Almost a decade ago, the Disney Co. did nearly everything it could to stop the GardenWalk mall from being built, denigrating it as a tacky, traffic-snarling eyesore. Now that the upscale outdoor mall is on the verge of opening, it appears Disney wants a piece of the action.
The entertainment giant plans to operate two hotels in the massive Katella Avenue project across the street from Disney's planned third park and near California Adventure, according to a Disney insider and another source familiar with the project.
Bill Stone, GardenWalk's developer, would not confirm or deny the report.
"Times have changed, Disney has changed, its management has changed," said Stone, a San Diego-based developer who has been involved with the project since 1999. "They once viewed us as competition. But we really do complement each other."
Al Lutz of the fan website MiceAge.com reported Tuesday that two of the four new hotels Disney plans in the Anaheim Resort District would be in GardenWalk. He wrote that one would be a moderately priced "family hotel" with rooms having themes including Disney or Pixar characters. The other would be smaller and more luxurious, similar to a "big city W Hotel," Lutz wrote. The hotels would have a total of 866 rooms.