Anaheim City Council approves DisneylandForward

ANAHEIM, Calif. (April 17, 2024) — Anaheim’s City Council voted to approve DisneylandForward, a plan to allow new theme park, hotel, entertainment and retail development around its existing theme parks.

The Council approved the plan in a 7-0 vote as part of a meeting that started Tuesday night with a vote taking place early Wednesday morning.

The vote came after three and a half hours of public comment from 84 public speakers, with 57 in favor, 24 against and three without a clear, strong opinion on the plan.

The Council’s vote provides initial approval of DisneylandForward with a second, procedural vote expected at the next meeting on May 7. If approved at that time, the plan would require another 30 days for changes to take effect.

Development under DisneylandForward, including new theme park lands and attractions, would play out over years and decades.

DisneylandForward is a multidecade plan to update where types of development can go and how they mix together on space Disney already owns or operates on around its Anaheim theme parks.

The plan calls for allowing theme park attractions alongside hotels on the west side of Disneyland Drive and theme park attractions alongside new shopping, dining and entertainment to the southeast on what is today the Toy Story Parking Area at Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard.

DisneylandForward also calls for expanded parking east and new parking northeast of the theme parks and potential foot bridges across Harbor Boulevard and Disneyland Drive.

The plan does not grant any new acreage, square footage or hotel rooms to be developed. Instead, it shifts development amounts already approved by the city to other land Disney now operates on.

The zoning changes would allow for the building of additional theme park and other visitor attractions in Anaheim.

Disney has not shared any specific development plans at this stage but has pointed to attractions at parks around the world as general examples, including a potential land based on the “Avatar” films.

Tuesday’s action approves an updated mix of uses, rather than a specific new land, attraction or other use.

Individual projects would still undergo city planning review by the Planning and Building Department and other city departments.

As part of a development agreement, Disney is required to invest a minimum of $1.9 billion in theme park, lodging, entertainment, shopping and dining within 10 years.

The development agreement also requires Disney to provide:

  • $30 million for affordable housing in Anaheim, with $15 million in the first year and $15 million in five years.
  • $10 million: for sewer improvements along Katella Avenue.
  • $8 million for Anaheim parks within the first year.

DisneylandForward also calls for Disney to pay $39.6 million to take on responsibility for Magic Way, a road of 1,150 feet in length from Disneyland Drive to Walnut Street, and for two entry drives into Disney parking at Hotel Way and at Clementine Street.

The city is transferring responsibility for Magic Way because the road overwhelmingly serves the Disneyland Hotel, Disney employee parking and the south end of the Pixar Pals Parking Structure.

Magic Way is set to stay open to traffic accessing the hotel and parking. The street is set to close to right turns at Walnut to help limit visitor traffic through nearby neighborhoods.

Anaheim is improving turn lanes at nearby Walnut and Ball Road as a viable alternative for those traveling down Walnut.

The City Council approved DisneylandForward because of what visitors mean to our city.

Visitors account for more than half the revenue we use to serve our residents with police, fire, libraries, community services and to pay down city debt.

Much of the plan will take surface parking lots that generate little city revenue today and turn them into theme park attractions, hotels and entertainment that bring expanded funding for services for our residents.

Depending on what’s built, Anaheim is projected to see $15 million to $244 million in additional yearly revenue at complete buildout of what’s allowed under DisneylandForward.

DisneylandForward also includes significant distance, traffic, noise and other protections to ensure whatever is built is a good neighbor.

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