Anaheim City Council Hosts DisneylandForward Workshop as Disneyland Commits More Than $2 Billion For Project If Approved

The Anaheim City Council held a workshop regarding the proposed DisneylandForward project at the Disneyland Resort.

During the meeting, maps were shown of the location of the DisneylandForward project. An additional 4,376 parking spaces will be added to the Resort. No public funding is expected to be used. The presentation also covered the shift of zoning districts with the Disneyland Resort to meet evolving guest expectations for entertainment and theme park experiences.

According to the Orange County Register, the Disneyland development agreement would commit the Company to invest $1.9 billion into the Resort. The new agreement would give Disney flexibility to choose where it builds new theme park areas, hotels, and dining within its existing footprint, and in return would guarantee the city continued investment into the resort, along with $30 million for affordable housing and $8 million for the Parks.

“We listened to Anaheim’s leaders and worked hard to address what is important for the city,” said Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock in a statement. “We are proud that DisneylandForward will provide many important benefits directly to the residents of Anaheim.”

DisneylandForward Concept Art

DisneylandForward could be one of the largest developments for Anaheim, city officials said. The presentation on Tuesday was a broad overview of its details, but the final document is still set to be released. There are no details on what Disney might build within its allowed allotments.

The Anaheim City Council is expected to vote on the DisneylandForward project by spring. Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster said the city’s Planning Department has been the lead in negotiating the agreement for the past few months. Lyster described Anaheim as a largely visitor economy. More than 25 million people visit Anaheim each year, driven largely by the Disneyland Resort. The city expects to take in more than $230 million this year from the local hotel taxes visitors pay.

DisneylandForward Map

In its proposal, Disney hopes to buy some streets from the city for around $40 million, including Magic Way, Hotel Way, and part of Clementine Street. City officials say that the offer is market rate. Should Disney not invest even more than the minimum $1.9 billion – at least $2.5 billion over 10 years – then the Company would give the city an additional $5 million for street and transportation improvements.

The City of Anaheim would no longer have to pay to maintain the streets, Lyster said, but added that it’s too early to say if the streets would serve a purpose other than to get cars to parking spaces the streets serve.

The $40 million to buy the streets will be part of a $90 million investment Disney proposed to contribute toward fund street improvements, including widening Katella Avenue east and west of Harbor Boulevard. The city would decide how those streets are redesigned, which could include signal upgrades and bike lanes. Anaheim would not proceed with previously planned extensions of Clementine Street and Gene Autry Way.

Up to $10 million to expand a sewer main line along Katella Avenue near the parks would be paid for by Disney, according to the city.

A new 17,000-space parking garage and five pedestrian bridges, three over Harbor Boulevard and two over Disneyland Drive, could be built as part of the resort’s new development.

The minimum $1.9 billion investment by Disney would have to be for visitor attractions such as new theme park areas and hotels, per the proposal, and wouldn’t count spending on parking or infrastructure.

The city’s Planning Commission is expected to hold another workshop on DisneylandForward next month, which will include an overview of the development agreement. The City Council is expected to hold additional hearings on the DisneylandForward project in April and May.

In addition to the updates presented at Tuesday’s meeting, there was a 17,000 page Environmental Impact Report released last fall. The biggest impacts were air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise pollution. However, transportation and neighborhood aesthetics were not expected to be impacted.

Here are the upcoming dates that will be a part of the DisneylandForward process this spring:

  • Jan. 23, 2024: City Council workshop with proposed development agreement overview
  • February 2024: Planning Commission workshop & development agreement overview
  • March 2024: Planning Commission hearing for DisneylandForward
  • April, May 2024: City Council hearings for DisneylandForward

One significant area of impact for the construction and operation of any DisneylandForward project would be that of air quality. When the last master plan for the Disneyland Resort District was approved, greenhouse gas effects were not studied. Because of this, these results are viewed as significant. However, Disney is already working to mitigate the impact it has on greenhouse gases. Compared to the 1990s, Disney has worked to reduce the number of vehicle miles that are traveled through employee carpool programs, shuttle services, telecommuting, and public transit. Other mitigation efforts that the DisneylandForward Environmental Impact Reports focus on are energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and sustainability measures that are already in practice at the Disneyland Resort.

There was also a great deal of attention focused on the potential for noise pollution during construction and during the operation of the parks’ expansion. 12-foot-tall noise barriers erected around the outside property lines of the park expansion. Fireworks would also not be allowed in the proposed expansion areas. A graphic showed a tentative plan for the western part of the expansion plans regarding the noise impact. This included a study of where noise would have the highest impact and also how Disney would mitigate the noise pollution. The graphic showed a general idea of where attractions could go and what type of attraction would be there.

For this all to go forward, the Anaheim City Council would need to approve the Environmental Impact Report, the Development Agreement, and also update the zoning for areas that are part of the plans. If everything goes well, things could be approved sometime this spring.

There are a lot of plans with details that could be recognized as possible attractions from Disney theme parks around the world. However, none of these attractions have been set in stone yet. These decisions and announcements will come at a later date if this project continues to move forward. Disney has previously used attractions and lands from its other theme parks around the world that include six possibilities including Frozen, Tangled, Peter Pan, Zootopia, Toy Story, and Tron.

What do you think of what you are seeing in this new update? Does anything stand out to you? What are you most looking forward to or hoping for with the DisneylandForward project? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!


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