2020 was not an especially kind year to the Disney corporation’s vaunted parks division. Although the company’s various multi-tentacled media operations have been buoyed up, to some extent, by the continued success of Disney+, there’s been no such fix for a global pandemic that made the very act of standing in line, angrily sweating on strangers—verily, the very bedrock of the Disneyland or Disney World experience—a potentially lethal move. Rising vaccination rates will probably help turn the company’s dismal numbers around this summer, but still: It’s going to take a lot to get the average consumer excited to make a return trip to Spit Mountain, after a year of looking at every other human being on the planet primarily as a vector for creeping death.
But, hey: What if you got to walk around in Wakanda? Would that make you want to come back, please?
Such is the presumed intended appeal of Disney’s new DisneylandForward initiative, an attempt to transform even more of Anaheim, California into the most magical quarantine zone on Earth. As reported by Entertainment Weekly, the company has launched a new site outlining its attempts to expand its California operations with hotels, retail establishments, and rides, all in a mind to getting Anaheim official to bite. Keeping in mind that this is all hypothetical, the site outlines a couple of pretty interesting ideas for themed areas for the new expansion, including those themed around Frozen’s Arendelle, and a Toy Story world that would presumably allow visitors to have their own adorable existential crises. What really caught people’s eye, though, was a section that seemed to imply a plan that was not on Disney’s list of potential locations, but which quickly generated quite a bit of buzz: A piece of the map that certainly looked like it was taken from Black Panther, in the form of the giant panther statue in Wakanda.
Now, this might have just been a placeholder—again, Wakanda isn’t on the list of park areas the company has said it’s interested in pursuing. But the company has been trying to leverage its Marvel properties for parks, with an “Avengers Campus” meant to debut in multiple locations last year, before the COVID shutdowns scotched the idea. And, if the whole ethos of a great Disney park experience is to create an otherwise fictitious world we wish we could spend hours or days in, it’d be hard to find a locale in the MCU more obviously suited to those tasks than Wakanda.
DisneylandForward is being described as a multi-year initiative on the company’s part; no word on when, if ever, that these physical facilities might actually be built.