The 1980’s saw a boom of Disney parks open across the world. In a 10-year span three new parks opened; Epcot, Disney/MGM Studios and Tokyo Disneyland as well as the idea for a park Europe. At this same time executives in Burbank, led by Michael Eisner, begin seriously planning for a second gate down the road in Anaheim.
In 1988, Disney purchased the Disneyland Hotel, which had remained under a licensing agreement with the company since 1955. They also looked at how to optimize the property around the park, including the purchasing of additional land. It was at this time the idea for the second park was finalized and in 1991 the company announced plans for WestCOT – a version of Epcot to built on the current Disneyland parking lot.
The park would feature familiar icons such as Spaceship Earth and the World Showcase. It would be much smaller than its east coast counterpart but still have eight city, country and continent destinations. London, New York, Africa, Asia, Paris, Tokyo, China and Toronto would be the stops in the World Showcase.
Spaceship Earth located near the entrance to the park was originally proposed to be gold not white or silver. Clones from Epcot would flank Spaceship Earth on both side, including Horizons, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination, Universe of Energy, The Living Seas, Wonders of Life, and The Land.
A hub was planned to separate the entrance to Disneyland and WestCOT. Between the hub and the Disneyland Hotel would be a small lake and shopping district. The project called for improved transportation to the park and new parking lots in adjacent land.
So what happened? Neighbors felt Spaceship Earth would create too much of a light reflection and be an eyesore, the cost ballooned to an estimated $3 billion and financial issues at Disneyland Paris caused Disney executives to cancel the project in 1995. But the layout and foundation for the idea did not go away and at an executive retreat in Aspen, Colorado Michael Eisner and team came up with the idea for California Adventure.
The rest of the story is known. Disney’s California Adventure would open in 2001 and there would be an entertainment and shopping district. Parking would move off the main rectangle of property, transportation would improve and new resorts would open. Like many of Disney’s plans, WestCOT would be shelved only for elements to be used years later by the executives in Burbank and the Imagineers in Glendale.