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Disney Va. park plan under fire

WASHINGTON — A new study questions Walt Disney Co.’s fiscal estimates for its proposed theme park in Haymarket, Va., saying the projections for job growth and revenues are overstated.

The study, commissioned by opponents to the park and unveiled Wednesday, said Disney’s America will create 6,300 jobs statewide, well below the 12,400 it said Disney has forecast.

Revenue and job shortfalls

It said the park, slated to open in 1998, will generate tax revenues of $ 5.6 million annually, far less than the $ 22.6 million annually estimated by the Burbank-based company.

The study, based on figures on the theme park released by Disney, also said Prince William County, home of the future park, will receive annual tax revenue of $ 1.5 million-$ 5.1 million.

This would be significantly lower than the $ 14.1 million it said Disney had forecast.

“Disney’s figures appear to be so flawed that we should treat any promises of future benefits from the company with great skepticism,” said Chris Needels, head of an opposition campaign launched by the Piedmont Environmental Council.

Disney officials were not immediately available for comment.

Mike Vanderpool, co-chair of a Disney task force formed by the local Chamber of Commerce, disagreed with the study.

“When it comes to the question of the number of jobs and revenues, it would appear to us that the best forecaster is the potential employer, which in this case would be Disney America,” he said.

Disney unveiled its plans for the theme park Nov. 11.

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