The Anaheim City Council has approved a 30-year extension of Disneyland Resort's admission tax waiver in exchange for a promise to invest $1 billion on its California theme park complex.
Twenty years ago, Disney forged an agreement with the city of Anaheim to exempt itself from any potential taxes imposed on theme park admission tickets. With that agreement set to expire in 2016, Disney began lobbying officials for an extension.
On Wednesday, Anahim City Council voted 3-2 to approve a 30-year extension to Disney's tax exemption. In return, Disney has committed to spending $1 billion on improvements and enhanceements to its property.
Among the enhacements is a new parking structure housing an addiitonal 5,000 spaces. Disneyland'sMickey & Friends parking garage is currently among the largest in the world, accommodating more than 10,000 vehicles. However, growth in theme park guest traffic has forced Disney to utilize numerous surface lots and even off-site parking for its Cast Members to accommodate the crowds. A sizeable plot of land located at the southeast corner of Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue is currently designated the Toy Story Parking Area. This land is earmarked for eventual development as a third theme park for the Disneyland Resort.
In a message to Disneyland passholders, resort president Michael Colglazier gave some hint as to how most of the $1 billion will be spent:
"Most of the investment could be devoted to a significant theme park expansion within the current Disneyland Resort property. With Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm now part of the Disney family, along with the impressive collection of Disney and Pixar franchises, Disneyland has tremendous potential to bring new stories to Anaheim."
No specifics were offered as to what the new investment may bring. Disney is prohibited from using the Marvel characters within its Florida-based Walt Disney World complex. Rumors have suggested that a Marvel or Star Wars-themed makeover has been considered for Disneyland'sTomorrowland. Other speculation has pointed toward a potential Star Wars land on the current site of Disneyland'sToontown.
Disney could conceivably break ground on a third theme park focused entirely on Marvel or Star Wars characters.
Another possibility for the funding is a new Disney Vacation Club property. DVC's sole presence on the west coast consists of 48 villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. Disney once considered plans to add a fourth tower to the Disneyland Hotel which would include at least some Disney Vacation Club villas. However, slower-than-anticipated sales for its Aulani resort in Hawaii reportedly contributed to a delay in further DVC construction in the western U.S.
Next month Disney will host its fourth D23 fax expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. Observers are hopeful that Disney will finally reveal some future plans for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World at the event.
Disney's deal with the City of Anaheim also includes an option for 15 additional tax-free years if certain undisclosed investment criteria are met.
The $1 billion didn't really mean much to me as we don't really know over what time period Disney is supposed to spend the money. A lot of that monies could have already been allocated for maintenance and upgrades of the aging (60 years) infrastructure at DLRA.
How much is Disney spending to just add a section to Disney's Animal Kingdom park in Florida for the Pandora (Avatar) expansion? I don't really know. I pretty sure it is in the millions but is in the 10's of millions or more? Would updating Tomorrowland at DLRA cost a $billion?
Disney dangled that carrot in front of City Council in order to gain the tax waiver. I haven't seen any specifics reported publicly but I tend to think that council would have made sure the money was earmarked for new construction (jobs) rather than just some accumulation of budgeted maintenance that Disney is already obligated to spend.
Don't know about Pandora but the Fantasyland expansion project was reportedly in the neighborhood of $550 million. Cars Land at DCA was $750 million. They also spent another $400-500 million on DCA when they added Toy Story Mania, World of Color, Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Carthay Circle restaurant, new front entrance plaza with trolley, re-themed Silly Symphony swings and Goofy's Sky School, and re-themed various other areas of the park.
Off the top of my head, I think Mission Space cost $100-120 million and was touted as Disney's most expensive attraction ever at the time. (Expedition Everest and Radiator Springs Racers may have since eclipsed that cost due to all of the steel and faux rock work, not necessarily the ride system itself.)
I am keeping fingers crossed that rumors of DHS plans being scrapped for something much larger prove correct. Someone threw out $3 billion for DHS and Epcot enhancements. I have a hard time believing that number, but I am all for some major changes.
I think Avatarland and the nighttime show are great additions for DAK. Wish they wouldn't be delayed, but delays often happen with WDW construction.
Epcot and DHS both need more. Epcot Soaring and Frozen changes are great, but those are already two of the few rides at Epcot for us. Epcot has become mostly a dining destination for us. We enjoyed Disney Springs and are enjoying the peacefulness of the resort restaurants, so Epcot admission is a deterrent to us.
We opted to head to CA around NYE and will go to DL/CA for the first time in ages. DW was in the 80's. For me, my only DL trip was 1969. Thanks to some information from Wil, we are really excited with DL/CA.
As part of the agreement, construction at the Disneyland Resort must begin before the end of 2017 and be completed in seven years, otherwise the ban will expire. This was the only public thing I found but as you said it did not say what the money would be spent on other than a new parking garage which I'm sure was already planned with or without the deal.
I see this becoming the norm for some years now. Disney has way more work going on right now than central Florida has workers. Disney is not the only place in central Florida that has construction going on right now so I'm sure the competition must be fierce for competent workers and just as important competent construction companies to do the work. Another problem ALL of Florida has always shared is work force turnover. So many people move to Florida and then get home sick and move back north (I have personal experience with this, I would still live down there if my wife didn't get homesick). On top of all of this think of the 55,000 people (last number I heard) that Disney employees to run the joint and there again Disney isn't the only venue in central Florida.
So like I said I personally think you are experiencing the new norm which will probably just get worse and not better.