Two options for the transportation problem that's keeping a third park from Disneyland Resort
Several weeks ago, Disney CEO Bob Iger made his annual declaration to investors that the company would begin to scale back its capital spending on theme parks. I called BS on that at the time, and today Al Lutz provided more detail on the next wave of big new projects
under consideration for the Disneyland Resort.
With Cars Land's success, a big new project at Disneyland is in the bag. The only questions now are what, and where? The two potential answers for the "where" question are in Frontierland - in the space behind Thunder Mountain where the barbecue and festival arena stand - and in Tomorrowland - which would displace Innovations, part or all of Autopia, and possibly the Finding Nemo submarine ride.
Here's the aerial view of Disneyland. You find the space for a major new theme park attraction. (Click for the Google Maps page.)
The problem with the Tomorrowland site is the monorail track, which would prevent whatever project goes in there from having clean vertical space unless the monorail were rerouted - which Disneyland didn't do for California Adventure, Buena Vista Street, or Downtown Disney, so don't bet on that happening anytime soon.
But Disney's learned the Big Lesson of Cars Land and Harry Potter, which is that if you spend big bucks on creating a well-detailed and immersive, themed environment, people pay you way more in return to visit it. Disney's not going to leave theme park fans' money on the table. It will identify a franchise to develop and, based on which of those two sites provides a better thematic fit, will proceed with building it, starting within the next couple of years.
Beyond that, many people in Disney are convinced that Disneyland can support a third theme park. But don't expect construction on that to start anytime soon.
Nothing's going to happen beyond the new land or mini-land at Disneyland until the resort addresses its major transportation issue. Disney faces a huge barrier to additional expansion at the resort - the lack of space to park additional vehicles and the road access to get those cars into and out of resort property. Disney's big problem is that too many of its visitors are driving to the parks alone. They're annual passholders dropping in for the day, perhaps meeting other APers at the park. This isn't Orlando's crowd, where entire families fill the majority of cars through the tollbooths.
It's too bad for Disney that Orange County's decided to spend its transportation dollars on expanding freeways instead of building a rail system, as neighboring Los Angeles County is doing. Disney's two other two-park resorts - Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland - have local transit train stations on property, connecting those resorts to the regions' mass-transit systems. Imagine if those old LA-area Red Cars weren't just an attraction on Buena Vista Street, but if their successors were around today to bring individuals from around Southern California to the Disneyland Resort.
There is a Metrolink line that runs near the Disneyland Resort, but its nearest stop is the Anaheim Stadium parking lot. And those Metrolink trains are scheduled to serve 9-5/Monday-Friday commuters, not tourists. Even if you could get a bus to take you from Disneyland to the station, there'd be no train coming until the next morning if you tried to use it to get home at the end of your Disneyland day.
That leaves Disneyland dependent upon cars and buses to bring people to the resort. But even if Disney spent the money to build additional parking garages to accommodate more cars, it would still face the challenge of getting those cars into and out of the resort via Interstate 5 and Anaheim's surface streets, which are often gridlocked when the parks reach their current capacity. Just imagine how bad they'd be with a third theme park.
If Disney's going to add a third theme park in Anaheim (or a fourth hotel, or an expanded Downtown Disney) it's simply got to find a way to increase the number of guests for every car that parks at the resort. Here are two options:
Option 1: Bring Disney's Magical Express to Anaheim
I have no idea how many people typically fly into the Los Angeles or Orange County airports each week on a Disneyland vacation package. But it's conceivable that some of those guests would opt not to rent a car - and take space in a Disneyland Resort parking lot - if Disney provided a free coach to take them to their hotel instead. Just like they can choose in Orlando.
As Disney mulls additional hotels and attractions in Anaheim, the lure of saving several hundred parking spaces daily might be enough to convince the company to start Magical Express on the west coast, especially if it helps sell additional vacation packages to would-be visitors apprehensive about driving in Southern California traffic. Again, it all comes down to the numbers. If Magical Express only keeps a few dozen rental cars out of the Disneyland hotel and theme park lots, it wouldn't be worth the expense. But several hundred? (I assume that if out-of-market Disneyland guests were taking up more than a thousand spaces in resort lots on a daily basis, Disney would be doing this already.)
Option 2: Restrict the parking benefit on Annual Passports to cars carrying two or more guests
If Disney really wants to get serious about increasing the ratio of guests to cars on property, this is the step to take, despite the wailing it'd provoke on Disney fan sites.
Got someone with you in the car? Fine, you get your free parking. Driving in by yourself? That'll be $15, please, no matter if you have a Premium AP or a parking add-on on another pass. If Disney wants to add a spoonful of sugar to help that medicine go down, it could offer free parking to any annual passholder with four or more people in a vehicle, even if they haven't bought the parking pass.
This move would encourage some Disneyland fans to carpool to the park, and might encourage some others to visit less often or to drop their annual pass. Either way, the visitor-to-car ratio would go up, as Disneyland needs.
Got any other ideas? I'm sure that some frustrated Disney executives in Anaheim and Burbank would love to hear 'em.
It is nice to have a post to discuss the situation, but your examples does absolutely nothing to resolve the problem. Carpooling is fine, but Disney will still have tons of single drivers. If they couldn't convince their own employees to drive in a carpool, why expect their customers to behave this way?
Removing Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage for a new attraction?! That ride is barely five years old. Autopia is an original opening day attration as well. Unless Disney has some big attraction(I'm talking Avengers here) planned than that seems a bit extreme. Frontierland seems to be the place.
This is a tough one. Disney did just open attractions based on Cars Land in an part of the country that relies on their cars. But, Disneyland Resort is a local park instead of a vacation destination. It has a parking area like Magic Mountain and Knott's that guests can either take a tram or walk. (Does Knott's even have a tram? I've always walked from parking)
Interesting how if you look at the satellite map where toon town is, now if you look directly to its parallel position on the west side of disneyland you see a backstage area that is exactly the same size and shape of the toon town area(this is out of view in the provided picture). There's plenty of room in the thunder ranch area for a major attraction but if you included this toon town sized area directly north of thunder ranch you now have a massive area for several attractions or show buildings. I'm hoping for western river expedition myself but I doubt they'll build that because of grizzly river run in DCA is a similar ride.
Remember that Disney by the sea was originally to be built in Long Beach so the multiple parks is not a new idea. Don't they own the former farm land behind the neighboring hotels? This could be prime territory for new lands that could be linked with trams or better yet the Monorail.
Robert, no doubt you have more insight on park developments than we readers do, but I am not so sure I buy into these ideas.
Rather ironic since we just debated/voted on the resort size issue. I would rather deal with a little extra well manicured roads than no parking
They need to fix Tomorrowland (Rocket rods and old Astro Orbitor) Then add more to DCA.
@AnonMouse...is DCA still a fiasco? Don't think so.
Disney already has a plan to build a new parking garage on the land that currently holds a surface lot and a US Customs building that is behind Garden Walk on Disney Way. I heard that the plan was put on hold for some reason, but I'm sure that Disney can re-ignite that plan if they need to.
@Jason Jackson. I was referring to when DCA opened as a half day park for many many years. Obviously, not today. Not sure why I need to explain it to you. When they open a third park, they should not open it as a half finished park. The visitors will revolt and expect to park hop, which will worsen traffic in Anaheim.
The monorail, PeopleMover and Anaheim streetcar are all great proposals - but insanely expensive ones that will take a decade or more to implement, slowing development of a third park. Ultimately, I'd love to see Disney work with Anaheim and Orange County on getting a street car line into the Disneyland Resort, then supplementing with a monorail/PeopleMover system to bring people in from parking garages to the parks.
Disney can build the third park in the current CM parking lot off Katella, across the street from Garden Walk (north) and the Convention Center (west).
I'm no engineer but looking at the bird's eye, they should have bought the land that that failing Gardenwalk sits on and built new parking structures and worked with the city/state to use Disney Way as a dedicated exit off the 5 that feeds directly into the lot across Disney Way (in and out) as a feed to the new structures across the street (up and over).
I know that the monorail system costs around a million per mile to construct, but what does the people mover system cost?
It's a shame that Disney didn't fight for some of the old El Toro Base/New OC Great Park property. To me it seemed like an absolutely perfect place to put one or even possibly 2 Disney parks comfortably with space to park as well. Perhaps even another hotel to accommodate the area. If it was linked via monorail or bus it would be a short 10-15 minute ride to the Disneyland area proper.
Intersting commentary on the tansportation issue; from my point of view the idea of a rail way type of transport would be great except by the time I ride the trains and buses I've taken 3.5 hours to get to Disneyland and spent 35.00 with all of those "station passes" that Metrolink can charge (can being the operative word the "station" charges are rarely inforced). I do like the idea of the free parking for APs with packed cars (4+) since I have only gone to DLR by myself only once and that was for a conference at the hotel; it ended early enough for me to enjoy some time in the park. I've always gone with friends, family or just my husband; its not as fun by myself and I have a terrible time finding folks I intend to meet there anyway.
The subject of transportation is an interesting one. In fact, there was an artical in the OC Register about a proposed street car line that would link the Anaheim Metrolink station to the Disneyland Resort and beyond.
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