Disneyland Doesn’t Need Avatar, It Needs Something New

in Avatar, Disneyland Resort, Featured, Op-Ed, Theme Parks

Two characters from the movie "Avatar" are digitally added in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. They stand beside the "Partners" statue of Walt Disney holding hands with Mickey Mouse, blending something new with fantasy elements and the iconic theme park backdrop.

Credit: Inside the Magic

In 1923, Walter Elias Disney moved to Hollywood, California, with nothing more than a suitcase and a dream. That same year, Walt and his brother Roy opened their animation studio. Fourteen years later, the brothers would change the film industry with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) — the first feature-length animated film.

Then, in 1955, the Disney brothers changed the game again when they opened Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It was a theme park where adults and children could enjoy incredible rides and attractions together. Walt’s dream was brought to life, and it was just the start of everything Disney would become.

Walt Disney in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle
Credit: Walt Disney Archives

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Since its opening, Disneyland has greatly expanded. It is now made up of Disneyland Park, Disney California Adventure, and the Downtown Disney District.

And things are about to change even more. On May 7, the Anaheim City Council voted to approve DisneylandForward, a massive expansion project that would bring a third theme park to The Happiest Place on Earth.

Nighttime view of Disney Resort's futuristic building with vibrant neon signs and a curving waterslide, set against a dark, starry sky with dramatic lighting.
Credit: Disney

But will DisneylandForward bring everything to Disneyland that guests want? Or will it be full of lands that already exist, and that guests can visit by going to another Disney Resort?

DCA Expansion/DisneylandForward

On May 6, just one day before DisneylandForward was approved, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that a new Avatar experience would be coming to Disney California Adventure Park. And, while that is exciting, Disney already has a gorgeous area dedicated to the 2009 movie located in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Family in pandora at Disney's animal kingdom in walt disney world resort
Credit: Disney

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What would make Disneyland Resort truly exceptional is if new lands were created as part of the DisneylandForward expansion.

Disney officials have teased the possibility of lands themed after Frozen (2013), Zootopia (2016), and Toy Story (1995). They also said that TRON: Lightcycle/Run could even make its way to the West Coast. The problem? These also all exist at other parks.

Colorful, whimsical street in Shanghai Disneyland, styled like a cartoon with vibrant buildings, quirky sculptures, and playful architectural elements. Bright sky and empty path suggest a lively yet serene setting.
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

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Arendelle: The World of Frozen is located at the Hong Kong Disney Resort. Zootopia recently opened at the Shanghai Disney Resort, and Toy Story Land can be found in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And TRON: Lightcycle/Run, as most Disney fans know, can be found at Shanghai Disney and at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.

Guests ride TRON
Credit: Disney

Now, Disneyland does have its own unique areas, like Cars Land, Pixar Pier, and Mickey’s ToonTown, but that doesn’t mean it should stop there. Disney has so much IP, the possibilities are endless. Hit movies like Wish (2023), Mary Poppins (1964), and even Pixar films like Up (2009) or Coco could even be brought to life.

Walt’s dream was to always keep moving forward, and the only way Disney Imagineers can do that is by creating new and exciting lands that can’t be found anywhere else.

Kingdom of Rosas Disney's Wish 2023
Credit: Disney

Downtown Disney

Downtown Disney is currently undergoing a major renovation, with buildings being torn down and beautiful new areas being constructed. The plans for the major demolition actually began in 2017, when Disney announced that a new 5-star hotel would be coming to the area. To make way for the new hotel, Disney would be tearing down the ESPN Zone restaurant, the Rainforest Café, the AMC movie theater, and surrounding stores.

Guests walking around the old Downtown Disney area inside of Disneyland Resort in California
Credit: Disneyland Resort

The new hotel was supposed to open in 2021, but plans ultimately fell through just one year later. However, businesses had already closed, and some work had already begun. For years, ESPN mostly sat empty, while the Rainforest Café building was turned into the Star Wars Trading Post.

Finally, at the 2022 D23 Expo, Disney announced its major Downtown Disney renovation, which included new stores, restaurants, and a new performance stage. Since then, crews have been hard at work, and a lot of progress has been made. The performance stage is done, and three restaurants — Paseo, Centrico, and Tiendita — have opened.

A bowl of steamed mussels garnished with herbs, served with slices of bread on a wooden table, accompanied by glasses of water and a drink.
Credit: Patina Restaurant Group, Garcia Studio

Related: Guest Tackled Amid Chaos at Downtown Disney

While it’s exciting to see new things coming to Downtown Disney, we can’t help but with the area got the Disney Springs treatment. Disney Springs has so many incredible dining options that you can only find there, like Amorette’s Pâtisserie, Everglazed Donuts, Art Smith’s Homecomin’, and Wine Bar George.

Art Smith's Homecomin'
Credit: Disney

Disneyland guests, on the other hand, are getting more chains. Great Maple recently opened at Disney’s Pixar Place hotel. And, in Downtown Disney, popular Chinese restaurant Din Tai Fung will open later this year, and beloved bakery Porto’s will open at a later date.

All three of those restaurants, while delicious and top-notch, can be found all around Southern California. In fact, there is a Porto’s Bakery about 10 minutes away from Disneyland. It would be much more exciting if Downtown Disney was more like Disney Springs, giving guests options that you can’t get anywhere else.

Din Tai Fun coming to Downtown Disney Disneyland
Credit: Disney

We can only hope that with the passing of DisneylandForward, the Disneyland Resort will be full of unique offerings and so much more mouthwatering food!

Do you think Disney should get more original with its Disneyland Resort offerings? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect the views of Disney Dining as a whole.

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