Disneyland cancels its Eastern Gateway project, confirms fourth hotel

October 25, 2017, 2:05 PM · The Disneyland Resort has canceled its Eastern Gateway project and will not build a new parking garage between Interstate 5 and Harbor Boulevard, as previously announced.

Instead, Disney will build a new, 6,500-car parking garage on the site of the Pinocchio lot next to the Mickey and Friends parking structure. Disneyland will proceed with plans for a fourth hotel on property, but instead of taking over the current Downtown Disney surface parking lots as previously suggested, the new hotel will go up on the land now occupied by the ESPN Zone, Rainforest Cafe and AMC movie theaters. Disney announced today that the new luxury hotel will open in 2021. It will become the home of the Downtown Disney monorail station, which will be redesigned to a more "contemporary" look, to match the hotel. The monorail will not be rerouted, as it was planned to be on its eastern side under the now-defunct Eastern Gateway project.

My colleague Joseph Pimentel details the new plans on the Orange County Register's website this afternoon. Together, the moves reinforce that Disneyland "front door" is accessed via its Disneyland Drive access from Interstate 5, and from Harbor Boulevard as it was for decades. I talk about the potential effect on Harbor Boulevard in a bonus column that I wrote today for the Register.

Consider today's news the "other shoe" dropping after last week's news that Disneyland was canceling its runDisney events for 2018 and beyond due to construction at the resort. This news reveals the extent of the construction that will be coming to Disneyland. This also raises question about the future expansion of Disney California Adventure, as that park was slated to expand north into the space that Disney would have cleared by moving its tram depot across Harbor into the Eastern Gateway.

Disney still owns that land across the street, remember. And it is keeping it vacant for now. How will that affect business on Harbor?


Replies (33)

October 25, 2017 at 2:27 PM · What?? How can they close Earl of Sandwich? It's one of my favourite eateries there, and is always hugely busy!
October 25, 2017 at 2:40 PM · Wow after reading the OCR article. They will build the monorail into the new hotel. That's the game changer. No mention of how many elevators will be built for the new 6,500 parking structure. It should have more than 2 elevators for 10,000 parking spots at Mickey & Friend structure. What were they thinking? At least fix that oversight by doubling the elevators to 4 for each parking structure.

The hotel looks 1970s. Rather hideous in my opinion. Oh well. No mention how many parking spaces for the new hotel parking structure. What's the point of Downtown Disney. Cutting back on the restaurants like eliminating ESPN Zone and Rainforest Café means there's less of a reason to visit. Anyways, ESPN Zone is on the way out, but Rainforest Café has a good following. It must return, perhaps at the new hotel?

So maybe the Eastern Gateway will be shelved until who knows when. Perhaps they are waiting until the lease to the government expires and a new business friendly Anaheim City Council to proceed with new plans. Maybe another new Resort? Or Downtown Disney East? What about DCA's new Marvel Land?

October 25, 2017 at 2:53 PM · The more time I spend with this new plan, the more I am seeing it as vastly superior for visitors than what Eastern Gateway offered. It forces Disney to clean up the security screening and tram loading hot mess that it now has at M&F and DD. It should mean the end of locals crowding Downtown Disney who aren't staying at the hotels or going to the parks. And it leaves the Eastern Gateway land available for future expansion, including consolidation with other properties on Harbor, should Disney entice them to sell. Long-term, I do believe that this is going to work out better for Disney and its visitors than EG would have.

Now, for people who own businesses on Harbor? It's getting to be time to decide when to sell to Disney and take the deal it offers.

October 25, 2017 at 3:00 PM · I'm curious to know how this will impact expansion plans now for DCA. I think lots of folks had assumed the park was going to grow into the area vacated by the removal of the bus drop off area.
October 25, 2017 at 3:23 PM · The tram loading "hot mess" will remain unfortunately with 70% more people. Either install moving walkways or automated people movers on rails where most people will stand. This is a common feature at airports. The people mover is just a 10 minute ride. The long tram loading is the horrible part of the current experience.

The moving walkways will only have to get people into the Downtown Disney area where they will walk the rest of the way into Disneyland.

Consider having an alternative exit near Critter Country or Star Wars Land. That'll cut down the walking hoard of people after fireworks or Fantasmic shows.

October 25, 2017 at 3:27 PM · At least Disney should build a permanent tram plaza and security checks at the parking garages. What they have now clearly shows that they were intended as temporary.
October 25, 2017 at 3:33 PM · I will hate to lose Earl. It's what always gets us to walk through DTD. Although I'm not personally a huge fan, I'm also shocked that RFC is going away as well. What a loss to that end of the resort.
October 25, 2017 at 3:34 PM · I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Disney's business decisions are aimed squarely at hurting the pockets of nearby businesses. Giving them little choice but to sell. Disneyland's one mjor sore point is its inability to expand, which is due to lack of space. The only solution is to purchase more land, and that means people need to sell. Disney is putting the heat on in any way they can think of to get more land for projects.

Smart. Too bad for the little guys, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

October 25, 2017 at 3:38 PM · I'm actually glad those restaurants are going away. All three are mediocre, especially the Rainforest Cafe. It's Denny's/ TGIF/ Applebee's food with animatronics and an aquarium. And same with the movie theater... you're at the Disneyland Resort. So much more to do in the area than watch a movie.

Hopefully they figure out how to get the Run Disney events back up by 2019 though. But yeah, I agree that Disney's gotta do what they gotta do. It's an entertainment business after all... not a charity or a museum.

October 25, 2017 at 4:42 PM · Yeah, be careful what you wish for. Disney's going to knock those Harbor Blvd business off one-by-one. Those owner's better get the coin while they can because if you're the last man standing and that Eastern entrance gets closed off, "you're burned".
October 25, 2017 at 4:49 PM · FYI, Robert - website is acting funky?
October 25, 2017 at 5:11 PM · There was a database reboot just as you were posting your comment, so it appears to have looped. I deleted the dupes and it looks like things are better.
October 25, 2017 at 5:30 PM · Maybe the security hot mess was the short term solution knowing that a more complete redesign was coming with a move of the parking structure.
October 25, 2017 at 6:09 PM · OK, as an Anaheim Homeowner, the current city council is toxic and can't work with each other.

The Eastern Gateway is not dead.

Once the city council changes, and there are elections in November of 2018, we will have a New Mayor, and hopefully a majority that will work together and stop playing identity politics.

Disney still has major parking problems, and not just theme park guests, but also Hotel and DtD guests, plus all the CM's and employees that will support the Galaxy Edge expansion, and all the other new projects.

So you might see the bridge, security check and transportation hub built first to allow for DCA expansion, then when the USCIS lease expires, a Pummba Structure built for guests. this would allow Disney to convert the Toy Story lot to CM use (aka expand the Katella CM lot). This would eliminate the need for trams, as all the structure will be next to a security check and Resort property. (No way will the current M&F Tram remain, as it can't handle the current peak times. Add Galaxy Edge and DCA expansion on one side, and the new Pinocchio Structure on the other, and you will end up with a themed walkway and DtD expansion as a replacement.

October 25, 2017 at 6:23 PM · I have long said the original parking plan was moronic when there is so much wasted space around the hotels. This resort simply can no longer work with a single-level parking lot. Furthermore, what this resort needs is a Value Hotel. That no-man's-land out in the east is perfect for that. Who cares if the people staying there have to do a little hoofing? They won't be paying enough for a monorail experience. Plus, that would end the problems the neighboring businesses have with Disney trying to keep all its visitors from ever looking at non-Disney properties.

In fact, Disney is being horrifyingly dumb in not building a Value Hotel RIGHT NOW. They could build a tall one to the east because it wouldn't affect sightlines. They could definitely shove more people into that than they can into this new thing they are proposing. The TDA babies need to get over their little tantrum over not getting every single little thing they want and realize that the people staying on Harbor ARE ALSO THEIR GUESTS. Why is it that only the Anaheim City Council cares about them? Harbor NEEDS a Vegas-style elevated walkway for EVERYONE VISITING THE PARKS, YOU IDIOTS.

Keep the Eastern Gateway. Modify it so it doesn't annoy the neighbors LIKE YOU KNEW IT WOULD. Build a Value Hotel. Do it and stop the bellyaching. Honestly!

October 25, 2017 at 6:33 PM · David: Will CMs walk through GardenWalk to get through security? That’s a long walk.

I can’t help thinking the former Eastern Gateway could be a new resort and Downtown Disney East and Toy Story lot can be the third park. This ultimately means add a third massive parking structure south of the hotels, replace Paradise Pier Hotel, and build a new CM parking structure at other lots.

October 25, 2017 at 7:24 PM · This feels like a quick fix to increase parking capacity before Star Wars opens. However, it is going to make accessing the resort more difficult (especially for those coming from the south), and until construction is complete it will make parking at Mickey and Friends worse. Additionally, the amount of extra visitors will easily overwhelm the tram system unless additional transportation options are added. Perhaps Disney will consider adding a much smaller version of the gondola going into Walt Disney World...I bet that would more than double the transport capacity from the garages. I'm glad Disney is doing something to help fix the resort, but this just feels like a rushed project that will create more problems without modifying other things as well.

As for the Eastern Gateway, I'm betting that is merely shelved rather than dead. I wouldn't be surprised to see that project resurface once the resort starts ramping up for the 70th anniversary and/or the 2028 Olympics.

October 25, 2017 at 8:22 PM · If you look at the Eastern Gateway Bridge, its width was designed to handle 12,000 guests per hour (peak), that is the current Eastern Hotels/motels walk ups, the Shuttle and buses, plus the 6,000 parking spaces.

With M&F 10,000 spaces, plus the new 6,000, you are looking at needing to handle 20,000 guests in a hour, such as at opening, or after the fireworks. I know of no current type of transportation that could handle that volume, and also not breakdown. This was a main reason Disney went with walking only, and is the only real solution here. So the goal is to add things to take your mind off the walk, so themed walkways with shops and restaurants work, just like at other major transit centers.

October 25, 2017 at 9:07 PM · David: I was asking you about what you said here “this would allow Disney to convert the Toy Story lot to CM use (aka expand the Katella CM lot). This would eliminate the need for trams,”

What about the trams for the CMs at the Toy Story lot? Anyways, no trams are used there. They use shuttle buses.

October 25, 2017 at 11:35 PM · Well, I was using the term tram in a generic sense, the Toy Story shuttles are actually OCTA Buses on loan to ART, which operates Rote 20 for Disney, who picks up the tab. The point is that all guests will walk from guest parking to the parks. the CM's will still use the Shuttle Buses run by Empire Transportation.

Of course, since the vehicles use public roads, they must be street legal.

October 26, 2017 at 10:27 AM · ...............so..............is Marvel Land still a complete green light as of now?
October 26, 2017 at 11:31 AM · In addition to the new parking structure next to the Mickey and Friends there appears to be a new parking structure planned for Simba Parking Lot behind Pixar Hotel er.. excuse me Paradise Pier Hotel.

I think this is actually an improvement over the original plans. It was never really clear to me how people would get between the freeway and the eastern parking structure. It seemed like a potentially big mess without dedicated lanes.

The only problem now is that it still doesn't address the shuttle bus plaza and eastern gate mess.

But I suppose now Disneyland will expand the surface Pumbaa lot. Why can't they still relocate the shuttle bus plaza, replace the Camelot Inn with a level pedestrian walkway and move the security plaza out closer to Harbor Blvd? That way there would still be room for DCA expansion.

October 26, 2017 at 11:33 AM · Man, if only Disney had a department of employees already thinking about all these things. Wait...
October 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM · Robert and everyone else would would like to comment.
Doesn't it makes sense, that the harbor hotels and restaurants won't have too much of a difference in business? For someone staying there, it means 20 min on the tourist bus, to get to a disney entrance. Really, the same as parking have been putting up with for 10 or 15 years walk from their car and ride the mickey and friends tram.

What am i missing?

October 26, 2017 at 12:04 PM · Well my prior comment holds, up to the point where disney gets enough political clout with the county, to get the county to do eminet domain on the harbor private businesses and buy them out in an arbitration that way.

the county closing harbor blvd for the two blocks around disney, would accompany that. leaving tons of room for future expansion. even a hotel inside a disney park. they have though of that before. believe me.I've heard tony baxter mention it

October 26, 2017 at 2:05 PM · Interesting to note, why did the Orange County Register and its related companies, Southern California News Group/Digital First get a series of articles (including one by Robert Niles) and placed it as the top story (Top of the Front Page) in Today's print edition, while today's LA Times print edition had no mention of it.

Looks like Disney didn't like the Fair Share hit piece, and now is off the preferred media list.


>>Resort representatives didn’t immediately respond to a call and email from the Los Angeles Times but have confirmed to other news outlets that the Eastern Gateway project has been put on hold. The project would have included 6,800 parking spaces plus driveways where taxis, buses and shuttles could drop off park visitors.<<

October 26, 2017 at 3:58 PM · I don't see any conspiracy. The OCR always reports more of the going ons at Disneyland more than the Times.
October 26, 2017 at 4:05 PM · davedisney: Eminent domain? REALLY? So Orange County would screw over dozens of small businesses for one large one? And that's a GOOD thing to you? That is horrific.

David: Hit piece? That's hilarious. The LA Times pointed out that Anaheim paid $108M to build Disneyland's parking garage and it actually owns the garage. Disney reaps $35-70 MILLION from that garage annually. Anaheim gets $1. Apparently now telling the truth is considered a "hit piece".

Disney is throwing a hissy fit because it spent millions trying to buy the City Council with pro-Disney politicians. And two anti-Disney people still won! That tells me that it's not just the City Council and the LA Times that thinks Disney isn't paying its "fair share".

October 26, 2017 at 5:29 PM · Well, The LA Times states that Disney did not return phone calls and e-mails.

The LA Times did a major Front Page Sunday edition of articles focusing on the "fair Share" issue. That is as big as it gets in reporting.

The LA Times has a special website on Theme Parks with multiple reporters. (one of which attended my wedding as a guest).


Both the LA Times and OC Register have covered Disneyland and Knotts on a regular basis. The LA Times sells papers in Orange County, including daily delivery.

The move was deliberate, and while no official reason will be stated, it is clear that the "hit piece" has changed the relationship between the paper and Disney.

October 27, 2017 at 1:47 PM · To be blunt, the LA Times story missed the point. Corporations move into towns with larger populations than Anaheim, They arrive with big promises, significant tax breaks and incentives and often leave far short of the principle agreements and in their wake they leave acres of depressed properties and ZERO long term contributions to the tax base.

Then the City is left find ways to tear down those properties at their cost or find developers with enough insight or vision to turn those properties into something. (Mostly for smaller tax paying businesses that have to make their business models work and pay taxes)

When I would travel to Tucson to hike, explore, or catch some Spring Training games, many pensioners would recount the days of what they called "IBM City" and all the infrastructure including a major vehicular artery going to it's center. Today IBM city is nothing more then sad stories that I here from time to time about people that acquired land or properties or bought town home investments that they lost because one one goes to Tucson anymore. They don't even have Spring Training.

Anaheim has a a lucrative tourist market that provides taxes from food, hotels and sales taxes. This exceeds far more than you would see from any other enterprise. They don't leave their property, they reinvest in it. Disney (as the times article actually pointed out) pay for the Police and Fire and they have their own police force. When the economy turned down, they worked with the City and invested in new infrastructure and attractions. Disney's philanthropy has been prominent in Anaheim and only poor leadership would paint them as the town bully.

Disney owes the businesses of Harbor Blvd. nothing. Disney is "land locked" in large part and without finding innovative ways to expand within their existing real estate, they won't need tax breaks because they will have no available land on which to build.

Without Disney Anaheim would just be another suburbia. I would close off the pedestrian entrance to Harbor and relocate the bus transit hub. The businesses deserve that. They didn't bite the hand that feeds them, they cut it off.

October 27, 2017 at 2:03 PM · Interesting article from the Anaheim Blog.


>>Miller’s implied claim betrays an embarrassing level of ignorance about how development works. Think about it: Miller is saying that in the 30 days since his articles appeared, Disney was able to whip up a ready-to-go development plan that integrates a new, cutting-edge 4-Diamond hotel with its other three Anaheim hotel properties (the Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian and Paradise Pier) plus a new 6,500 space parking structure.

Anyone with a passing understanding of development and all the studies, plans, etc., a project of this scale would involve, knows that what Miller is claiming is impossible.<<

October 27, 2017 at 8:20 PM · sounds like another reporter (of hundreds), who has delusions of grander and very wrongly thinks a journalists job is to change people's minds.

The journalist job, was the exact opposite for about a thousand years. Journalists like these is why the profession, has an even lower trust rating than politicians.

David Micheal's cheerleading of a self described hit piece, is disturbing. The definition of a hit piece, is that the reporting was biased.

October 31, 2017 at 1:49 PM · Robert,

Great article in the OC Register today! How do you come up with all this stuff? The Avengers tower hotel... I am kicking myself for not thinking of that. A northbound exit that went into an eastern parking structure would have been great.

Isn't there a way to keep park hoppers and 1 day visitors in separate monorail cars with separate queues?

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