Since its 2001 debut, the Walt Disney
Co. theme park Disney's California Adventure has floundered in the shadow of its legendary neighbor, Disneyland. To fix it, Disney is now planning a $1.1 billion overhaul -- the most extensive makeover the company has ever given to a theme park.
Disney's board recently approved the investment, which will be poured into California Adventure over roughly five years, according to people familiar with the plan. The sum is particularly significant, considering the theme park cost around $1 billion to build and Disney has already spent more than $100 million trying to improve it.
Originally aimed at luring visitors to spend more time and money at the Disneyland Resort, California Adventure has been criticized as lacking Disney's trademark creative spark. The California theme has fallen flat with visitors from the western U.S., who make up the bulk of attendance. Last year, the park drew just under six million visitors, compared with nearly 15 million at Disneyland and short of Disney's original forecast of seven million visitors a year for the new park.
Now Disney hopes to turn the park around by making it more like its successful neighbor, filled with references to company founder Walt Disney, say people familiar with the plan. A key project will be redesigning the entrance plaza, now a hodgepodge of California icons, and replacing it with something akin to Disneyland's signature Main Street.