Monday, September 12, 2016

Third Gate Progress: The Site

This second update post about my Disneyland Resort Third Gate design process is going to give a little information about the site and its limitations.

The obvious third gate site is the current Toy Story Parking Lot and Cast Member Parking Lot located here, which sits in the block bordered by Katella Ave, Oceanwood Ave, Harbor Blvd, and Haster St.

This has been discussed as the third gate site for years, even Disney has publicly advertised this as the third gate location. They even had a domain advertising it and thanks to the Wayback Machine, we can still see it here. Their map at the bottom confirms this as the site.

They are already making moves to replace the parking here, which leads me to believe this site is still in the long term plans. The new transportation hub begins to replace the guests spots, and they have already have land to build an additional cast parking deck off site.

So this site will work. The only problem is that it is rather small compared to the two existing parks. My calculation for Disney plus its backstage areas is about 126 acres, California Adventure is 80 acres, and this site is about 73 acres. But since California Adventure shares a lot of entrance and backstage facilities that will have to be recreated at this new site, there really is a significant difference between the sizes of the parks.

But interestingly, I have seen information online that suggest that Disney owns more land around this lot than we actually know. I am referencing a post on WDWMagic by a knowledgeable member (Additional land owned by Disney in Anaheim?) that claims that Disney potentially owns multiple of the apartment complex lots surrounding their parking lot, held through anonymous third party companies. This could make a big difference.

However, that same poster suggests that there might be issues with the city that could make this lot problematic in another post (Predicting DLR in the decades to come), saying that the city has eyes on extending Gene Autry Way through the Disney owned property, potentially using eminent domain to destroy the chances of a third park. There is even an official City of Anaheim planning document that shows the road extended right through the parking lot. So that could be an issue.

My decision of how to develop the land takes into account both of these factors.

I have decided to hypothetically play nice with the city and develop a third gate theme park over and around a newly extended road, crossing the site. To me, this seems well in the scope of Disney's planning and design skill, especially if they build the road themselves in an integrated construction process, instead of hypothetically building over an already existing road.

My plan is that they build the road so that it steps down below ground level and sits in an open trench between the two halves of the park with a few large and well themed pedestrian bridges crossing the opening. These pedestrian pathways would be wide enough and disguised with architecture and theming so that guests cant even tell they are crossing traffic. Showbuildings and backstage areas would back up to the open trench in all other areas. Guests would absolutely not be able to see the traffic from the bridges and I am sure that efforts could be made to reduce sound. This is basically the same idea as the current backstage tunnel under the esplanade area, but wider and more open. Security would be the only real issue left that I can't address, so I will just have to ignore than concern for the sake of a conceptual design plan.

With this addition of the road through the site, the apartment complexes on the east side will be removed, either because Disney already owns them, or by eminent domain from the city, which would then be given to Disney in exchange for the construction of the road. That adds another 18 acres to the site. Pretty good sized addition.

I decided to make those the only apartment sites I take for the park because I didn't want to be too ambitious, and my investigations lead me to believe that Disney doesn't own the ones on the south side of the block. The south three complexes all appear to be managed by large multi property companies while the three on the east seem to be individually managed or their ownership is unclear. I doubt that if Disney owned them through a third party, that third party would be a huge multi-state company. It would be a small anonymous management group that they can control. But I will plan to consider this area as potential future expansion.

Additionally, I decided that Disney would purchase the small hotel and Avis on the north east corner of the site, just to control more unified land.

So now that is a site that is sized for a theme park and supporting facilities. And here is the site and my diagramming, plus a start at the layout. In my drawing, the open build able land, not including the road, is 86 acres and the bridges would take up about another acre. The road trench takes up the remaining 4 acres. Perfect.

I have not begun to formally plan the site, but I have started to think about it diagrammatically. In my estimation, the site will need to hold 5 elements: the theme park, a backstage facility area, an entrance facility area, a parking deck, and a hotel. It seems natural for the entrance, parking, and hotel to go on the north side and the backstage to likely go on the south side. Plus, in my transportation phases, I suggested a PeopleMover to connect my version of the transportation deck and this park, so that terminates at the north side of the lot, likely inside the parking deck.

Last, I started to think about the layout of the park, and decided to stick with the classic hub and spoke, possibly with a more defined exterior ring path connecting the lands. I have shown the start of that diagram on the site, which shows how the road dividing the site could work. This layout would basically use 6 bridges over the road (2 backstage on the west and east, and 4 in the park). I think this could work, and this is how I am going to start laying out the park.

I am in the process now of formulating an attraction line up and trying to resolve that with the site. This may take a little bit of time, but I will be back with an update on it eventually. 

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