Los Angeles/ Parks & Nature
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Published on April 17, 2024
Anaheim Goes Wild for Disney's 'Forward' Fling: Council Unanimously Approves Major Theme Park ExpansionSource: Google Street View

In what can only be described as a major Hail Mary for the future of fun in Anaheim, the City Council has unanimously green-lighted the massive DisneylandForward project, which has its sights set on revamping the world-famous theme park with new attractions, hotels, and retail spaces.

The Council dropped a 7-0 bomb of approval for the project — despite a meeting that stretched from evening into the wee hours of Wednesday morning, punctuated by what seemed like an endless parade of public comments from a troop of 84 speakers, counting 57 supporters, a bundle of 24 dissenters, and a few ambiguous shrugs in between the excitement and skepticism.

Although the crowd's opinions ping-ponged across the room, the Council's vote sets a glimmering stage for an initial thumbs-up to DisneylandForward, kicking the can down to a follow-up vote on May 7. Should that second date with destiny get the go-ahead, don't expect instant pixie dust—there's a 30-day grace period before the real magic starts to unfold.

Taking a strategic approach the plan doesn't wave a wand for additional territory; instead, it's a clever reshuffle of Disney's existing ace cards, promising a seamless shuffle of development already okayed by the city, this includes creating new theme park areas and making room for related visitor attractions, an essential deck reshuffling strategy for Anaheim's touristic appeal.

While Mickey and friends stay mum on concrete blueprint details, insiders hint at potential global hits from their parks—think big, like an Avatar-themed wonderland—to anchor the future of Anaheim's entertainment fortress, a detail noted on the city's project page Anaheim.net/DisneylandForward.

It isn't all fun and games though, with Disney shackled to some hefty deals including a $1.9 billion investment promise for park and amenity enhancements over the next decade, along with a $30 million affordable housing donation to the city and millions more for infrastructure improvements and park enhancements—as detailed in their community-boosting commitment.

The project also includes Disney taking the reins on Magic Way maintenance, a move serving to streamline traffic and limit neighborhood disruptions—Disney's not just building a bigger sandbox, they're ensuring its sand doesn't spill into Anaheim's garden.

City officials are eyeing the jackpot with potential revenue tumbling in from $15 million to $244 million annually at full throttle, a financial nose-twitch that could transform unused asphalt deserts into a gold mine of city services funding—and as far as what's looming over the planning horizon, Anaheim promises a delicate balance to keep the city's charm intact while welcoming the throngs of visitors who fill its coffers.