Anaheim Approves California Disneyland’s $1.9 Billion Expansion Plans

Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded the vote, saying that it will create more opportunities not only for the city but also for the entire state.
Anaheim Approves California Disneyland’s $1.9 Billion Expansion Plans
A statue of Mickey Mouse at Disney California Adventure themepark in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Sophie Li

Disneyland parkgoers could soon enjoy a number of new attractions and other installations from popular Disney movies, as the Anaheim City Council approved a major expansion project April 17.

The council unanimously approved the DisneylandForward proposal in the early hours of Wednesday morning following an eight-hour-long meeting that began on Tuesday night. The plan includes a variety of possible changes the theme park could make over the next 40 years.

The proposal will return to the city council for a final vote May 7.

“When Disneyland grows, Anaheim thrives,” Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said in a statement. “Last night’s vote to approve the DisneylandForward Plan will benefit Anaheim for decades to come. The plan will provide important funding to the City of Anaheim to build affordable housing, enhance parks, and improve infrastructure.”

The proposal would add 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. Disneyland promised to invest $1.9 billion in the project over the next decade.

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

Disney officials have stated that the company was seeking increased flexibility from Anaheim regarding land use plans that were initially approved in the 1990s. Instead of expanding the park’s footprint, the approval would allow it to add rides and entertainment to an existing 50-acre parking lot.

The park’s expansion, Ms. Aitken said, will create thousands of new jobs and benefit the city for decades to come.

“Our city has a special and unique relationship with the Disneyland Resort, which began in the 1950s and continues to this day. Disney’s commitment to partner with Anaheim and invest billions of dollars is a win for our community,” the mayor said.

The company estimates that the expansion will generate more than 7,800 jobs in California over four years due to new construction. Annually, the project is expected to contribute $508 million to the economy and employ over 3,600 workers through its operations.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also affirmed the vote, saying that it will create more opportunities not only for the city but also for the entire state.

“Disney is making it clear that California is its home because we provide the welcoming and supportive environment where businesses want to expand and create more jobs,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “We look forward to cultivating more Disney magic and building opportunities for all as this investment drives billions of dollars in revenue for our state and local communities.”

A major part of opposition to the plan at the meeting was the proposed sale of Magic Way, Hotel Way, and a portion of Clementine Street—all public streets—to Disney for $40 million, with the intention to convert them into a pedestrian walkway.

Community members expressed concern that the plan to privatize city streets would further limit residents’ rights over the area and create issues in their daily commute.

“Restricting the foot traffic on Magic Way for only Disney guests who will have their keycards is unfair,” said Margaret Patino, a longtime resident who lives near the park, in a previous meeting. “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 were also worried about potential noise, traffic congestion, increased crime, and pollution associated with the proposed project.

Disneyland welcomed 16.8 million visitors in 2022, making it the second-most visited theme park globally, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955.

City News Service contributed to this report.
Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.