Anaheim City Council Votes to Approve DisneylandForward

On Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council discussed the future of the DisneylandForward proposal. This began the culmination of three years of work on this proposal by the Disneyland Resort and the city of Anaheim. These three years haven’t just been spent developing the proposal but also sharing it with local government officials, citizens, and businesses. In March, Anaheim’s Planning Commission voted to move DisneylandForward to the City Council to be voted on after a meeting that ran late into the night.

The meeting began at around 5:00 PM with members of the public in attendance. First a presentation about DisneylandForward was given. This was toward the end of the meeting as it was at the end of the agenda. This was followed by a period for public comments. During this time there were statements for and against DisneylandForward. There were also cast members who came and spoke for the proposal. This included multiple departments and even former Disneyland Ambassadors. In all, there were around 100 people who shared their opinions.

Following the comments section of the night, the city council once again discussed some of the details of DisneylandForward, including the economic impact. Just before midnight, a motion was made to vote on DisneylandForward. Shortly after 1:00 AM DisneylandForward was unanimously approved. This was a preliminary approval. This will begin the process that will make this official with another vote next month. Thirty days after that this project will officially begin.

About DisneylandForward

DisneylandForward Map

DisneylandForward would allow the Disneyland Resort to update the way it uses land it already owns in and around the current Disneyland Resort theme parks. The proposal, if passed, will allow for theme park attractions alongside Disney hotels on the west side of Disneyland Drive. It would also provide for the potential of theme park attractions alongside new shopping, dining, and entertainment in the location that currently has the Toy Story Parking Lot. Concept art shows this location with a Disney Springs (Walt Disney World Resort) looking area.

The proposal would also call for additional and new parking both east and north of the current theme parks. Foot bridges across Harbor Boulevard and Disneyland Drive are also included in the proposal. Disney would also pay $49.8 million to take responsibility for Magic Way. This was extensively discussed during the Planning Commission meetings. It would also assume control of the entry drives into Disney parking at Clementine Street and Hotel Way. The payment would also go to remove planned extensions of both Clementine and Gene Autry Way.

The DisneylandForward proposal would not “request any new acreage, square footage or hotel rooms to be developed. Instead, it would shift already approved development amounts across land Disney owns.”

There would be some community benefits paid for by Disney if the proposal goes forward. This includes $30 million for affordable housing, $8 million for city parks, and $50 million for street and sewer improvements, along with some other benefits.

Avatar Experience - Concept Art - Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company
Avatar Experience – Concept Art – Courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

There are also some proposed zoning changes included in DisneylandForward that would allow for the Disneyland Resort to build new buildings with attractions like those seen around the world at other Disney parks. The new Disney Fantasy Springs expansion at Tokyo DisneySea was used as an example. This expansion will be opening at Tokyo Disney Resort in June. There also have been multiple discussions about an Avatar experience coming to the Disneyland Resort, with concept art released recently. It should be noted that these are simply examples and not promises for what will be coming. The passage of DisneylandForward would mean that individual projects and ideas could be explored and enter the development process. These projects would then be sent to the city to undergo planning reviews before moving forward.

Benefits of DisneylandForward

The city of Anaheim has shared that visitors currently account for over half the revenue the city uses to pay for police, fire libraries, community services, and also pay down city debt. This was shared in the context of the benefits of the Disneyland Resort and DisneylandForward. These benefits became very clear during the pandemic when tourism dried up and with it, the revenue that tourism brings.

In the final Planning Commission meeting, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock spoke saying how this “legacy project” would set the stage for a great future for both the Disneyland Resort and also Anaheim. Potrock also said how this is a “tremendous responsibility for all of us and a privilege to be a steward for this very special place.” He shared how DisneylandForward will continue Walt’s legacy. He also shared how guests want more interactive experiences and how that can come with DisneylandForward. “When Disney invests, everyone wins,” Potrock said. This project will be bringing in new revenue to the city to pay for things that help all over the city. The investments in the Disneyland Resort will lead to more tourists staying in the area for a longer time. It will also lead to more jobs and more benefits as well. This includes union jobs, Potrock said. He said that the there would also be a focus on hiring Anaheim residents and veterans. He shared that the future is bright for both the Disneyland Resort and the City of Anaheim which he shared was a “collaborative effort.” More information about DisneylandForward can be found at DisneylandForward.com.

After a first approval of DisneylandForward, a second vote must be taken a month later in the Anaheim City Council. Then the proposal will go into effect 30 days following a second positive vote.

What do you think of this development for DisneylandForward? What do you think should happen? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!