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by Ken Pellman (archives)
July 25, 2001
Ken speculates on what the Disneyland Resort's third theme park might be.

Greetings once again!

There’s been news and talk lately about further expansion of The Disneyland Resort. Disney’s starting the process of openly pursuing new development. That’s got a lot of rumors flying and people talking. What will Disney do? One of the most common bits of speculation is that Disney will build a water park. Well, here's what I think about…

What Will Be Built Next at The Disneyland Resort

…At least, this is my thinking on the subject this month.

Introduction
It’s nice to dream every now and then.

Recently, there’s been talk about a "third theme park" for The Disneyland Resort making the news again, even as Disney’s California Adventure gets off to a mixed start. Disney officials, thinking ahead, are studying the possibilities and logistics. Some activist residents of the local area asked the Anaheim City Council to put everything on hold until things settle down from the opening of the existing expansion developments.

The City Council basically told the residents to take a hike.

After all, when people across the country hear Anaheim, they think Disneyland. Yes, Anaheim was there long before Disney. Yes, there’s the Anaheim Convention Center, the Arrowhead Pond, and Sun Theatre. But let’s face it - The Disneyland Resort has been the driving economic force in Anaheim.

Sure, Anaheim would no doubt be a busy part of the Los Angeles County / Orange County megalopolis if there was no Disneyland Resort, but only as part of the outward sprawl of places like Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Santa Ana. Instead, it has a world-class tourist destination and its own major league baseball and hockey teams.

So, how can The Disneyland Resort grow physically and financially?

A Third Park?
The biggest chunk of undeveloped land in the Resort vicinity is the farmland located eastward, across Harbor Boulevard, from the Anaheim Convention Center. It was known for many years that Disney wanted the land for future development, and after much controversy and drama, Disney finally got it.

The questions are: what is going to be the best compliment to the existing Resort elements, and, what is going to bring Disney the highest return on investment. With considerably less space (so far) than the actual space Disneyland Park takes up, what will work?

An Idea that is all Wet?
There has been a lot of talk of a water park. After all, this is southern California we’re talking about, and although there are three water parks at Walt Disney World, there are none at The Disneyland Resort. Disney’s original water park, the cozy River Country, was joined by the larger, heavily themed Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, which did for water parks what Disneyland Park did for amusement parks.

However, Disney has much more land and leeway in Florida than it has in California. Contrary to popular myth, southern California does get cold enough and stormy enough to close down a water park for months.

In addition, There are already four sizable water parks in southern California - Raging Waters in San Dimas, Wild Rivers in Irvine, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Valencia, and just a few minutes from Disney - Knott’s Soak City in Buena Park. Water slides have much lower capacity than shows and ride-through attractions. Furthermore, although I don’t have figures to confirm this, I suspect that guests tend to spend more on food and merchandise in a ride park than a water park.

Then again, water parks cost less to build and maintain.

Still, I’d have a hard time believing Disney, with space so limited, would go ahead with a water park unless it was determined that it could be successful enough as long as there were certain modifications to the formula.

For instance, would a covered water park with a "convertible" roof be feasible? This way, it could be mainly open-air during the majority of time when the weather would be warm and pleasant enough.

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