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

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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.

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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JimV
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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.

David Michael
Guest
David Michael

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… Read more »

Christine Spurlock
Guest
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 )?

David Michael
Guest
David Michael

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… Read more »

Christine Spurlock
Guest
Christine Spurlock

Thank you for the info. It’s hard to tell from the concept they put out.

JimV
Guest
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… Read more »

David Michael
Guest
David Michael

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… Read more »

JimV
Guest
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… Read more »

David Michael
Guest
David Michael

The Pedestrian Bridge is being built by Disney using its own money (no city funds). So if the City wants to do something, they would have to build a second bridge and pay for it. And I can tell you that isn’t going to happen, especially with the new city Council starting next week (much less Disney friendly)

http://voiceofoc.org/2016/12/the-next-anaheim-city-council-meeting-will-be-a-doozy/

JimV
Guest
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.

David Michael
Guest
David Michael

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… Read more »

David Michael
Guest
David Michael

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… Read more »