In the first two parts of this series Shaun Finnie looked at Disney hotels that had been planned but never built. In this third and final part he tells of a Disney theme park where the guest rooms would have been part of the actual attractions – Westcot.
In this series so far I’ve looked at the various hotels around the world that Disney has designed and for one reason or another abandoned. But there’s one series of hotels that I’ve yet to talk about. And they would have been very different indeed….
If the expansion of Disneyland had gone ahead as planned in the 1990’s, the construction of WESTCOT would have included six new hotels and 4,000 rooms at the Anaheim resort. Disney Imagineers produced an ambitious design to build a second theme park on the land that was at that time the Disneyland parking lot. Of course this is what they eventually did with Disney’s California Adventure but the original concept was to have included much, much more.
I’ll cover the actual park in my next column, but for now let’s look at the hotels that would have been in and around WESTCOT. Yes that’s right, IN and around. WESTCOT would have been the first (and so far only) Disney Park to have hotel rooms built into the actual attractions.
Like its Floridian counterpart, Westcot was to have featured a World Showcase style dedicated to showing architecture from around the globe. Unlike the Epcot version however, this Showcase wasn’t to have featured individual countries but rather “The Four Corners of the World”. So there would be a European corner, an Asian one, an area representing Africa and a fourth corner to show the Americas, all arranged around a central lake. Each of these “corners” would have included rides, attractions, shops, etc based around the global area they were representing. These would be presented in a series of six storey buildings. The big new twist would be that while the bottom three floors of the Asian, African and European pavilions held the attractions, on the upper levels there would be a limited number of guest rooms. These luxury rooms would naturally be themed to represent the region in question.
Imagineer Tony Baxter described this idea – which Disney referred to as the “Live The Dream” program – like this.
“When we started WESTCOT we said to ourselves ‘Could we find a way where they are not just looking at the France Pavilion or the Japanese Pavilion but actually saying ‘That’s where I want to stay’, and having that be your headquarters for your whole visit to Disneyland’ ”.
So what architectural themes would these rooms have copied? Well how about staying in Renaissance Italy, London, Paris or Germany? Or a white marble palace based on India’s famous Taj Mahal? Ancient Egypt and classical Roman and Greek were also planned as themes, as well as a replica of the magnificent domes of St Basil’s cathedral in Moscow. Canada, Japan, China – all these countries’ representative buildings would have had rooms above them too. And all built to a very high level of comfort. But of course these guest rooms wouldn’t be cheap; prices were expected to be around $300 to $400 a night, and don’t forget that we’re talking about 10 years ago.
On the map above you can see the proposed site for the WESTCOT park marked by the number 7. The red buildings around its lake are “The Four Corners of the World”. Directly to the north of the number 4 is the entrance to the original Disneyland Park.
The World Showcase rooms weren’t the only hotels that were planned for WESTCOT though. You may have noticed that I made no mention of the Americas pavilion featuring hotel rooms. That’s because there would have been three brand new hotels built with more of an American feel. Remember, these would be in addition to the Disneyland hotel which was already in existence.
The new hotels would have been the Disneyland Resort Hotel, The Magic Kingdom Hotel and the WESTCOT Lake Resort. You can hopefully see them as the teal coloured sections at points 3, 5 and 6 respectively on the above map. For those of you that know the area, these new resorts would have been located on West Street, which would have been renamed Disneyland Drive as part of the development. Even though this was well before the Disney’s California Adventure park was dreamed up, these resorts were to have architecturally resembled famous Californian buildings.
For instance The Magic Kingdom Hotel would have had more than a passing resemblance to the historic Santa Barbara Mission, while the WESTCOT Lake Resort was to have been built in the style of the Beverly Hills Hotel. This 1,800 room hotel would have been built in a horseshoe design curving, as its name suggests, around a six-acre lake. However these two moderate price range retreats would have been upstaged by the vacation area’s flagship hotel, the 800 room Disneyland Resort Hotel. This luxurious complex was to be constructed in the style of San Diego’s world famous Hotel del Coronado, which would later prove an inspiration for the Grand Floridian at Walt Disney World.
And on top of all that there was to be a new tower for the original Disneyland Hotel. For the guest who wanted to stay at the Disneyland Resort, there would be plenty of accommodation choice.
But why would guests want to stay for any length of time? What would the rest of Disneyland’s Westcot expansion have contained? Come back next time when I’ll talk in some depth about that.