ABC 10 | San Diego City Council approves religious resort; Plans include Disney-like ride

An evangelist’s vision of building a religious-themed resort in San Diego took a major step forward on Tuesday.

The San Diego City Council approved the Legacy International Center on the 18-acre site of the former Mission Valley Resort in Hotel Circle. The plan passed by a 7-2 vote, according to City News Service, which included an environmental impact report and development permit and amendments to zoning plans.

San Diego-based Morris Cerullo World Evangelism’s $180 million project is set to include a 40,000 square foot legacy vision center, with a main attraction being a 56-foot dome screen motion ride inspired by Disney’s Soarin’ over the World.

Jim Penner, executive director of the Legacy Center Foundation, said the group hired former Disney Imagineers to design a ride where you soar over Israel.

“It’s literally hang gliding the entire nation of Israel, where you can see the Jordan River and Jerusalem, and the Dead Sea and the Wailing Wall, and all of these great, iconic places that a lot of people will never get to visit,” he said.

The plan also includes a 127-room luxury hotel, and a ministry training facility and conference center.

The City Council failed to do approve the plan last month due to concerns over environmental impacts like traffic.

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, who heads San Diego Democrats for Equality, said his group believes the city should be focused on building more housing, not tourist attractions and convention centers.

Penner noted that traffic impacts would be minimal, and that Hotel Circle South would be widened.

The city could still require traffic monitoring for three years after the center opens but a staff report says the technical design issues have been resolved and recommends approval.

The center is slated to open October 2019.

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