Disneyland Retooling Eastern Gateway Project Amid Good Neighbor Hotel and Business Concerns

In response to the Eastern Gateway plans for the Disneyland Resort and concerns that good neighbor hotels and nearby businesses, Disneyland may now be re-examining some aspects of this plan according to the OC Register:

Local entrepreneurs again voiced concerns over the effect a proposed parking garage and bridge to the Disneyland Resort would have on their businesses, this time in front of the Planning Commission on Monday evening, while Disney officials struck a collaborative tone – stressing their willingness to find solutions to their counterparts’ worries.

Disney intends to create a new transportation hub, parking structure and a pedestrian bridge over Harbor Boulevard connecting them with Disneyland and Disney California Adventure ahead of the opening of ÒStar WarsÓ land in its signature theme park. Above, a view from the south end of the parking structure off of Disney Way. (Rendering courtesy of  the Disneyland Resort)

Disney intends to create a new transportation hub, parking structure and a pedestrian bridge over Harbor Boulevard connecting them with Disneyland and Disney California Adventure ahead of the opening of ‘Star Wars’ land in its signature theme park. Above, a view from the south end of the parking structure off of Disney Way.

Further underscoring the work still to be done to appease hotel and restaurant owners over access to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure is that the city announced it is pushing back a scheduled Jan. 23 meeting to approve a permit for the bridge. A new date has not been set.

“We’re going to keep collaborating, keep working hard in the coming weeks and months,” said Joe Haupt, the president of Spectrum Development Group, a consultant for Disney.

Business owners, though, tried to pressure Disney to follow up on promises of collaboration by stating their case to the commission, the first time they have addressed a formal body of public officials. Council chambers were filled and about a dozen people spoke.

“Our problem is that it literally routes pedestrians away from our businesses,” said Mariam El Haj, who is part of a family ownership group that operates the IHOP on Harbor Boulevard. “We ask that the greatest creative minds come up with a more creative solution.”

Disney’s Eastern Gateway Project is part of a $1 billion investment deal the entertainment company made with Anaheim last year, partially to avoid a gate tax, that would see a 6,901-spot parking garage and new security area go up behind independently owned hotels and restaurants on Harbor Boulevard. A 15-foot high, 65-foot wide bridge would span Harbor Boulevard to take Disney guests into the esplanade to buy tickets and enter the park.

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The original plan would require hotel and restaurant patrons to walk one block southward and cut through a walkway to get to the security area. From there, they could enter the park.

Disney officials have since suggested allowing access to the security area from the backs of hotels and improving signs directing people to restaurants and shops.

Several pointed questions – such as about the practicability of building a bridge versus a tunnel or about the width of the bridge – suggested skepticism of the plan by some on the commission.

The proposal irked some of the more than 25 business owners along Harbor Boulevard. They argued at a community workshop last week and again Monday that the bridge is an inconvenience to their guests – who can now cross Harbor to the esplanade – and will decrease foot traffic along Harbor, the majority source of their patrons.

Placing the security behind their businesses also struck a nerve with some owners, who said Disney is bolstering the safety of their main entrance while making increasing the vulnerability of customers and employees of the local businesses.

“Our family is also interested in safety and security for our guests and employees,” said Greg Eisenman, general manager of Tropicana and Camelot Inn hotels. He added that putting a security screening area behind the local businesses put the puts the risk “in our backyards.”

Dan Hughes, the former Fullerton police chief and Disney‘s vice president of security and emergency services, said that moving the security area back and creating a buffer between screening and the park allows officials to better “observe behaviors” and identify those who may pose a threat to the resort.

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14 comments

  1. JimV

    Why can’t they allow direct access to the bridge from Harbor? That bridge couldn’t take up the entire width of the hotel it is replacing. Also, the exit from the bridge should allow guests to exit directly to Harbor and not go through the security infrastructure doubling and back.

    • afrabuck

      Allowing direct access to the bridge from Harbor would defeat the purpose of the security area. My guess is that an exit directly to Harbor is possible but this would also have an effect on security. Just labeling something as a exit unfortunately doesn’t prevent guests trying to use it as a quicker entrance by skipping screenings.

      • JimV

        It wouldn’t because the entry point to the security area is from Harbor that will route around to the security checkpoints. The exit from the bridge should also include a separate ramp that exits directly to Harbor instead of leading to the parking structure. Again, the hotel width should allow two separate lanes: (1) to lead to the security checkpoints, and (2) an exit offramp to Harbor. Has anyone tried to skip the screenings at the Disneyland Resort Esplanade? I haven’t seen anyone try.

  2. I attended the Public Workshop last night, and the Disney rep stated that the pathway on the bridge had to be at least 65 feet wide, based on engineering studies to deal with the peak time the bridge will be used (after the evening parades and fireworks).and they worked backwards from that number. basically they need the full width of the property for the bridge.

    Disney has offered to build a special entrance basically from McDonald’son Harbor going east to the new project, but they expect the private owners to give up the rights and pay for the pathway to the point it hooks up with Disney Property. Same with the Hotels/Motels, they can build a special entrance from the east-side of their property onto the new Pedestrian Pathway between Pummba and the Security Check area.

    • Christine Spurlock

      David, since you’re down there ( I’m in Ventura ) do you know what they will do to the little drop-off lot on Harbor? We take a shuttle from here because no one wants to drive through L.A. and they are not accredited to use the shuttle area so we have to use drop-off. Also can’t they have a security check for people crossing at East Shuttle entrance light and the bridge just shifting it back and over (for D.C.A. push out )?

      • Yes, that area will become part of the new “secure” Toy Story Bus drop off area (Toy Story will have a security check, just like Mickey and Friends is getting.

        The new drop off will be part of the Transportation Hub off of Manchester. The presentation had it as the 4th (southern) set of drop off spots for private vehicles (The northern one is for Hotel Shuttles and similar services, the middle two are for the ART system buses).

        There are logistics in regards to a security check on the west side of Harbor, at first the city wanted to remove the crosswalk all together, but backed of that internal comment when the non-Disney business owners made so much noise. The new “worry”, that the Security gate would back up so much that it would push the wait line onto the city’s right of way (aka sidewalk).

        A lot of things went unsaid on purpose at the meeting, from Disney refuse to admit to any plans for the former Transportation area (which everyone expected), but as for moving the bus stops, the city said not at the time, but that the OCTA was doing a study of the entire area to improve service and dealing with traffic in the area. (another not at this time, but likely to happen just the same). So there are plans and thought for the future, but nobody wants to admit to them,which is why the non-Disney businesses are so frustrated, It was interesting to see some of the Hotel Owners making public comments supporting Disney and how they love to work with each other for the overall goal of bringing in new guests,what a surprise that Wincome was one of them…..

        There has been a request for another workshop prior to the actual hearing, so we shall see what folks are truly willing to admit in 2017, and which Hotels/Motels and restuarants opted for the alterantive entrances on the east side of Harbor into the gateway, and what things actually did change. (IMHO, not much real change).

    • JimV

      So the engineering studies tell them the full width needs to be 65 feet despite the fact that the crowd will likely dissipate into two parking lots (M&F and new parking lot) and into Downtown Disney and the area hotels. This is just a bad assumption and it makes it difficult to further dissipate the crowds as they exit the bridge. Everyone is forced to follow the same corridor after they cross the Harbor bridge. They should assume that upon crossing the bridge, some will want to exit directly onto Harbor while others continue to the parking lot or the bus stops. The special entrance to McDonald is quite a narrow road. The other entrances on the back side of the hotels creates all sorts of hazards especially if people just want to continue their journey on Harbor. Disney seems firm on their plan. They never given much consideration to the public at large.

      • OK, the engineering studies took into consideration that some would head to Downtown Disney and Mickey and friends structure,and other s would use the new Eastern Gateway project, including the Pumbaa Structure, and the new Hotels I mentioned. Plus the Fire Marshal also has a say in the matter in regards to egress flow and make sure the area can be evacuated in a certain time frame in case of emergency, And the number came up 65 feet wide at that point.

        And then some folks will head to the New transportation Hub, some will head to the Hotels north on Manchester, some to the Pumbaa Parking Structure (using the escalators), and then the Pedestrian Walkway to the south. The Fire Marshal doesn’t care,heck, jut place them in the transportation Hub roadways, similar as to what is done at Airports and schools in similar situations.

        Disney has worked with the city of Anaheim staff, including the Traffic and Transportation Department, the Anaheim Police Department (and Homeland Security and other similar groups) to make sure the plan worked and kept the public safe, and that the overall public that doesn’t visit the Disneyland Resort can still use Harbor Blvd as a major Traffic Thoroughfare, and improvements to reduce traffic delays, such as removing crosswalks, traffic lights, bus stops and other things that slow down traffic in the area. And if you are looking at the Public at Large, that is the biggest group, aka the residents of the city of Anaheim and other nearby cities, such as Garden Grove, Orange and Fullerton.

        But to be honest, it is Disney property that the new project is being built on, and why do they need to help out competing businesses? In reality. they don’t, but they have made gestures as a show of good faith and a good neighbor.

        • JimV

          I see. Then if Disney have no real obligation to ensure the corridor serves the guests and businesses, then the alternative means the access of the Harbor bridge should partially be a City obligation especially if no solution is arrived that’ll ensure closure of the crosswalk from Harbor, which they are currently not planning to do yet. The City should propose widening the bridge (the street and sidewalk portion) by another 10 feet or building a separate bridge and providing stairs and escalators for guests to cross Harbor. Thus Disney may have to maintain its security apparatus at the East side of the Esplanade or just provide a convenient exit for guests to continue onto Harbor.

          • JimV

            Of course, the cheapest way out is just keeping the crosswalk. The second cheapest is request Disney to add access points right on the sidewalk as a concession for approving their permit. Not shown on the diagram is the elevation of the path from the bridge to the security area. I suppose it can be a gradual incline. What if instead the path remains on the second level throughout their former hotel property and the ground level serves the guests on Harbor to reach the security area. The design should be reworked on Disney’s property.

          • To meet ADA laws in regards to the maximum grade allowed and flat platform sections, you need about 1,000 feet on each side of the bridge to follow code and get approval. No way that can be done if you make the bridge longer,and Disney won’t do it. They have made it clear, they are willing to work with those businesses on Harbor,but any changes they will have to pay for. Disney wanted the Camelot instead of the Carousel, but the family that owns the Tropicana and Camelot have refused all offers from Disney and stated they won’t sell to the company. The same response from the other Hotels in the area including the BWPPPI&MS, Park Vue Inn and the BWP Anaheim. As stated, Disney has no obligation, or property on Harbor to do what you want. They did make a deal with Southern California Edison to allow the new Entry Point next to the Grand Legacy, and that is the closest property they own in the area.

  3. I should add, I have seen multiple attempts to bypass the security check, there was an area near the La Brea Bakery that had an issue until redesigned, I have also seen it at other points. But then, I go to the parks more often than most, so a higher chance of seeing it. Should be interesting to see what happens on the West side, as they start using the new Security Check areas Thursday. And then the test and adjust period, as they move around staff and other issues to match up with the traffic flows that happen in reality, as compared to the computer projections.

    But right now, both sides have a 16 lanes to go through, the new gates will have about 40 on each side. Now, for the Eastern Gateway, you have about 7,000 new parking spaces, and at an average of about 3 people per car, that is about 20,000 more guests a day, then you add the new Hotels being built, the two where the old Bergstrom Furniture Store was, a new 12 Story Cambria Hotel where the Flakey Jake’s used to be, the JW Marriott at the Anaheim GardenWalk, and the upgrade of the Anaheim Plaza Hotel to a 4 star. The Quality Inn is going to be replaced by a 6 story Hotel, plus the new Hotels at Katella and Harbor.

    It was announced last night that Disney plans to add a security check at the Toy Story Lot, and that is why the plans show a special area for Toy Story Buses to disembark,since it will be inside the security bubble,

    So with so many new guests using the new Eastern Gateway, you need the additional Security Check Stations to keep the waits minimal,and the wide paths to allow decent traffic flow.

    Even with a manned exit, you have people all the time that try to go the wrong way, airport security zones have the issue all the time, and they keep adding ways to make sure nobody does it besides a human TSA agent at the exit. (Barriers, one way escalators, etc.).

    Add to that Star Wars Land, and the allowed daily attendance (fire marshal) numbers will be higher since the park will be larger. Add to that the rumored DCA extension into the former (current) Transportation Hub and its increased capacity, and it is clear that the resort needs more security check stations, and wide pathways to allow proper pedestrian flow. Heck, Disney is looking at making the current Main Street Backstage pathways better designed for more use by guests.

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