Why Disneyland Benefits from its Lack of Space

Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway Concept Art Disneyland

Walt Disney wanted to build Disney World because he realized he made a crucial mistake with Disneyland. He bought too little land for the ideas that he had. This was the so-called benefit of space that Walt Disney World had. Yet recently it doesn't seem like it is much of a benefit. Recent additions like Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge required massive lands and attractions to be removed from Disney World, yet the same land at Disneyland cost nothing except a petting zoo and performance space that had gone unused for decades.

That is why the so-called benefit of space isn't actually a benefit.

Disney World has massive amounts of abandoned attractions. Just look at what happened to Buzzy, or several other attractions that have just been left abandoned for years across Walt Disney World. Disney World hasn't had a major new addition that didn't require something to be removed since Expedition Everest. Sure that's changing now with additions like Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and the Tron Roller Coaster, but that's still a long time without an entirely new ride.

Disneyland, on the other hand, has managed to add three new E-Ticket attractions to an over 60-year-old park in the middle of a city, at the cost of only minor things like shops and petting zoos. In fact, attractions that were impacted by expansions like the Disneyland Railroad got upgraded scenes along the way.

So why is this the case? Why did Disney's Hollywood Studios lose Streets of America, Lights Motors Actions, the Backlot Tour, and more for Galaxy's Edge when it supposedly has the benefit of space, while the spacially limited, by Walt's own admission, Disneyland only lost a petting zoo and a small section of Rivers of America?

The answer I believe is that Disneyland has to maximize all of its available space because it has so little left. The Disneyland Resort is still increasing in attendance on a yearly basis, but it can't expand, so it has to fit as many people into its limited land as possible.

Disney World has massive amounts of space and that is its downfall. They don't need to worry about adding a new ride to Epcot, because if crowds increase, the park will absorb them without new attractions. Sure the lines will get longer, but there's still enough room for everyone. That's why new rides usually replace preexisting ones at Disney World because it's cheaper not to add new rides that you have to pay to operate.

At Disneyland, new rides are an absolute necessity. As attendance increases, the resort needs to add new attractions just to increase its own capacity. Every space needs to be used to fit as many people as possible.

Just look at more modern additions and how they are built to perfectly fit in with their preexisting surroundings. At Disneyland adding without taking is the ultimate goal for new attractions. At Disney World, the goal is just having something new to advertise to increase attendance. This is how older attractions like Mr. Toads Wild Ride survive at Disneyland, they couldn't be replaced by anything that would fit more people.

We'll end this article by describing one attraction that perfectly explains why Disneyland benefits from its lack of space: Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway.

In Disney World, a high capacity half-hour-long ride was lost for what is rumored to be a medium at best capacity 5-minute ride taking up the same massive building. The Great Movie Ride was beginning to be a bit outdated, but it was still popular and took a lot of people off the streets of the park each hour. This happened in a park with several empty or underutilized places that it could have easily gone instead, like the old Animation building, or on one of the multiple expansion pads along Sunset Boulevard. And those are just the ones that don't involve removing or altering currently operating attractions.

But instead, we lost an opening day attraction for a much shorter one.

Then let us look at how the same attraction is coming to Disneyland. The Toontown hills came down to make way for the ride. A backstage entertainment building is being relocated. A gift shop is going to close to make room for the entrance of the ride.

That's it.

Disneyland will be adding a new E-Ticket almost 70 years after opening with the only noticeable losses to guests being a gift shop and some theming that will likely be replaced once the new building is complete. Meanwhile, at Disney World, a park that is barely 30 years old had to remove its flagship attraction to make way for one new attraction.

Disneyland needs more space more than it needs new attractions, which means, in the end, the park gets more attractions without losing any in return.

Now that's not always true, as developments like Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout and Pixar Pier have taught us, but those are exceptions to the general rule, just like Tron is an exception to Disney World's status quo. Only one ride-through attraction in Disney California Adventure has closed since opening.