Disneyland’s $2B Expansion Gets Anaheim City Approval

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The happiest place on Earth has gotten the green light to become a little happier.

The Anaheim City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved Disneyland’s multibillion-dollar expansion, which will include new rides, hotels, shops and restaurants. 

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The council voted 7-0 following public comments from over 200 people on Tuesday night, running well into the early morning hours as residents discussed potential new tax revenue, jobs and traffic concerns, according to the L.A. Times. The vote provides initial approval of the expansion plan, which the company calls DisneylandForward, with another procedural vote scheduled for May 7. 

“We are thrilled that the City of Anaheim has agreed to work together on this legacy project and excited for the City Council’s initial approval of DisneylandForward as we move toward a final vote in May,” Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock told the Commercial Observer in an emailed statement. 

The plan allows Disney to redesign its Anaheim resort into what Rachel Alde, global development vice president for Disney, once described as a more “immersive” experience, per the L.A. Times. The expansion, the largest at the park since the 1990s, will cost between $1.9 billion and $2.5 billion over the next decade. Disney also incentivized the expansion with $40 million toward the city and another $50 million on road improvements in and around the park. 

To that end, the council’s approval paves the way for zoning changes to Disney’s 100-acre footprint in the city, so that attractions can be added alongside hotels occupying the west side of Disneyland Drive, as well as new shopping and dining areas in what is currently a parking lot at Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard, though the park will not expand beyond its current boundaries.

Hotel tax revenue is the biggest source of money for Anaheim, with the city expecting over $236 million from such taxes for the 12-month period ending in June. 

Indeed, much of the city’s revenue comes from visitors in general, accounting for 60 percent of its general fund via hotel stay, sales and property taxes, according to City of Anaheim spokesperson Mike Lyster. Many of those visitors come for Disneyland, he said.

The park’s expansion could further generate between $15 million to as much as $244 million in new city revenue, depending on what the Disney decides to build, Lyster said. The expansion will also likely create thousands of jobs and other business developments there for the foreseeable future. 

“This is a milestone vote for us … we will see significant developments and economic impact from this over the years and decades to come,” Lyster said.

Nick Trombola can be reached at ntrombola@commercialobserver.com.