeys in the Sleeping Beauty Castle
Photo credit: Disney

Also see: Disney under fire for the latest park expansion updates

Disneyland Resort is currently the beacon of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebrations. The Disney100 event includes brand new shows such as Wondrous Journeys at Sleeping Beauty Castle and World of Color – One at Disney California Adventure Park.

Do you think big things are coming to Disneyland Resort? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *