Anthony Tomassi......On Westcot
You have already read Tony Baxter's thorough discussion of the layout of the park....and how the
Disney company envisioned the parks fitting in to the layout of Disneyland.
The idea for Westcot was kicked around starting around the late eighties or early ninties. The
company always knew they wanted another park there, or, at least rumors existed to that extent,
and as such people became very interested when the idea of Westcot came out. It would be a newer,
better, and much more visionary of Disney's Epcot Center theme park in Florida. It would be the
ultimate Disney theme park.......but in retrospect, perhaps that was the parks greatest problem.
The initial announcement that the park would be built came around 1993, at a time when Disneyland
visitors numbers were sagging, and the company was searching for ways to boost attendance. The
purchase of the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose, and their placement in Long Beach California did
little to help Disney, and the answer became seemingly increasingly clear that another theme
park was needed, either in Anaheim or in Long Beach. Anaheim seemed the natural site, simply
because of its location near Disneyland....and the synergy the two parks could create together.
Westcot was envisioned to be a big park placed in a little space.......470 acres to be exact. It
therefore featured second level structures, indoor structures, and the like. The total cost
to build Westcot Center was estimated to be around three billion dollars....but if the plans
Baxter discussed ever came into being, it would seem that the project would have costed much,
much more. Part of the concern, according to Business Week article dated June 21, 1993, was that
the new park would put an environmental strain on the anaheim area, and raise protests much like
those seen at the Paris park after it first opened. To over come this, the company made many
structural changes...and constantly kept the project plans in flux, making over 225 structural
changes to the original plans when the Business Week article was written in 1993. The fact that
this was permitted to occur signified the grandiose design of Westcot. If you think about it
for a second, the company made changes to structures on more than every two acres of land for
the park. That is a lot of changes to be made simply for environmental reasons. The project
was rapidly spiraling out of control....and the company, sadly, didn't even realize it.
What Disney was forgetting was that part of Epcot Center's flair was the fact that it had wide open
spaces in between of the pavillions....with multiple benches, and pathways, and small little
gardens. Looking at Baxter's review of the plans, one realizes that this park would never have
been Epcot Center, even if it did have similar rides. Some of us might say that that would have
been Westcot's greatest advantage.....but I believe that, given a few years, based on the modern
day policies of Walt Disney Attractions, this park would have suffered replacement of attractions
deemed less popular.......or, even worse the replacement of those attractions before they could even
be built. It would have been a sad day in Disney history to see a Westcot....the park based around
Disney's original vision for the future.......without that Disney touch that Epcot at least once had
at one time or another.
By 1994, poor returns on the EuroDisney's first year of operation, and poor home revenues caused
Disney to shelf the Westcot project. Later rumors held that Westcot would be built in the Long
Beach that was later discussed for DisneySea......but again those were simply rumors. As of 1996,
plans were announced that Disney's California Adventure would be built instead.....and while it
may not be the grand vision for a theme park that Westcot was....it most certainly is the only
park that could be built in the space provided. Westcot was much too big of an idea to ever be
built without a ton of land to accompany it. Its building would have put a strain on future
expansion of both that park and of Disneyland, and would have caused Disney to replace much
more than they already are (ie, Peoplemover being replaced by Rocket Rods).....
Many might have different opinions. Most Californians hate the idea of Disney's California
Adventure, and can not understand why Disney chose to build that park rather than Westcot. But,
you must admit that regardless of which park is being built...Disneyland is going to become a
very different place, and it will be an addition for the better.
So, Californians.....look on the bright side. At least you aren't getting Animal Kingdom