Disney Pledges Billions on Brand-New Disneyland Project, But an Uphill Battle Lies Ahead

disneyland forward
Credit: Disney Parks/Canva

The Walt Disney Company has pledged a multi-billion-dollar investment into a totally revamped Disneyland property, as well as into the City of Anaheim, California, but the company faces an uphill battle despite its willingness to dole out the dough.

sleeping beauty castle at disneyland with clouds and rainbow

Credit: Becky Burkett/Canva

What is Disneyland Forward?

Simply put, Disneyland Forward is a multi-year public planning initiative created by The Walt Disney Company with the goal of updating Disney’s existing development approvals from the City of Anaheim. Those updates will ultimately lend themselves to a complete, multi-year transformation of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

“Thinking big and leading the way is both our legacy and our best path forward,” said Disneyland President Ken Potrock. “Now is the time to be bold, to dream, to believe, and to lead. The Disneyland Resort is poised to create new jobs and revenue for our community as well as new immersive entertainment and experiences for loyal fans and new audiences for generations to come.”

Related: Former Anaheim City Leader Found Dead as FBI Looks at Dealings With Disney, Big Business

disneyland forward

Credit: Disneyland Resort

What’s the Goal of Disneyland Forward?

The official website describes the mission of Disneyland Forward in detail, explaining that it is “fully funded by Disney” and “updates Disney’s current development plans, which were approved by the city [of Anaheim] in the 1990s.”

disneyland forward

Credit: Disney Parks/Canva

The new project will not increase the square footage that is already approved for hotels and for the development of Disney’s theme parks. Disney says its goal in the Disneyland Forward project is to change the way entertainment is offered and experienced by mixing together theme parks, live entertainment, shops, restaurants, and hotels to create an entirely new experience across Disney properties in the future.

On Tuesday, Disney held a community workshop to give people a better idea of what the Disneyland Forward project entails. The workshop allowed attendees to see concept artwork and maps of the proposed redistricting and projected areas of expansion on the east and west sides of the Disneyland Resort.

Disney to invest $2B for DisneylandForward

Credit: Disneyland Resort

But despite being armed with ample ambition, drive, and funding, Disney faces an uphill battle in getting the new project approved by the City of Anaheim.

Challenges in Anaheim 

Disney faces challenges as it works toward its new goals for the Disneyland Resort.

Per the Disneyland Forward website, the City of Anaheim’s “traditional” district and zone approaches don’t allow for the “integrated experiences” Disney is hoping to bring to its guests. Thus, the current approaches limit Disney’s ability to keep investing in the community at this time.

city of anaheim california

Credit: City of Anaheim

As part of Disney’s proposal, the company plans to spend millions of dollars on housing, parks, and streets in the city. Disney further announced its commitment to invest a minimum of $1.9 billion into Disneyland Resort over the next 10 years.

Per news station KTLA:

The development agreement was presented Tuesday during an informational workshop for Disneyland Forward, a rezoning project proposed by the entertainment company.

The proposal states that Disney would be given flexibility on where it can build new theme park areas, hotels, and dining within its existing footprint, and in return, the company would guarantee the city of Anaheim a continued investment into the resort along with $30 million for affordable housing and $8 million for parks and nearby road improvements.

mickey mouse gesturing to sleeping beauty castle

Credit: Disney/Canva

The development agreement would last until 2064, a 28-year extension from its original agreement, which would have expired in 2034.

In recent months, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro has talked about the possibility of adding attractions and other elements at Disneyland inspired by Disney’s Frozen, Marvel’s Black Panther, and Pixar’s Coco, though no definitive announcements have been made.

Move Over Orlando, Disney Ready to Set Multi-Million-Dollar Project in Motion - Inside the Magic

Credit: Disney Parks/ITM

The Anaheim Planning Commission will hold its first hearings for Disneyland Forward in March, and the proposal will be voted upon in May.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!