The Unbuilt Port Disney

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Michael Eisner declared the 1990’s as the “Disney Decade”, which focused on not just expanding existing parks, Today we explore the History of the Unbuilt Port Disney #disneyseagiveaway

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In 1984, Michael Eisner was brought into the Disney company as CEO and Chairman of the Board, a move meant to strengthen the company during a slump. Though Eisner is maybe most known for his cost-cutting measures that led to a quality decline in Disney Parks, the former CEO did his best to kick off his new position with a bang.

Michael Eisner declared the 1990’s as the “Disney Decade”, which focused on not just expanding existing parks, but also adding new ones. Out of the Disney Decade came Disneyland Paris, Disney-MGM Studios, Disney-MGM Studios Paris, and Disney’s California Adventure.

This Disney Decade wasn’t a total success though, as Disneyland Paris’ opening was essentially a disaster. In the shadow of the park’s initial failure, many projects saw drastic budget cuts, or were cancelled completely. Disneyland’s second gate is probably the best example of alterations done to save money, as the final product, Disney’s California Adventure, is a far throw from the initial extravagant plans.

Though maybe we should consider ourselves lucky to get a second gate at all, Eisner had plans in mind during the Disney Decade that would’ve taken the parks in California outside of Anaheim entirely. One of them, DisneySea, was never built, but featured a rich collection of ideas that inspired future parks to come.

In the late 80’s, Disney acquired the Wrather Corporation. This was primarily to take control of the Disneyland Hotel, which until then, wasn’t actually run by Disney at all! Most other properties under the Wrather Corporation were sold off, as they weren’t worth the investment. One property in Long Beach, California, however, caught the eye of Eisner. Wrather had previously owned and operated the historical ship, the Queen Mary, along with a parcel of land surrounding it. Here, Eisner saw an opportunity to use the ship as a focal point of a new Disney resort.

In 1990 this resort, Port Disney, was announced by the Disney Company. This resort would feature a ocean-themed amusement park, marinas, a cruise ship port, retail and dining areas, and multiple hotels. Though the entirety of Port Disney was an ambitious plan, nothing was more extravagant than its park themed to the sea itself: DisneySea.

In September 1991, Port Disney News was distributed by Disney to the residents of Long Beach. This pamphlet gave a more expanded description of the resort than what was originally given in the Preliminary Master Plan.

The focal point of the park would be Oceana, a two-story aquarium designed to look like rising bubbles. Inside, guests could visit different areas representing sea life from different habitats and ecosystems around the globe. Overhead walkways and underwater portholes would give guests unique views of the tanks. Interactive exhibits would educate on everything from how gills work, to how coral reefs build up over time. Special demonstrations and experiments would also be available for guests to experience.

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