Disneyland laid out long-term expansion plans to Orange County business leaders on Wednesday, May 17 that will extensively reimagine what the future of the Anaheim theme park resort district will look like over the next three decades.
Disneyland resort President Ken Potrock spoke before the OC Forum at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel about the DisneylandForward proposal that envisions extensive theme park, retail and parking expansion within the resort district boundaries.
“To put it simply, DisneylandForward sets the stage for significant and multi-decade investment in the future. This is the next generation of the Disneyland resort,” Potrock told the attendees. “When Disney invests, all boats rise and everyone benefits.”
Disneyland first unveiled the DisneylandForward expansion plan in September 2021, a few months after reopening Disney’s Anaheim theme parks following a yearlong pandemic closure.
The OC Forum presentation served as a town hall of sorts where Disneyland put forward its case to Orange County business and civic leaders detailing the tourism, tax revenue and employment benefits of the DisneylandForward proposal.
“The economic engine that is the Disneyland resort will be turning 68 years young in July, yet we believe it has more potential than ever,” Potrock said. “When we work together the possibilities are endless and that is exactly what we are trying to do.”
Since 2021, Disneyland has been working closely with the city of Anaheim to extensively update the planning approval process governing the resort district. A draft environmental impact study is expected to be completed by the summer with the DisneylandForward proposal going before the Anaheim Planning Commission before the end of the year and the City Council in early 2024.
An economic study presented by Cal State Fullerton’s Anil Puri toward the end of the OC Forum spelled out the economic impact of every billion dollars invested by Disneyland. During an average four-year construction period, Disneyland would generate 4,500 jobs, $11 million in tax revenue and $1.1 billion in economic output in Anaheim for every billion dollars spent, according to Puri’s study.
The DisneylandForward presentation included concept art from Disney theme park projects around the globe offering “possibilities” of what future expansion could look like at the Disneyland resort. The projects presented included the Tangled, Frozen and Peter Pan themed lands coming to Tokyo Disneyland in Japan and the Zootopia themed land planned for Shanghai Disneyland in China.
“What we would love is for those future innovations to have a spot here in Anaheim,” Disney’s Global Development vice president Rachel Alde said during a panel discussion.
DisneylandForward is Disney’s effort to work with the city to grow the Disneyland resort, update the blueprint for the theme park district and propel Anaheim’s economic rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Disney is asking the city for more flexibility in land use plans approved in the 1990s in order to be able to add a mix of theme park, hotel, retail, dining and entertainment on the eastern and western edges of the Disneyland resort.
“Back in the early ’90s, Disney and the city of Anaheim worked collaboratively on their vision for the next three-plus decades,” Potrock said. “Together, we built this unique tourism engine and the vision we had for the continued growth of this community is quite honestly a marvel. This is a very unique, special and advantageous benefit to the city of Anaheim, Orange County and in fact, the entire state. We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to do it again as we look to the next 10, 20 and even 30 years ahead.”
The Immersive Theme Park westside expansion in the DisneylandForward proposal envisions theme park attractions on the Downtown Disney and Lilo and Stitch parking lots woven amid the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel.
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The proposed Disney Entertainment Destination eastside expansion would bring together theme park experiences, hotels, retail, dining and entertainment on the Toy Story parking lot next to the Anaheim Convention Center.
The DisneylandForward plan also includes possible new parking along Disney Way.
Disneyland has used less than half of the millions of square feet of theme park and hotel space that has already been approved for the resort district. The DisneylandForward conceptual development plan stays within Disney’s existing 500-acre property in Anaheim with no physical expansion or additional acreage.