Gov. Pete Wilson on Wednesday boosted an expansion plan that would roughly double the size of Disneyland, promising to set aside $ 60 million for improvements to make the project work.
“Orange County … is never again going to be a sleepy, quiet village. We have been discovered,” Wilson said after meeting with Disney officials and local leaders at the Disneyland Hotel.
“We need to keep pace with the kind of relentless population increase that we’ve had with economic development, with jobs,” Wilson said.
Walt Disney Co. has said it needs help from public agencies to come up with $ 750 million for capital improvements if it is to proceed with the $ 3 billion Westcot Center.
The center would bring 27,000 jobs to the region and generate $ 2.5 billion a year for the five southernmost California counties, Wilson said.
To recover from recession, “we’re going to have to see new jobs created by new ideas and services and products,” Wilson said. “This fits that definition big-time.”
The state money is already earmarked for transportation and would come from savings realized on other projects over the next two years, Wilson said.
It would go into widening ramps on Interstate 5 at Disneyland and a massive parking structure.
Opposition to a bigger Disneyland has come from local school districts, concerned the project will mean overcrowding, and from local residents worried about noise and traffic.
The city has approved the expansion, but Disney is still studying it. The company and local officials are discussing who will pay for other public works, and Disney has expressed concern about legal action by the schools.
The districts should work with the project to shape it rather than trying to stop it through litigation, Wilson said.
He looked at a scale model of the project, which envisions more hotels, public space and shopping as well as a “global village” representing four continents.