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Friday, December 11, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: The Disney Decade

As DISNEYLAND entered the 1990's, The Walt Disney Company began thinking about what to do with the surrounding area. The company had finally purchased The DISNEYLAND Hotel and began buying up large tracts of land surrounding the Magic Kingdom. As the 35th Anniversary kicked off, the company announced the beginning of what it termed 'The Disney Decade'.

The Disney Decade would see the arrival of two new lands in DISNEYLAND- Mickey's Starland and Hollywoodland. Tomorrowland would be completely remodeled and an entirely new park would spring up next door- Westcot Center.

Glamorous Hollywoodland

New Tomorrowland

Westcot Center

As soon as the plans were announced, changes were made. Mickey's Starland became Mickey's Toontown. New Tomorrowland was scaled back. Hollywoodland, which would have been located just off Main Street between the main entrance and Tomorrowland was abandoned. The first project debuted in 1992- Mickey's Toontown.

As Disney began to re-evaluate things, a curious new attraction debuted in Adventureland- the Indiana Jones Adventure, which kicked off DISNEYLAND's 40th year.

As the Disney Decade entered its second half, it became clear that Westcot was not necessarily a feasible idea. Designed to be a west coast EPCOT Center, the park fell out of favor when Disney executives remembered that the original EPCOT Center had been anything but successful when it debuted in 1982; as a matter of fact, it almost brought the entire company down. It would take millions of dollars and new management to get things back on track. Probably not a good model for a new theme park. While the company pondered what to do about DISNEYLAND's second park, it began work on the scaled down Tomorrowland upgrade. While Walt Disney had knocked down Tomorrowland twice in ten years, the company decreed that this renovation would use existing facilities.

The decision to use existing structures for the new attractions resulted in the first large scale failure in the park's history- the short lived Rocket Rods. This "exciting" attraction reused the People Mover tracks to create what was supposed to be a thrilling ride through Tomorrowland. The track was ill suited for a fast paced ride and guests were unimpressed. Add to that the constant breakdowns and this high flying attraction was more trouble than it was worth. It quickly closed, never to reopen.

By the end of the decade, the park was ready to embark on its next big adventure- Disney California Adventure, the new theme park that would replace Westcot Center. Strikingly similar to an idea that Walt Disney had in the early 1960's called Disney California Living, the park would begin the transformation of the area outside Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom into a full fledged resort. 

Keeping Mr. Disney's promise of an ever changing, ever expanding experience, construction began on the biggest expansion in Anaheim since 1955.