There's been a lot of talk lately about the need for a third park in Anaheim to alleviate the overcrowding at Disneyland. But some people have pointed to various reason why that is unlikely to happen. And a lot of it revolves around the company's international focus and space limitations in Anaheim. So it got me thinking about what possible options there might be to get a third gate in California?
What if Disney built a third and resort not in Anaheim by at the Great Park in Irvine instead? The Great Park is a little over 16 miles from Disneyland (about a 1/2 hour in traffic). By comparison it's little over 15 miles from the Magic Kingdom to Universal Studios Florida. And it's 27 miles from Disneyland to the once proposed Port Disney in Long Beach. From the John Wayne Airport to the Great Park is a little over 9 miles but 14 miles to Disneyland. By comparison it's 17 miles from the Orlando Airport to Disney World.
The Great Park has lots of open land on which to build a full-scale resort and the Irvine train station (Amtrak/Metrolink) is right next to the site. Since the Great Park been fraught with financial mismanagement and has been struggling to get off the ground I was thinking it could be a solution to both Orange County and the City of Irvine's problem with the Great Park and Disney's problem with Anaheim.
Disney would still maintain their parks in Anaheim but have a third gate and a number of Disney-owned hotel rooms in Irvine. If they built just one fully-loaded theme park at the Great Park in Irvine they could conceivably more than double the current attendance of their California parks. And in Irvine they would have maximum control over the hotel and retail business and finally have an extended-stay resort on the West Coast, just as they do at WDW on the East. People could experience the "Disney bubble" without having to put up with the Florida humidity and bugs.
But of course even if you got Irvine and Orange County to go along with the scheme it would probably cost around 5 billion dollars to build a new theme park, hotels, etc. That's a lot of dough. Knowing their focus is all on Shanghai Disneyland now and in the foreseeable future, in all likelihood the Walt Disney Company either can't afford to finance such a venture or would be unwilling to do so. But what if the Irvine resort was built by a separate public company of which a percent of its stock would be held by The Walt Disney Company? This would minimize the construction cost and risks to the company. The initial financing for the venture could come from multiple sources, but basically from a syndicated loan and public stock offerings. The county and the city would provide the land to the company and use some of the $1.1 billion approved by the voters of Orange County for the Great Park to help build the public infrastructure. In return Disney could agree to maintain and even help develop some of the features in the park's plan, keeping a good deal of it open to the general public.
I know it's a blue sky dream, but hey Disneyland started out that way too. If Europeans can start a petition drive to "Save Disneyland Paris," when it's still basically a financially unsuccessful resort, why can't we start one to get a third gate in California to help with the overcrowding of a highly successful one? OK tear it apart and tell me what you think?