Disney Finds Itself Waiting on the Government for Park Expansions at Disneyland & Walt Disney World

    While Epic Universe construction is chugging along, both Walt Disney World and Disneyland find themselves in the position of waiting on the government before they can build expansions at either of their theme parks.


    Out in California, the Disneyland Resort is moving through the process of a massive rezoning effort before they (possibly) expand both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Essentially, Disney has land that they want to expand to the west of the current theme park complex that is currently zoned for hotels and parking. Disney would need city approval for a rezoning into theme park use or mixed-use.

    Interestingly, the rezoning effort would not result in any new acreage. Instead, Disney would simply shift already approved development amounts across land that Disney already owns.

    Currently, the rezoning effort is moving through various stages of City of Anaheim planning workshops and is expected to be presented for approval in a City Council hearing sometime this Spring or early Summer.

    Disney says that it wants to expand their theme park footprint, but they are clearly in a sort of holding pattern as they await government approval. If approved, Disney would need to commit to a minimum investment of $1.9 billion over the next decade, and a minimum of $2.5 billion over the same time frame to avoid penalties.

    Interestingly, California Governor Gavin Newsom has found himself in the position of championing Disney following a contentious year or so during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Both Iger and D’Amaro, pictured with Newsom below with the DisneylandForward concept in the background, spoke out against Newsom while the state of California kept the Disneyland Resort theme parks closed.

    Newsom appeared to make a complete 180 when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis began his culture war with Disney. Newsom even attended the Disneyland Pride Night after previewing Disney’s expansion plans for the Anaheim parks.

    Disney CEO Bob Iger, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro

    Florida Lawsuits

    Down in the swamps of Florida, Disney is in a similar position of waiting on the government, but the details and likely outcome are completely different. As you’ve likely heard by now, Disney is in a battle with multiple government entities over development agreements and the makeup of the local government district that envelops Disney World.

    Instead of hashing out the specifics of the lawsuits, we’ll take a more high-level look at what it means for the future of Walt Disney World.

    We’ve mentioned it before, but the ongoing battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has already dealt an unbelievable blow to the future of Walt Disney World – and it has nothing to do with Reedy Creek.

    Back in 2021, Disney announced that it would be moving the Parks Division and Walt Disney Imagineering to Lake Nona, Florida. Just 30 minutes away from Disney World, this new Parks & Experiences headquarters was poised to change the landscape of Walt Disney World for decades to come. Disney was essentially admitting what had already become true years and years ago – Walt Disney World is the center of the Parks operations.

    In late 2021, site work had already begun to create a new Parks Division campus headquarters, and things were rolling along nicely. Then, in 2022, a public statement of support from Disney for the LGBTQ+ community pissed off Ron DeSantis. DeSantis would rally his rubber-stamp legislature to retaliate against Disney, and the rest is history. The hostile actions from the government certainly played a part in Disney pulling the plug on the Lake Nona campus.

    The cancelation of the move to Florida will likely be looked back upon as a major turning point for Walt Disney World development in the decades to come. Still, Iger & company wanted to inject $17 billion into Walt Disney World over the next 10 years in a “bullish” stance on the parks. So far, we’ve seen money thrown at the singing bears show, but little more.

    While Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro continues to present Blue Sky ideas for Walt Disney World, shovels still need to be purchased, much less stuck in the ground. Both Iger and D’Amaro have hinted that further investment would potentially be paused or delayed based on how hostile the state had become toward Disney (here and here). With DeSantis and his hand-selected Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors not backing down, it’s very likely that Disney will wait for the dust to settle a bit before green-lighting too much for Walt Disney World.

    While Disney has not adjusted any long-term forecasts such as the one to invest $60 billion in the Experiences division over the next decade, they find themselves waiting on government approval or action at both of their domestic theme parks before they can substantially move forward.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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    1. Disney took 3 years to finish its plan in Anaheim and gave itself 10 years to spend $1.9 Billion and another $600 million or it will donate $5 million to Anaheim. This is the same Disney that cancelled the 4th luxury hotel because the Union successfully passed a proposition for a $20 an hour wage mandate for any business that take advantage of city subsidies. Disney cancelled the Eastern Gateway because it was unwilling to make accommodations for a bridge to the detriment of local businesses and residents who felt it was UGLY and lacking access to tourists. Anaheim city council decided to table the proposal.

      As for Florida, Disney decided their own opinions matter more than the people of Florida. As long as Disney chooses to be distracted with their lawsuits, they might decide to delay coming up with plans to be competitive with Universal’s Epic. The CFTOD isn’t stopping Disney from submitting permits.

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