By now, you’ve likely heard about Bob Iger and Disney Vs. Florida Governor Ron Desantis. The fight in Florida is over Disney no longer controlling the Reedy Creek Improvement District Board that was the “oversight” for their land in and around the Walt Disney World Resort. Now that the state has replaced Disney’s Board and removed its direct pipeline to construction, Disney is desperately trying to get it back.
But why does it matter so much?
When you compare what they were able to do in Orlando with Anaheim, you will understand.
Over at Disneyland in Anaheim, Walt Disney did not have the special district he got himself in Florida. In California, the parks are beholden to red tape and things like zoning laws, which they didn’t seem to have in their district in Florida.
For the last couple of years, Disneyland has been trying to win over Anaheim to create new attraction areas on the land Disney already owns. This “Disneyland Forward” project was announced in 2019 with plans to utilize “underdeveloped land” around the resort.
The idea is exciting from a theme park fan’s viewpoint. Disney has thrown around additions based on “Frozen,” “Peter Pan,” “Tangled,” and even “Zootopia.”
Since last year, Disneyland has invited the Anaheim community to special “coffee shop events” to win the public over.
Here is a list of upcoming “coffee shop events.”
The Disneyland Forward community coffee schedule is as follows:
• May 20, Ponderosa Park, 2100 S. Haster St.
• June 3, Walnut Grove Park, 905 S. Anaheim Blvd.
• June 10, Boysen Park, 951 S. State College Blvd.
• July 8, Maxwell Park, 2655 W. Orange Ave.
• July 22, Barton Park, 800 S. Agate St.
• Aug. 12, Juarez Park, 841 S. Sunkist St.
• Sept. 9, Pearson Park, 400 N. Harbor Blvd.
• Oct. 14, Ronald Reagan Park, 945 S. Weir Canyon Rd.
Each event will run from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Disneyland does not want land from the City of Anaheim, but they want to use land “around the two Disney hotels west of the theme parks and in the site of a parking lot east of the resort.” To do that, they need the city to update zoning codes for those areas so the new offerings can be built on the land.
Disney even spells it out in their pitch:
“In the 1990s, the City of Anaheim approved specific plans that would guide the growth of the Disneyland Resort and businesses in the newly formed Anaheim Resort area. And while those plans resulted in major improvements to the entire Anaheim Resort, their “traditional” district/zone approach does not allow for the diverse, integrated experiences theme park visitors now seek, severely limiting Disney’s ability to continue investing in Anaheim.“
They had a much easier time in Orlando with their own Improvement District. Now, they must go through all the hoops their competition has to go through.
Disney has previously encountered issues with Anaheim over a “luxury resort hotel” that it wanted to build.
The Mouse expected a huge tax subsidy from the city at around $267 million. The Anaheim City Council did approve the fourth hotel back in 2016. But Disney then changed the location of the hotel.
Originally the location was at 1401 Disneyland Drive, and Disney and other hotels in that area were given the subsidy. When Disney changed the site to the other end of Downtown Disney, it moved it out of the subsidy area. It also didn’t help that the hotel was initially planned to be located in a place that was more beneficial to the city, and then they allegedly tried to move it to a location that benefitted them more.
The city and Disney might be more at odds over that incident.
While Disneyland is trying to get support for building new attractions on their land, Walt Disney World is now facing a new District Board that wants more inspections and state oversight.
It makes sense why they are fighting so hard to keep their power in Florida.
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.