Disneyland’s Major Expansion Plan in Anaheim Moves Forward

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The proposal calls for a mix of attractions, hotels, retail venues, and more on the eastern and western sides of the resort, within the current footprint.

The Disney theme park in Anaheim is one step closer to breaking ground on a multi-billion-dollar expansion after a city planning commission approved the plans March 11.

Anaheim’s Planning Commission voted 5–1, with one member absent, to approve the so-called DisneylandForward proposal after two hours of public comment from local residents.

“I want to thank each and every person who came tonight to speak their minds, whether you agreed, disagreed or were neutral,” Commission Chair Lucille Kring said at the meeting.

Commissioner LuisAndres Perez, the sole dissenter, called for a postponement of the vote to allow residents more time to comprehend all the proposed changes, as reported by the Orange County Register.

The proposal entails integrating a mix of theme park attractions, hotels, retail venues, and dining establishments on the eastern and western sides of the resort within its current footprint. Disney has committed to investing at least $1.9 billion for the expansion over the next decade.

The project was introduced in September 2021, following the theme park’s yearlong closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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According to Disney officials, the company is seeking greater flexibility from Anaheim concerning land use plans initially approved in the 1990s. If ultimately approved by the Anaheim City Council, it will develop the expansion on a 50-acre parking lot.

Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock addressed the commission, emphasizing the potential of the expansion to generate thousands of jobs for the city.

“When Disney invests, everyone wins,” he said.

Mr. Potrock also discussed the potential of the project, including attractions inspired by other Disney theme park developments worldwide, including those based on Disney movies like “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “Peter Pan.” He also mentioned the forthcoming Zootopia ride at Shanghai Disneyland in China, Tron roller coasters in Shanghai and Florida, and Toy Story Land, also in Florida.

Numerous residents and Disneyland enthusiasts turned up at the meeting to share their thoughts on the proposal.

John Noteboom, an Anaheim resident for 27 years living on the western fringe of Disneyland Resort with his wife, expressed support.

“As some of the closest neighbors to the proposed theme park district of Disneyland on the west side of the park, we’ve had nothing but cooperation from Disney anytime an issue has come up,” he told commissioners.

Margaret Patino, a longtime resident also living near Disneyland, however, expressed concern about the plan’s privatization of Magic Way, a street near the resort which is currently open to the public.

“Restricting the foot traffic on Magic Way for only Disney guests who will have their keycards is unfair,” she said. “Neighboring hotels, motels will not have access, leaving the surrounding residents to deal with increased traffic on Ball [Road], Katella [Avenue] and losing the access to the 5 Freeway.”

Several attendees also worried about potential noise, traffic congestion, increased crime, and pollution that could come with the proposed project.

Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955.

The proposal now awaits final approval from the city council, likely in April, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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