In the same week that Disney Parks & Resorts boss Josh D’Amaro announced the company was abandoning a new $1 billion employee campus in Orlando, the president of Disneyland Resort Ken Potrock hosted an OCForum meeting with local business and political leaders in Anaheim to discuss DisneylandForward, the company’s 30-year plan for expansion and innovation in the area.
While DisneylandForward was first introduced in 2021, this week Potrock and other Disney executives revealed new details about the project, including a Disney-sponsored economic study from Cal State Fullerton estimating that, for every $1 billion Disney invests to update and renovate the resort, over 4,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic output would be generated during the 4-year construction period. Thereafter, according to the Los Angeles Times, that investment will generate $253 million annually in economic output, $15 million in tax revenue and 2,292 jobs.
The OCForum presentation was an opportunity for Disney brass to hold a community forum of sorts and rally support for the project in anticipation of the delivery this year of an environmental impact report on the proposed expansion. Through August, Disney is also hosting a series of community coffees in local neighborhoods to share information with Anaheim residents and businesses about DisneylandForward.
Disney, specifically, is looking for Anaheim officials to loosen zoning restrictions in the city’s 1994 “Resort Specific Plan” for the area in and around Disneyland.
The DisneylandForward web site maintains that “…while those plans resulted in major improvements to the entire Anaheim Resort, their ‘traditional’ district/zone approach does not allow for the diverse, integrated experiences theme park visitors now seek, severely limiting Disney’s ability to continue investing in Anaheim.”
What the resort needs, the site maintains, is flexibility.
“Today hotel, theme park, retail and dining are all part of one immersive experience. Guests expect that the future of entertainment will seamlessly weave all uses together in ways that were hard to imagine more than 25 years ago when the city created these specific plans.”
Suffice it to say, these meetings are taking place in a very different political atmosphere from that the company faces in Orlando. In fact DeSantis’ California counterpart, Gov. Gavin Newsom, took to Twitter to applaud the results of the Fullerton study presented at the event.
“Great news for the city of Anaheim,” tweeted Newsom along with a media report about the economic forecast.
Potrock posted enthusiastically on Instagram afterward, “What a treat to host the @oc_forum, an amazing group of Anaheim and Orange County business and civic leaders, at Disneyland Resort and share more about DisneylandForward. I am so excited for the future of this incredible resort as we work together on setting the stage for the next several decades – there is so much more magic to come! Thanks for making special appearances, Mickey, Buzz and friends. To infinity and beyond…”
So what are Disney’s plans in the area?
“With DisneylandForward and more flexibility within our existing properties, new lands and adventures like those underway at Tokyo DisneySea and Shanghai Disneyland could inspire new experiences here,” reads the copy on DisneylandForward.com. Examples given are Frozen land and the Tangled and Peter Pan attractions for the original park and Zootopia, Tron and Toy Story elements for Disney’s California Adventure. These are just examples, however. Disney brass have not committed to any of them, though Disney CEO Bob Iger said earlier this year that a new attraction based on the Avatar franchise will hit Disneyland soon.
But where would these new attractions, whatever they may be, go? Artists’ renderings of the plans provided by Disney, while conceptual, show one major development to the west of the current parks near the Disneyland Hotel and another to the southeast of California Adventure. Both plots are currently dedicated mostly to parking. See images below.