Ana-crime, California. Home of beloved Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Oh, wait… I mean Anaheim. Sorry. Sorry about that.
The Disney organization is trying to get a third gate open at their Anaheim property. This has long been a plan but nothing has come to fruition. I remember back in the day before Disney’s California Adventure even opened, there was talk of a third park at the location.
Before Disney’s California Adventure was even on the table they had plans for West-Cot, imported from Florida. There was talk of another park on top of that, too. But where?
It’s not like they are surrounded by acres of empty land, just begging to be developed.
Yet, for decades, Disney has wanted to add to the property and make Disneyland Resorts into a real rival for Disney World Resorts.
The proposed gate would not be purchased from landowners around the current property. Rather it would be existing land from the current property near the Disneyland and Paradise Pier Hotels along with the unused portions of Downtown Disney such as the ESPN Zone restaurant, the AMC theater building, and the wider area that has been abandoned by retailers.
This means my favorite bookstore in that area, complete with a coffee shop, that made the best almond latte around, has gone. Such is the price of progress.
How would this come to pass? Just recently Disney had pulled out of making another hotel on their property because of the city’s behavior? Disney and the city of Anaheim have had a long tradition of push and pull.
The last time the Anaheim resort tried to push and expand, the corporation was asking for city funds to help the expansion and the city (rightfully) said no to that. Then a pandemic happened and the parks were shut down for a year or more, and the city of Anaheim lost $100 million in related revenue.
So now both parties want to make this work. The idea is to have a mixed-use area letting hotels, shopping, and theme parks all intertwine. The city would help provide permits. In return, the Disney corporation would help with affordable housing, workforce development, community outreach, and has pledged to provide thousands of union jobs. They would also pursue environmentally-friendly practices.
So what would the third gate look like? Well… small. On the map, it looks smaller than Fantasyland.
It seems to be centered around a mountain with a lagoon. What could this be? We don’t know. Details on the plans are light at the moment. It’s all part of an umbrella initiative called DisneylandForward.
In all reality, the West coast parks will never be as big as other Disney parks around the world. California real estate is just too expensive for that to happen. However, there is a charm to the Anaheim parks that make it feel cosy.
Do we need the third gate? That’s debatable. The second gate was a failure when it first opened It was a disappointment due to last-minute budget cuts. It took over a decade to become a destination in its own right rather than a park hop in a day. Then you consider Disney just taking away the annual pass program, which further limits people’s ability to come to the park from the area.
With no signs of ticket prices going down and no annual pass programs, there is a risk of alienating locals. Those locals are a big moneymaker for Disney in California, way more so than in Florida. If you price out locals then will the third gate really be that big of a draw?
I am a die-hard Disney fan and think Galaxy’s Edge is a failure and can’t get too excited about Avengers Campus, despite being a big Marvel geek. I feel like the parks are no longer a draw but would rather spend my time and money on the Disney cruise ships. Maybe it’s my age, but they feel like better value these days.
I worry that under current management, with Iger and Rodhe, the park will be done on the cheap. They will nickel and dime park-goers versus giving them a real experience. We have seen this happen before when visionary leadership departs.
I love Disney, and I have great memories of Disney’s California Adventure. The Robert Mondavi Winery attraction was amazing. I had my first legal drink, a lemon drop martini, at the Cove Bar in that park. But my experience tells me that the lack of cohesive vision, combined with cutting corners, is dangerous to Disney whenever they do it. It happened at the start with Disney’s California Adventure and this has the same feel about it.
Should Disney leave the parks in California as they are? Should we get a West-Cot? Or should they move on and have other smaller parks in different parts of the country?
One old Disney idea that is a favorite of mine was a giant boat that moved from port-to-port that had smaller versions of Disney rides. So it was like a miniature park that would travel to a different port every year. With the expansion of the Panama Canal, it becomes feasible. Maybe they should dust off that idea?