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  • The Hornet and Inside Fullerton are on summer break and will return on August 26, 2024. Please send any tips or inquiries to Jessica Langlois at [email protected].

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Disneyland: A legacy of change and innovation

Disneyland, the Anaheim-based beloved theme park, is reopening, and with that reopening comes a lot of change due to the pandemic.

The resort closed due to the spread of COVID-19 last March, and since January of this year, the grounds have been used as a vaccination site. The park will be open under new restrictions, including but not limited to guests being required to wear masks and to practice social distancing at all times. For the time being, only California residents will be granted entry, all while operating at a limited capacity. Since Disneyland is not currently permitted to allow indoor dining, Disney is relying on its mobile ordering system via the Disneyland App.

It’s no doubt that the experience for Disneyland fans will be different than prior to the pandemic, but this is not the first time that the Anaheim theme park has gone through periods of major change. Here is a brief history of significant moments of change throughout the lifespan of the Disneyland Resort.

Take the first addition to Disneyland: New Orleans Square. This was the first land to ever be added to the park, opening on July 24, 1966. This was a significant day in Disney history not just because it was the first time a land was added to Disneyland, but it was also the last time Walt Disney had a major public appearance at the park before his death in December of that same year.

Decades of changes and attraction additions later, Disney aimed high, wanting more than just additions to their existing park. In February of 2001, on what used to be a Disneyland parking lot, a second theme park was built. Disney’s California Adventure (DCA), a park celebrating the history and culture of California, opened next to Disneyland.

At first, the park was heavily criticized for lacking the theming and quality of a Disney park. The new park also didn’t have a lot of nighttime entertainment, so most guests would return to Disneyland for the nightly firework shows. Combined with the overall lack of things to do in DCA, this park was dubbed a “half-day park.”

This changed over the next decade with the introduction of more nighttime attractions, such as “The Wonderful World of Color,” and also the reintroduction of Disney’s classic “Main Street Electrical Parade.”

But it wasn’t until 2012 that DCA would start to find its own identity. Twelve acres of land were added to California Adventure, introducing Cars Land, based on the wildly successful Pixar film Cars. With a budget of $1.1 billion, it is to date the costliest addition to the park. This was the company’s first attempt to make an all-immersive land in DCA, and it allowed Imagineers (the engineers who dream up, design, and create Disney experiences at the parks, cruise lines, and resorts) to really transport guests to Carburetor Canyon. This was a massive success and gave people a big reason to stay in DCA.

But, Disneyland wasn’t about to be outshined by DCA. In 2019, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened. This replaced an old unpopular area near Frontierland that had a petting zoo and a restaurant. The new land introduced immersive attractions with cutting edge technology, personalized experiences such as building a custom droid or lightsaber, and the idea of having everything—cast members, shops, dining—act like you really are in Star Wars. The cast members never break character, and this new concept coupled with the launch of one of Disney’s most critically acclaimed attractions—Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance—lead to Galaxy’s Edge becoming the industry leader in real-world storytelling in theme parks.

Back to DCA, Avengers Campus was set to open during July of 2020, as an effort by the Walt Disney Company to create what they called in their announcement “an Immersive Super Hero Universe.” This was delayed due to the pandemic, and Avengers Campus will host its grand opening later in 2021, promising Marvel thrills and more of Imagineer’s creative experiences designed to make you forget you are in a theme park.

Looking to the future, a brand new project titled Disneyland Forward was announced in March. This massive expansion will add to both the west and east ends of the resort, promising new attractions, dining, shopping, entertainment, and hotels. The Disneyland Resort appears as if it will be expanding for the foreseeable future. Walt Disney knew that the parks would face periods of growth, challenge and change, as he himself is quoted as saying: “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.”