Disneyland Resort working with Anaheim on updating theme parks

Disney Resort officials announced Thursday that they plan to work with city officials on revising some permitted uses at Disneyland and California Adventure to allow for more development.

The Disneyland Forward project may take up to two years before Anaheim
City Council members are asked to make any zoning changes that would allow
for mixed-use development at the theme park area.

"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,'' Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said.

"I welcome fresh thinking about how the Disneyland Resort evolves and how we best maximize this resource for our city.''

Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock said in a letter to the city, "As we navigate our shared COVID-19 recovery, we again are looking at ways to
pair robust leadership with bold ideas to ensure the Anaheim Resort Area stays
vibrant for generations to come.''

Despite the travails of the pandemic, Potruck said, "today there is a reason for hope, and we know we will make it through this together ... At Disneyland Resort, we are taking this time to dream beyond the now and think boldly about the future because bold ideas and thoughtful leadership aren't just our legacy, they're our best path forward.''

Disneyland has permission from the city to build new attractions, hotel rooms, parking and other retail businesses, but Potruck said, "our existing development approvals severely limit the ways in which we can expand and locate our offerings.''

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Mike Lyster, a spokesman for the city, said Disneyland officials "want to work with us over the next couple of years for more flexibility within (already approved) zoning.''

It's not unusual for a business to request zoning changes to allow for new development, Lyster said.

"But this would fall under a bigger update similar to what we did in the 1990s when we saw a separate park and Downtown Disney,'' Lyster said. 

For example, while a parcel at the theme park area may be zoned just for a hotel, Disneyland might want flexibility to add entertainment uses such as a water slide, Lyster said. Another possibility is converting the 4,589-space Toy Story parking lot, which is being used as a vaccine distribution center now, into a hotel use, Lyster said.

"That is something we're certainly open to looking at,' Lyster said. "We would generally favor anything that brings additional development to the resort.''

RELATED: Disneyland Resort to end annual pass program

"They're not talking about anything specific yet,'' Lyster said.

First, Disneyland officials will work with city planners and then those plans will be submitted to a planning commission, which will forward a recommendation to city council members who have final say.

"We would imagine two years for the whole process to take,'' Lyster said.

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