Entertainment

Disney receives approval to expand California theme parks

ANAHEIM, Calif. –

Disney has received a key approval to expand its Southern California theme parks in its first push to make major changes to its iconic Disneyland in decades.

The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the plan to transform Disney’s 490-acre (488-hectare) campus in densely-populated Southern California by moving parking to a multi-story structure and redeveloping a massive lot with new entertainment and rides. It was a second, required vote for the plan after the council gave initial approval last month. The approved zoning changes and ordinances require another 30 days for changes to take effect.

The proposal doesn’t expand the parks’ physical footprint but will help Disney create new, immersive experiences for visitors by building a land such as the snow-covered hamlet of Arendelle from “Frozen” or the critter-filled metropolis of “Zootopia.” It requires Disney to invest at least $1.9 billion in the project over the next decade and spend tens of millions of dollars on street improvements, affordable housing and other infrastructure in the city of 345,000 people.

It’s the first time Disney has sought a major change to its California theme parks since the 1990s, when the company obtained approvals to turn Disneyland, its original theme park dubbed “the happiest place on Earth” and built in 1955, into a resort hub. It later built the Disney California Adventure theme park and the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment area in the city 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.

Disneyland was the second-most visited theme park in the world in 2022 with 16.8 million people coming through the gates, according to a report by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

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