In what has been the worst kept secret among Disneyland fans, today the Walt Disney Company’s Disneyland Resort will announce major plans to overhaul its under-performing and poorly conceived second Gate – California Adventure. Over the next 5-7 years, the company will spend more than $1.1 billion to bring the park up to standards closer to its neighbor and the crown jewel of the domestic theme parks, Disneyland.
A lot of this money will be spent on bringing in some new attractions to broaden the park’s appeal and increase it’s capacity. There will also be some entertainment infrastructure improvements, including a new night time water show that is rumored to make the Las Vegas’ Bellagio water show look like a bathtub jacuzzi. But a significant portion of the funds are reserved for re-theming large swaths of the park and adding an overlay of rich details and backstory that Disney Imagineering had been famous for before the latest string of ‘cheapquels’ infected Disney’s theme parks from the movie division. I’m hoping they’ll also come up with a new name for the park that actually gives the park some purpose and theme.
While the original expansion of the Disneyland Resort to include a second gate cost $1.4 billion, some of that was absorbed by the city of Anaheim for resort improvements and the parking garage. The resort added the Grand Californian Hotel and Downtown Disney and did some improvements backstage and across the grounds. So the final total spent on the second gate itself was around $700 million. As Disney fans warned early on in the project, it would cost more to fix the park than it would have to just build it right the first time, now with an additional $1.1 billion on top of the money that has already been spent on the park (TOT, Monster’s Inc, etc), our predictions have come true. Let’s hope they’re committed to getting it right this time and doing whatever it takes to make it so.
I look forward to Bob Iger’s announcement today and whatever details are revealed. I’m sure he’s going to frame it as a positive expansion, and I don’t blame him. But read between the lines with me and we’ll go over this in great detail in the days to come. (Link to LA Times story)
Update: here’s the WSJ.com story that "broke the story" for MSM. Some interesting admissions from Jay Rasulo.