Written by Robert Niles
Published: August 18, 2004 at 9:46 PM
Too bad for Garden Grove that Walt Disney's grad students tapped Anaheim as the best site for Walt's little amusement park. Ever since, the pols and developers in Garden Grove have watched with growing envy as its neighbor to the north banked billions in tax dollars from Disneyland's tourists. But jealousy's a great motivator. So Garden Grove's crafted one plan after another to siphon tourists -- and their money -- from Anaheim.
Of course, the Walt Disney Company's been driving tourists from Anaheim for several years. Garden Grove had slated a 70-acre theme park for its International Drive West [TPI coverage], its plan from two years ago to duplicate Orlando-style fern bars, mini-golf courses and T-shirt shops along Harbor Boulevard in an effort to suck the remaining dollars from local tourists' wallets. But now that city fathers have seen how well Disney's underdeveloped park has managed to scare visitors away from the area, they have changed course and leaked plans to go after a casino resort to anchor their planned tourist corridor instead.
Look, Mickey's a world-class talent at plucking its guests. But Disney's running a lemonade stand when compared to the money-sucking power of a Las Vegas casino. No one's queuing up to borrow 10 grand from Scrooge McDuck so they can give it back betting the over on the body count at Pirates of the Caribbean. A T-shirt shop's not gonna have much to collect from Garden Grove's tourists once its casino gets through with them. Especially when Garden Grove's rumored casino partner is Vegas impresario Steve Wynn.
To quote one TPI reader, "when in Vegas, always bet on black... and always bet on Steve Wynn." A Wynn casino, typically larded with excesses like Picassos and Maserati dealerships, doesn't settle for anyone's leftovers. Not even Disneyland's. So scratch this plan as just another attempt to build a better parasite. If Garden Grove's serious, the city's aiming a billion-dollar attack on Disneyland and Anaheim's family-friendly theme park economy.
Expect left-leaning Disney CEO Michael Eisner to get very chummy with California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger if Garden Grove's plan seems even close to getting state approval. (The governor would have to okay the sale of Garden Grove land to a California Indian tribe to enable casino gambling in the city.) Neither Disney nor Anaheim would accept quietly the development of a Steve Wynn casino within blocks of their billion-dollar tourist investment.
So how will Garden Grove react? The city's been craving Anaheim's visitors for years. It seems unlikely that it would just abandon this plan once Disney and Anaheim try to apply some political heat. Who knows? Maybe Garden Grove would cut a deal. We'll drop the whole casino thing if you promise to help us get our International Drive.
Gee, you don't think maybe that was the plan all along?
Anybody wanna buy a T-shirt?