Disneyland’s $1.9-billion project is latest investment in Anaheim

Walt Disney famously said that Disneyland will never be completed. He was right.

The vote by the Anaheim City Council on Wednesday to approve the Disneyland resort’s $1.9-billion expansion plan is the latest of several huge investments made by the media giant at the 100-acre facility known to its fans as the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Once upon a time, Disneyland was just a concept that grew out of a visit by Disney to Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Then on July 17, 1955, the gates were flung open at the then-$17.5-million resort and things have never been the same for the city of Anaheim.

Ticket prices on opening day were $1 for an adult and 50 cents for a child, with each attraction charging extra at each location, ranging from 10 to 35 cents.

Over the decades, the resort has added new attractions and entire worlds built around new franchises acquired by Disney. Bear Country opened in 1972 and gave way to Critter Country in 1988 in anticipation of Splash Mountain, which eventually closed in May 2023. Splash Mountain will be reopened later this summer as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, inspired by the Disney film “The Princess and the Frog.”

In February 2001, Disneyland threw open the doors on its 55-acre California Adventure. At the time, the $1.4-billion addition opened to poor reviews, leading some visitors to dub the park “Six Flags California Adventure,” a biting comparison to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Over the years, the park added Cars Land in a $1.1-billion makeover, Pixar Pier and other locations that harked back to an era of California when red trolleys owned the streets.

In 2019, Disneyland opened its 14-acre Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a $1-billion expansion that features two rides, shops and retail outlets around the “Star Wars” movie franchise theme. Jedis and stormtroopers roam about the intergalactic city that encourages role-playing with in-character staff.

“If you want to sit back and just watch the world go by, that’s also fine, but I think one of the things that we know about our guests is they want more and more to lean into these stories,” says Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, whom Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger described on social media as the “creator” of Galaxy’s Edge.

The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride requires riders taking up different roles, with two gunners, engineers and a pair of pilots.

By June 2021, Disneyland set its sights on transporting guests to the world of the Marvel cinematic universe with its Avengers Campus. Built on the bones of A Bug’s Land, construction for the Avengers Campus was waylaid due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but eventually opened to much fanfare within California Adventure. The Orange County Business Journal estimates construction on the site cost $500 million, but the House of Mouse was mum on the official cost.

Avengers Campus boasts a Spider-Man stunt show with a robotic web-slinger who launches from one tower to another and flies 85 feet in the air. The character reappears as a costumed human who scales down the walls of the building to pose for photos with parkgoers at ground level.

Times staff writers Todd Martens and Hugo Martin contributed to this report.

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