$1-Billion Disney Park : Long Beach, Anaheim in Contention


The Walt Disney Co. today announced that a $1-billion theme park will be built in Southern California and unveiled plans for about a dozen new attractions at Disneyland that will give the venerable park more of a Hollywood flavor.

The new park will be built either next to Disneyland in Anaheim or near the Queen Mary-Spruce Goose attraction--bought by Disney from the Wrather Corp. in 1988--in Long Beach, Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael D. Eisner said at a news conference.

"It depends a lot on which community wants us more," Eisner said.

Disney will go to the city that demonstrates the best plan for handling the traffic and parking needed for the massive project, Eisner said. He declined to release details of the park, saying its theme, size and opening date will depend on where it is built.

In Anaheim, Disney owns about 66 acres around Disneyland. In Long Beach, the company leases 55 acres and holds the option to develop 256 acres of water surrounding the Queen Mary attraction. Previously, Disney officials had mentioned the idea of a water theme park for this site.

The announcement of a new park is likely to set off a bidding war between Anaheim and Long Beach, two cities that already compete for lucrative convention business. Anaheim Mayor Fred Hunter was first to the punch today as he presented Eisner with a proclamation honoring Disneyland's 35th anniversary being celebrated this year.

"Here I have the first opportunity before Long Beach to say the answer is yes, yes, yes," Hunter said.

On Thursday, some Long Beach officials were given a presentation about the possibility of a theme park. Long Beach City Councilman Evan Anderson Braude, who represents the downtown area and the Queen Mary site, said Long Beach offers a superior infrastructure and transportation system.

"We will go as far as we have to go as long as it makes economic sense" to get the theme park, Braude said.

Eisner also announced plans for a "Disney Decade" that will include the most ambitious expansion in Disneyland's history. The expansions will tie the Disney's increasingly successful movie operations to the theme parks.

This summer, a Dick Tracy stage show at Disneyland will open, timed to accompany the release of the company's Dick Tracy movie. In 1991, the Muppets will have their own attraction and daily parade and a "Young Indiana Jones" stunt show will also open.

Later in the 1990s, two new "lands" will be built: Mickey's Starland, which will include the Muppets and an attraction based on the animated film "The Little Mermaid," and "Hollywoodland," a reconstruction of Hollywood Boulevard as it looked in the 1930s and 1940s, plus two new Roger Rabbit attractions. Disneyland's "Tomorrowland" area will also be entirely remodeled.

Eisner said an expansion plan for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will be announced next week.

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