Burbank Site Is a Possibility, Eisner Indicates : Disney May Build Studio Tour Attraction in Southland

Times Staff Writer

Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner said Wednesday that the Burbank-based studio is considering the construction of a studio tour attraction in Southern California, possibly on a 40-acre vacant site in Burbank.

"We are pretty well committed in the Los Angeles area--Orange County, the Valley, Burbank and so forth--to creating a second attraction," Eisner said, alluding to Disneyland as the company's premiere Southern California attraction.

"It is possible that a second attraction would be a studio and/or studio tour. And it is possible that (it) could be on that Burbank acreage, or it could be on other land that we're looking at: some that we own, some that we don't own, some that we have a lease on."

Eisner's comments were made at the company's annual meeting of shareholders in Anaheim, where 72% of the voting shareholders approved a proposal to change the state of the company's incorporation to Delaware from California.

An estimated 6,000 shareholders attended the meeting held at the Convention Center, according to Disney Vice President Erwin Okun.

At the meeting, shareholders were told that Disney's planned $300-million studio tour attraction near Orlando, Fla., is still scheduled to open in 1988.

If Disney proceeds with its plans to construct a studio tour in California, it will go head-to-head with another entertainment giant, MCA Inc., which has been operating a studio tour on its nearby Universal City property since 1964.

MCA and Disney have already sparred in print over the two companies' decisions to build rival tour attractions in central Florida.

MCA's Florida theme park is scheduled to open in Orlando in 1989. MCA President Sidney J. Sheinberg declined to comment Wednesday.

Eisner said Disney is also looking at sites in Chicago and other cities for the construction of entertainment centers, in conjunction with developer Jim Rouse and his Maryland-based company, Enterprise Development. One of the cities under consideration could be Burbank, he said.

In a telephone interview, Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom said: "The city is interested in a retail complex." But Ovrom noted that Disney executives have mentioned a studio tour as a possibility for the 40-acre site "in combination with a retail kind of operation."

The site--bounded by Magnolia and Burbank boulevards, 3rd Street and the Golden State Freeway--was until recently expected to be used for a indoor shopping mall. But developer Ernest W. Hahn Inc., which owns the property, was unable to meet a city deadline to begin the project.

Ovrom described recent talks with Disney as "preliminary."

In response to a shareholder's question, Eisner denied reports that Disney's previously reported plan to sell its Arvida real estate subsidiary was triggered in part by personality clashes with Charles Cobb, Arvida's longtime chairman.

Cobb was re-elected Wednesday as a Disney director, although his term will be among the first to expire under a new staggered system.

Eisner said no new title has been assigned the Arvida chairman. "We haven't even thought about it," the Disney chairman said, although he reiterated his hope that Cobb remains with Disney.

"I plan to be with Disney's next phase of real estate development," Cobb said in a brief interview.

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