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Eisner Urges Government Aid to Expand Disneyland

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Disney Chairman Michael D. Eisner told a county audience Wednesday night that a public/private partnership was essential to developing the $3-billion expansion at Disneyland.

“The project we have proposed in Anaheim is much more ambitious than anything we have ever undertaken,” Eisner said.

“Working closely with the city of Anaheim, we want to transform the urban clutter around Disneyland into a lushly landscaped, pedestrian-oriented garden district,” he said.

Eisner referred to the development of Euro Disney Resort in France as a good example of how the private sector and governments can work together “for their mutual benefit.”

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He also cautioned, however, that the project was tremendously expensive.

Eisner’s comments came as he delivered a speech titled “U.S. Entertainment: Reaching Out to the World” before about 700 people at the World Affairs Council of Orange County held at the Disneyland Hotel.

Eisner, who rarely makes public appearances, echoed the concerns of other high-ranking Walt Disney Co. officials, who had been saying that a commitment to the project is still in jeopardy because the economics are marginal.

As planned, the expansion would include three new hotels with 5,600 rooms; a second theme park called Westcot Center; a 5,000-seat amphitheater; a retail district ringing a six-acre lake, and lush pedestrian walkways throughout.

Because Disney is attempting to build the project in an existing urban environment, the cost has skyrocketed. Disney officials say that developing in Anaheim as opposed to a place with more open space will cost at least $1 billion more.

A large portion of the expense will go toward revitalizing already stressed public works projects such as street widening and sewer-line expansion. The project would also require the hiring of additional police officers and acquisition of new firefighting equipment.

Disney officials have reportedly asked for public support for about $1 billion in public improvements.

In addition to the economics, the Disney expansion project is contingent on the acceptance of a recently released environmental impact report detailing certain problems of development.

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According to the report, which is mandated by law, the project would clog traffic during construction, add thousands of cars to local freeways, worsen air quality and overburden current public works.

Disney officials say most of the significant impacts would be mitigated and the project would create thousands of jobs, boost the local economy and revitalize Anaheim’s old infrastructure.


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