Anaheim Approves Biggest Redesign of Disneyland in 30 Years


Big changes are coming to the so-called Happiest Place on Earth.

Yesterday, the Anaheim City Council unanimously approved a sweeping renovation of Disneyland that will allow the creation of new attractions, shops and restaurants within the theme park resort’s existing property. It’s the biggest overhaul of Disneyland since the 1990s, city officials said.

Supporting the long-term success of Disneyland, a major economic engine and the biggest employer in Anaheim, Orange County’s most populous city, “ultimately translates into city revenues that help serve the residents of Anaheim,” Ted White, the deputy city manager and planning director, said at the meeting. Another procedural vote by the council is required for final approval; it is scheduled to be held in May.

Under the 40-year plan, Disney has promised to invest at least $1.9 billion in the resort over the next decade. The theme park’s footprint would not expand, except that Disney will buy three public streets from Anaheim for $40 million.

The project proposes building new attractions on an existing Disneyland parking lot and redesigning park space to better incorporate lodging, rides and shops. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened at Disneyland in 2019, is an example of this new kind of interactive experience, and Disney officials have floated adding Frozen, Zootopia or Peter Pan lands, similar to those in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

City officials said that construction work for the project would temporarily lead to noise and pollution in Anaheim. Residents also raised concerns about increased traffic, higher rents and a higher cost of living because of the expansion.

But the City Council decided the project was worth those trade-offs because of the boost the park gives to the city’s economy and the tax revenue it generates. Disney has also agreed to give the city $30 million to create affordable housing and $8 million to invest in city parks.

“As someone that has been quite the vocal critic in the past of some of these projects,” Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said during the meeting, “I’ve been really surprised in doing my due diligence and reading thousands of pages of documents that this project will bring a benefit to our community, not just in the near future, but decades to come.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the approval of the plan on Wednesday morning, saying that the project would create more than 7,800 jobs over four years through new construction, and 3,600 jobs during operation.

Monday is Earth Day, a day set aside for showing how much you love the environment. And if you love Earth Day, you can thank California.

The day’s origins can be traced back to a 1969 disaster off the coast of California that helped ignite the modern environmental movement.

I wrote a few years ago about how California inspired the creation of Earth Day. You can read the full article here.

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