Disney Parking Lot Set For Third Theme Park Site

According to the OC Register’s Around Disney blog:

Disney plans to build a massive parking lot on the field that it originally bought for a possible third Anaheim theme park.

That means that a new park likely would be at least six to 10 years away when the lot is no longer needed.

Disney wants to add 2,570 new parking spots for guests to the Harbor Boulevard site, eating up the majority of the remaining open space on a former strawberry field that the company bought about 11 years ago in anticipation of building a third theme park.

The new parking lot plan is set to go before the Anaheim Planning Commission at 2:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd. City officials are recommending that the plan be approved, said Sheri Vander Dussen, the city’s planning director.

The extra temporary parking space is needed during the Disney’s California Adventure expansion through 2012, said Suzi Brown, a spokeswoman for the Disneyland Resort.

Already, Disney closed the 2,226-space Timon parking lot where it is building the 12-acre Cars Land as part of the $1-billion California Adventure expansion. (See a full map of California Adventure expansion plans)

“The presence of a temporary parking lot at this location in no way enhances or discounts the potential of future investment at this location,” said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman. “We’ll grow business when and where it makes sense to do so. But our focus at this time is on the expansion of Disney’s California Adventure.”

Disney also has an agreement with the Anaheim GardenWalk mall and the Anaheim Convention Center to use their parking facilities when needed, Brown said.

The proposal would allow Disney to run the parking lot for at least six years with a possible extension for a total of 10 years. The city wants to reserve space for the possible Anaheim Fixed-Guideway system — a transit link, like a monorail, between a planned transportation hub and the tourist area. If the guideway isn’t ready in six years, Disney could keep its parking lot for up to 10 years, under the proposal.

Parking will be allowed behind the “No Parking” sign soon.

Already, 1,701 parking spaces are on the former strawberry field for overflow parking from Disney and the Anaheim Convention Center, as well as for employees. Disney allowed growers to harvest strawberries on the site until recently, Brown said.

Construction could begin within the next six months, Brown said.

Visitors would take shuttle buses from the lot across from the Anaheim Convention Center north on Harbor Boulevard to the entrance of the theme parks, Brown said. The parking lot would serve as overflow parking on busy days.

An extra left-turn lane would be added from Disney Way to Harbor Boulevard to improve the traffic flow, according to the city report.

Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, said more parking is needed in the area, especially when major conventions come to town. He said Disney could still develop the property later to bring in more visitors.

“Obviously, we’d rather have a great development there, but for short-term help, parking is OK,” Ahlers said. “But I think Disney is being cautious, as well as they should be cautious.”

Hundreds of residents live in apartments just east of the proposed parking lot. An 8-acre band of land will be around the parking lot as a buffer, Brown said.

Rosie Tapia, the apartment manager for the 152-unit French Quarter Apartments, said she would prefer to have parking there instead of an empty lot, where cats and other critters congregate.

“I think a parking lot is better idea. I think it’s better for Disneyland, because it’s getting bigger,” Tapia said.

Todd Ament, a planning commissioner who is also president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, declined to say how he would vote. However, from a business perspective, he said he thinks Disney is making a “smart move.”

He said Disney is focusing on the expansion of the current park for now, so it should use the land it has for parking needs.

Currently, Disney has 28,893 parking space in the Anaheim Resort tourist area, according to city records.