DisneylandForward Approved

Anaheim City Council Votes to Approve DisneylandForward Proposal

The Anaheim City Council voted tonight to confirm the DisneylandForward proposal. This is the culmination of three years of work by the city and the Disneyland Resort. 13 people came forward for public comment before the vote. One of these speakers that spoke was Disneyland President Ken Potrock. He thanked the council for their unanimous vote last month. “We ask once again for your support in tonight’s final step to approve DisneylandForward.” Potrock continued and shared how proud they were of the support. He also said that supporters were asked to attend the meeting rather than speak at it to expedite the process, noting that there was over 7 hours of testimony at the last meeting. “Thank you for partnering with us on this legacy project that will positively impact generations to come. And now with your historic vote, we’ll get to work on these integrated and immersive experiences that only Disney can create.” He concluded by saying “here’s to making DisneylandForward a reality together.” After several more speakers, the vote was finally taken. The vote was unanimous and included as part of a consent vote. After the vote, many in attendance could be heard cheering before departing the meeting as it continued with other business.

Shortly after the vote, Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock took to social media saying, “The Anaheim City Council has given the final green light to #DisneylandForward, voting to approve our impactful legacy project! This historic decision sets the stage for decades of growth through a collaborative partnership between the @city_of_anaheim and @Disneyland. Together, we’re shaping an incredibly bright future for our community, and we can’t wait to show you what’s to come…”

The vote tonight comes after preliminary approval was given during a vote at last month’s City Council meeting. The meeting that led up to that vote included over three and a half hours of public comment that included 84 speakers. Following the public comments, the vote by the Anaheim City Council with all seven votes in favor of the plan. The positive vote tonight will now begin a process that sees DisneylandForward go into effect in 30 days.

DisneylandForward will enable the Disneyland Resort to develop land it already owns and create new theme park lands and attractions in the coming years. It also could lead to new pedestrian bridges over Harbor Blvd. and Disneyland Drive along with expanded parking east and new parking northeast of the theme parks. Specifically, the plan calls for the allowance of theme park attractions alongside hotels on the west side of Disneyland Drive and theme park attractions alongside new shopping, dining and entertainment to the southeast on what is today the Toy Story Parking Lot.

At this point, the Disneyland Resort has not shared any specific details or plans about what the plan will lead to. However, it has been shared that an Avatar experience will be coming after the approval of DisneylandForward. During an earnings call earlier in the day, Disney CEO Bob Iger said about DisneylandForward, “We’re incredibly excited for the many potential new stories our guests could experience at Walt’s original theme park, including the much-anticipated opportunity to bring Avatar to Disneyland.” Where exactly this will be located at the resort, what it will include, and when it will arrive have not been shared yet. Beyond stating that it could be coming, the only thing that has been shared is concept art.

Avatar Experience - Concept Art
Avatar Experience – Concept Art

With the approval of DisneylandForward, Disney is now required to invest a minimum of $1.9 billion in theme park, lodging, entertainment, shopping and dining within 10 years. The development agreement also requires Disney to do the following:

  • $30 million for affordable housing in Anaheim, with $15 million in the first year and $15 million in five years
  • $10 million: for sewer improvements along Katella Avenue
  • $8 million for Anaheim parks within the first year

The agreement will also see Disney paying $39.6 million to take on responsibility for Magic Way and for two entry drives into Disney parking at Hotel Way and at Clementine Street. Magic Way is going to Disney as it predominantly serves the Disneyland Hotel, Disney employee parking and also the Pixar Pals Parking Structure. Magic Way will continue to offer access to the hotel and parking lots. However, it will no longer be accessible from Walnut to help limit traffic in the residential area on that side of the Disneyland Resort. Anaheim is working on improving turn lanes at nearby Walnut and Ball Road to help create an alternative to those who would turn on Magic Way from Walnut.

According to the City of Anaheim, the city could bing in $15 million to $244 million in additional yearly revenue because of DisneylandForward. With visitors accounting for over half of the annual revenue that Anaheim utilizes for police, fire, libraries, community services and also to pay down city debt. It was for these reasons that the City Council said that they approved the proposal.

The approval of DisneylandForward will open up many new possibilities for the Disneyland Resort in the coming decades. In the coming months, expect Disney to begin to reveal some of the plans it has for the resort. This could include announcements about something as simple as a new parking lot/pedestrian bridge or as extravagant as a new land or shopping, entertaining, and dining district. With D23: The Ultimate Disney Fan event happening this summer, it would come as no surprise if announcements were made then.