Disneyland clears major hurdle in $1.9B expansion plans

ANAHEIM, Cali. (KTLA) — The Anaheim City Council has given its preliminary approval of a measure allowing for a massive $1.9 billion expansion of Disneyland, known as DisneylandForward.

City council members voted 7-0 in favor of the proposal early Wednesday morning following an 8-hour public hearing.

It will face a final city council vote on May 7. Should the proposal be approved at that time, land use changes related to DisneylandForward won't be implemented until 30 days later.

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The DisneylandForward proposal is a 40-year agreement which would guide where and how future developments would occur, allowing for new attractions, shops, and restaurants to be built within areas of the resort that Disney already owns and operates.

Park attractions would be built alongside hotels on the west side of Disneyland Drive, along with buildings, shopping, dining and entertainment where the Toy Story Parking Area at Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard stands today.

An artist’s rendering released March 25, 2021, shows Disneyland Resort’s planned additions of attractions and shops around the resort’s Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. (Disney via Los Angeles Times)Conceptual artwork for Disneyland's expansion plans, dubbed Disneyland Forward. (Disney)

The company would also pay $40 million to buy Magic Way, Hotel Way and a part of Clementine Street from the city.

Magic Way serves drivers using the Pixar Pals Parking Structure and visiting the Disneyland Hotel. If Disney bought Magic Way, it would be transformed into a pedestrian walkway, a city spokesperson previously told Nexstar's KTLA.  

What exactly is DisneylandForward?

With Tuesday's approval, the city transferred "responsibility for Magic Way" over to Disney.

"The city is transferring responsibility for Magic Way because the road overwhelmingly serves the Disneyland Hotel, Disney employee parking, and the south end of the Pixar Pals Parking Structure," a news release from the city said.

During the public comment portion, some residents asked why the city had to rely on Disney to provide money for streets and infrastructure, while others proposed Disney donate more money to the city without the need to expand its theme park resort.

During their presentation, Disney representatives restated the company's commitment to spending at least $1.9 billion on the resort over the next decade.

The city specified in their proposed development agreement for DisneylandForward that the minimum investment would go toward theme park attractions, entertainment, lodging, shopping and dining.

Investments for parking, road improvements, and bridges would be separate.

The expansion plans could also benefit the city outside of the theme park resort since Disney has set aside millions of dollars for improvements to infrastructure, such as sewers and roads around the resort area.

The company also announced it‘s committed to spending $30 million for affordable housing, $8 million for city parks, and continuing workforce programs in Anaheim.

In his comments to the council, Disneyland Resort president Ken Potrock described DisneylandForward as the resort's "legacy project."

"We are ready to bring the next level of immersive entertainment to Anaheim," Potrock said during the meeting. "We are committed to starting right away."

As for the new experiences and attractions coming to the resort, no official plans have been announced, but some have been teased by the company, and fans have theories.

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Disneyland fans hope lands, rides and attractions based on “Tangled,” “Zootopia,” and “Tron,” and expanded areas based on “Peter Pan” and “Toy Story,” will be in the works.

Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro also talked last year about the possibility of bringing Frozen’s Arendelle, Black Panther’s Wakanda, and Coco’s Santa Cecilia to life in some capacity at the “Happiest Place on Earth” and potentially its sister park in Orlando.

During the meeting, Potrock spoke about the potential of bringing expanded experiences to Star Wars: Galaxy Edge, Avengers Campus, and Cars Land.

Aside from the proposal, an “Avatar”-themed experience is expected to come to the resort at some point in the future, based on comments from Disney CEO Bob Iger. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is also slated to open later this year at Disneyland.

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