by Ray Keating
March 25, 2021
Apparently, the business and Imagineering minds at Disneyland haven’t exactly been dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Far from it. Disneyland made a splash today with big expansion plans for the resort. Or more specifically, the company announced plans for a path to major expansion.
The Walt Disney Company’s DisneylandForward plan appears to be chock full of potential for those who enjoy Disneyland, but the central effort, at this point in time, is to gain flexibility from local government, i.e., the City of Anaheim, so that investments by Disney – investments that would help the region’s economic recovery and growth – are able to move ahead. That kind of common-sense flexibility, however, often is in short supply in politics and government, especially in places like California. So, time and negotiations in coming months will tell the tale. But initial responses should please Disney and other local business representatives.
As Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort, put it, “Thinking big and leading the way is both our legacy and our best path forward. Now is the time to be bold, to dream, to believe, and to lead! The world-renowned Disneyland Resort is poised to bring back jobs to our community as well as new entertainment and experiences to loyal fans and new audiences for generations to come.”
Considering that most plans like this from large companies seek taxpayer backing, Disney states that this is not the case. The goals are summed up as follows:
“To be clear, Disney is not seeking any public funding for DisneylandForward, nor are we seeking additional square footage or hotel rooms beyond what is currently approved and allowed. Rather, we are simply working with the city and community to update our existing approvals to allow for integrated development to be located and built throughout Disney properties.”
Where might such increased zoning flexibility take Disneyland? Well, there’s a great deal to consider in what Disney put forward today, but at the same time, the company said, “We are not announcing any future projects at this time.” Still, possibilities have been dangled: “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.” Mentioned were lands coming to Tokyo DisneySea, such as Frozen, Repunzel’s tower from Tangled, and Peter Pan’s Neverland, along with Shanghai’s Zootopia and Tron ride, and Hollywood Studio’s “Toy Story Land.”
The following is a general map of possibilities presented by Disney.
Regarding the new Disney entertainment area, the company put forth: “This property could be the perfect location to cater to locals, conventioneers, hotel and Disneyland Resort guests with restaurants, hotels, live music, shopping, ticketed shows and theme park experiences modeled after the popular Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.”
The plan also calls for enhanced parking, transportation and transit options.
Disney does in fact hit on the need for investment to get the economy moving again. It specifically addresses the impact of the pandemic, and what’s needed:
“While no one could have predicted just how far-reaching the job loss and economic impacts would be as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we know this past year has been incredibly difficult. It has taken a major toll on our cast, The Anaheim Resort, Anaheim residents and families, Orange County, and California. But, with time, we will recover, and we’ll do it together. We believe in the future of this great city, and we are ready to join hands as even stronger partners. With continued investment, we can make an even larger impact on short-term recovery, enhance long-term growth, and help address some of Anaheim’s more difficult problems in the future.”
The Orange County Register quoted Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu saying: “In the past year, we have seen what the Disneyland Resort means to Anaheim’s economy and the role it plays in helping us provide vital public services for our residents, neighborhoods and businesses… I welcome fresh thinking about how the Disneyland Resort evolves and how we best maximize this resource for our city.”
Flexibility by government in allowing private investment to move ahead would, indeed, be fresh thinking – and that’s needed in Anaheim, in the rest of California, and across the nation.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at email@example.com.
The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?
Keating has two new books out. Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel is the 13ththriller/mystery in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com. Past Lives: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story is the 14th book in the series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed book at www.raykeatingonline.com.
You also can order his book Behind Enemy Lines: Conservative Communiques from Left-Wing New York from Amazon or signed books at RayKeatingOnline.com. His other recent nonfiction book is Free Trade Rocks! 10 Points on International Trade Everyone Should Know.
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