A year after closing amid the pandemic, Disneyland plans to expand with new rides, restaurants, and entertainment

disneyland covid
Visitors take selfies in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle during the last day before Disneyland closes because of COVID-19 in Anaheim, California on March 13, 2020.

  • “DisneylandForward” is a multi-year planning effort that will lead to an expansion, a spokesperson told Insider.
  • The expansion might include themed lands based on Disney movies such as “Tangled” and “Peter Pan.”
  • Disney first needs to receive an updated development approval from the city of Anaheim to expand the resort.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Disney is planning to expand its California theme park with new rides, restaurants, and attractions – but to do that it says it needs the city of Anaheim to agree to redraft decades-old planning restrictions.

The multiyear expansion, called “DisneylandForward,” was revealed Thursday. The plan is light on details or timings, but could include themed elements based on hit Walt Disney movies like “Tangled,” “Frozen,” and “Peter Pan,” a Disney spokesperson told Insider.

Plans for expanding the 500-acre resort in Southern California come a year after Disneyland was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since the Disneyland Resort closed its park gates to guests,” said a website dedicated to the expansion. “We’ve taken this time to look forward,” the company said.

The naiscent plans could include new theme-park attractions, dining, and retail and hotel space, the company said. The expansion will be paid for privately and Disney will not seek any public funding, the Disneyland Forward website said. Disney also does not intend to request more square footage for hotel rooms.

Before the project can move forward, Anaheim city officials must agree to update planning restrictions from the 1990s meant to guide the growth of the Disneyland resort and surrounding businesses.

“With bold planning and leadership, Disneyland Resort could be poised to grow again, bringing jobs and new lands and adventures to Anaheim,” says a website dedicated to the project.

The city’s mayor had a warm response to the plan, Deadline reported. “I welcome fresh thinking about how the Disneyland Resort evolves and how we best maximize this resource for our city,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement to the news site.

Disney submitted the proposal to the Anaheim City Council on Thursday and the planning and approval process with the city and local community is expected to be completed by 2023, Disney spokesperson told Insider.

Disney said last week that it will reopen Disneyland Resort theme parks – Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park – on April 30 with limited capacity.

The reopening comes with a new theme-park-reservation system that requires visitors to reserve their spot prior to park entry. Reservations are limited because of state COVID-19 guidelines and only California residents may visit the parks for the time being.

Over 10,000 furloughed employees will be be called back to work with the park’s reopening, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

Disney World park has been open since July in Florida, where COVID-19 related restrictions are looser, but attendance was lower than expected compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to data published by Deutsche Bank in August.

The company struggled with the financial impact caused by the pandemic. Disney lost $2.4 billion in income in the fourth quarter of 2020 because of park closures.

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Disney Plus has started to roll out Star, an entertainment channel for adults. It’s also boosting prices in non-US markets.

Disney plus
  • Disney Plus subscription fees will increase by about 33% in non-US markets starting Tuesday.
  • Star will launch first in Europe, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, according to Disney.
  • Disney wants to hit 300 million to 350 million total streaming subscriptions by 2024.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Disney Plus began to launch Star, a new entertainment brand for adults, in non-US markets this week and is also increasing its subscription fees by about 33% in those regions, according to a Disney Plus Star factsheet

Star, the sixth tile in the Disney Plus app, first launched February 23 in Europe, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada and will roll out later in the year across Eastern Europe, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, according to a Disney Plus Star factsheet.

The company didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s question about whether the price increases in those markets was attributed to the added content via Star. 

In the UK, for example, existing and new subscribers will pay £7.99 ($11.15) per month or £79.90 ($111.50) annually.  That’s compared to the current monthly subscription fee of £5.99 ($8.36) monthly or £59.99 ($83.71) yearly.

Star will offer content that is updated weekly from Disney Television Studios, 20th Century Studios, and Touchstone, among others, Disney said. Star will also offer over 35 first-run series set to premiere by the end of 2021, and deliver around 50 local originals every year by 2024, the company said in the factsheet. 

The brand’s launch comes as streaming services, including Netflix, Prime, and Hulu, thrive as people continue to stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic. The combined number of US subscribers for the major streaming services increased more than 50% between December, 2019, and December, 2020, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis conducted with market research firms MoffettNathanson and Harris X. 

Disney didn’t reveal how many subscribers it expects to gain from Star, but it expects its streaming services to hit 300 million to 350 million total subscriptions by 2024, a company spokesperson told Insider.

The Disney Plus video streaming platform, launched in 2019, and has a subscriber base of 94.9 million as of January 2, according to the company.

Star will also come with a parental control app feature that allows users to set their content age rating that ranges from zero+ to 18+, according to the Disney+ website. It also allows them to add a password to the rated content as well as the app. 

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