Disneyland's $1.9B DisneyForward Plan Approved Despite Controversy

2 Min Read
Disneyland's $1.9B DisneyForward Plan Approved Despite Controversy
Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Photo Courtesy of Nathan M Rose/FlickDirect. All Rights Reserved.

Disney achieved a significant milestone today in its ambitious $1.9 billion Disneyland revamp plan set for the next decade, though not without its share of controversy. The Anaheim City Planning Commission voted 5-1 to greenlight the DisneyForward initiative, forwarding it to the full City Council for approval. This extensive project aims to transform Walt Disney's original theme park by introducing mixed-use amenities and attractions over the coming years.

Initially met with enthusiasm from union members, hoteliers, residents, Disneyland cast members, and Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock, the planning commission faced unexpected opposition during the lengthy meeting. Well-articulated concerns from some public commentators and Commissioner Luisandres Perez's inquiries extended the meeting to its sixth hour before the final vote was cast. Despite the hurdles, Disney remains hopeful that the project will undergo review by the Anaheim City Council and receive approval before the close of 2024.

DisneylandForward was first introduced in 2021, with additional project details revealed in 2023. A Disney-sponsored economic study estimated substantial job creation and economic output during construction and subsequent years. The project, if approved, is projected to generate significant economic benefits, including job creation, tax revenue, and economic output.

Disney's plan envisions extensive development lasting until 2064, with an estimated total expenditure of $2.5 billion upon completion. The proposed expansion has faced scrutiny for its potential environmental impact, particularly concerning air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise. Public meetings have been conducted to address these concerns and gather community input.

Central to Disney's proposal is a request to relax zoning restrictions established in Anaheim's 1994 "Resort Specific Plan." The DisneylandForward website contends that the current zoning limits Disney's ability to create the immersive, integrated experiences that modern theme park visitors desire. In exchange for zoning concessions, Disney commits to financial contributions, including $30 million for affordable housing, $8 million for parks, and $35 million for nearby road improvements.

The development aims to provide more flexibility for Disney within its existing properties, envisioning new lands and adventures inspired by successful projects in Tokyo DisneySea and Shanghai Disneyland. While specific attractions, such as Frozen land and the Tangled and Peter Pan attractions, are mentioned as examples, Disney has not made official commitments. Ken Potrock emphasized the company's goal to build integrated experiences, citing successful projects like Zootopia in Shanghai, Frozen in Hong Kong Disneyland, and Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Anaheim. Conceptual renderings suggest major developments to the west and southeast of the current parks, repurposing largely parking-dedicated areas.


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