Entertainment

Disneyland gets OK to add new rides, restaurants, hotels

The Anaheim City Council unanimously approved Disneyland’s multibillion-dollar expansion plan Wednesday, allowing the theme park to build new attractions, shops and restaurants within its current properties while allocating million to local projects.

The council voted 7-0 following presentations and public comments from more than 200 people, including residents, Disney employees, city officials, trade associations and labor groups, held until the early hours of Wednesday.

“Tonight is a decision that has weighed very heavily on (my) mind,” Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said during Tuesday night’s meeting. “As a vocal critic of some of these projects in the past, I was truly surprised, by doing my due diligence and reading thousands of pages of documents, that this project would benefit our community, not just in the near future, but decades to come.

“I believe the success of (Disneyland) gives us a very important way to build affordable housing and invest in improving our parks in every neighborhood,” she added. “It gives us those resources for police and fire and helps us improve infrastructure.”

The motion to approve the project was made by Councilor Natalie Meeks and seconded by Aitken.

The deal is a historic moment for the theme park, which hasn’t made major changes since the 1990s, when it added a new park, a downtown shopping and dining district and parking lots.

The council’s vote provides initial approval of the expansion plan, with a second procedural vote expected on May 7. If approved at that time, the plan will require 30 days for the changes to take effect.

Known as DisneylandForward, the plan will give Disney the flexibility to redesign the resort, including Disneyland, California Adventure Park and the Downtown Disney business district, into what Disney’s vice president of global development, Rachel Alde, described it as a more “immersive” experience.

The council’s action will result in a series of amendments to zoning rules so the entertainment giant can add new attractions alongside hotels on the west side of Disneyland Drive and rides as well as new shopping, dining and entertainment to the south -is on what is currently the Toy Story parking area. on Katella Avenue and Harbor Boulevard. The park will not expand beyond its current 100-acre footprint in Anaheim, according to the plan.

Tuesday’s meeting drew hundreds of residents – both supporters and opponents of the project – who stayed late into the night for the opportunity to speak and witness the council’s final decision. For supporters of the project, the project is seen as a job creator that will boost the local economy.

Kevin Rafferty, a Disneyland employee and longtime Anaheim resident, said his parents met while working at Disneyland and he and his wife met the same way.

“I’m so excited about what the future of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim could look like,” he said. “Additionally, (the project) will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and thousands of new jobs.”

But Disney’s plans, including a proposal to privatize the public road, have also raised concerns among some, worried about the impact of traffic on the community.

“We have to live with traffic jams on a daily basis, with the added bonus of road closures and detours due to Disneyland events,” explains Trangdai Glassey, who lives near the park. “People come to Disneyland to have fun, but local residents experience many problems: air pollution, daily traffic jams and noise pollution. »

Some residents also feared the expansion would increase rents and the cost of living in Anaheim.

A few speakers complained about a lack of seats in the council chambers, forcing them to stand outside in the cold until they could address the council about the project.

The proposal includes a new 17,000-space parking garage, as well as three pedestrian bridges on Harbor Boulevard and two bridges on Disneyland Drive. The plan also calls for the city to give Disney control of several adjacent public streets, including Magic Way, Hotel Way and parts of Clementine Street.

Disney executives said the streets they are seeking to take back are already primarily used by guests heading to the park. He proposed paying Anaheim $40 million for the roads — part of a $90 million investment in street improvements near the park, including a plan to widen Katella Avenue .

In total, Disney has committed to giving the city more than $100 million for street improvements and affordable housing as part of the plan. City officials, at a meeting in January, suggested that Disney increase its contributions to the city.

Councilwoman Natalie Rubalcava praised Disney’s $30 million commitment to affordable housing at the January meeting but said the company should consider a longer-term investment in housing in the city.

“One of the things I would like to see Disney commit to in perpetuity is additional funding for housing, whether it’s a home ownership program or last mile funding for affordable housing projects,” she said, suggesting Disney could partner with the city to fund a percentage of affordable housing projects.

Disney claimed that every billion dollars invested could already generate $253 million in economic output for the city, according to a report cited by the company.

But there was a lot of skepticism within the community. An online petition opposing Disneyland’s efforts to take over certain streets has generated more than 500 signatures. Others feared that Disney, which already plays a dominant and outsized role as a power broker in the city, could increase its influence and impact in Anaheim.

Some residents have become skeptical of the city’s plans involving Disney after an internal report revealed a “potential criminal conspiracy” involving COVID-19 relief funds, former Mayor Harry Sidhu and the former head of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

An FBI affidavit accused Sidhu of being part of a “cabal” of public figures that included a Disney power broker.

But Disney executives defended the project, saying it could mean thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city.

Hotel occupancy tax revenue is Anaheim’s largest funding source, a city spokesperson said, bringing in $236.3 million for the 12 months ending in June.

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News Source : www.latimes.com

Eleon

With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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