The dawn of a new Disney era. The great second gate park in Anaheim that upon opening was really the flop known as California Adventure. The well done Downtown Disney entertainment district. There was all this talk about another impressive hotel in addition to the Grand Californian. One discussed, planned, and never built... and here it is in living color- right next to the one and only original Disneyland.
No one is better at uncovering rare Disney Imagineering art than my friend Alain Littaye over at Disney and More, but here's a piece of concept art lost in my files. Unfortunately, I can't give credit as I can't remember where it came from. It must have been from a photograph as the lower right hand corner looks like it has been lit by a flash bulb. But there's no mistaking that it is Walt's original theme park on the left side. Wouldn't it have been beautiful?
As you can see, the plans that came to fruition were not the ones originally on the drawing boards. The rather plain Esplanade we have now was once planned to be a water feature and some greenery. Back then, Westcot was to be the centerpiece of the expansion, not California Adventure. All that changed when EuroDisney / Disneyland Paris hotels were overbuilt, when the suits namely Michael Eisner got cold feet and when increasing profits demanded even more. Old timers like me remember it well. "Budgeteering", became the latest executive craze that first gripped then swallowed a creative organization.
(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)