When top Disney executives sat down in 1995 to plan out DISNEYLAND's second gate, they had (allegedly) never heard of Walt Disney's plans for Disney California Living. Since no known conceptual art exists for DCL, the claim is believable. In any case, their best idea from the session was a more "grown up" theme park that would highlight the tastes, sights and sounds of California in one theme park. Since the goal for this park was to get guests to stick around DISNEYLAND awhile longer during their California vacations, it seemed like a great idea.
Earlier plans had called for a larger theme park that would fill up the entire parking lot. DCA would only fill up about 2/3rds, leaving room for some parking in the property's south east corner. (This would save money on building another parking structure. The original project's "Pleasure Island" style entertainment district would lose its surrounding lake, becoming Downtown Disney and the park's front gate, which had strangely been planned to face west towards Disneyland Drive, would now face north towards DISNEYLAND's front gate, making park hopping a breeze.
So what would be represented inside the park? Hollywood was a no brainer. Millions of DISNEYLAND guests hopped on tour buses to see the sights in Hollywood, then spend the day in Universal Studios. Perhaps having Hollywood in Anaheim would keep guests here.
Using an erector set, a Disney Imagineer mocked up an entirely new ride system that could make guests believe they were flying over various sights. This system could be put into place and used as a way to show guests the rest of California and they wouldn't need to leave the resort to do so.
What could have just been a plain looking food court was made exceptional by modeling it after Monterey's Cannery Row and San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.
So after a round of brainstorming, the group had its concept and some possible ideas for what kind of attractions could be inside the park. Imagineering would have to take it from here.