The Tragic Story of WestCOT, Disneyland’s EPCOT

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Yes, you read the title right, there was going to be an EPCOT-esque park at Disneyland in California. I’m sure some of you hard core Disneyland fans might already know about this, but for those of you who don’t know, and are curious as to what happened, let’s take a journey back to the Michael Eisner era of Disney.

With the parks in Florida doing well, thanks to the opening of Disney-MGM Studios and new attractions & events at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, Michael Eisner was looking to try and bring the same success the Florida resort was having to Disneyland in California.

The company wanted to find a way to make the park in California a multi-day experience.  They knew that in order to entice guests to come to the new park it had to be something grand, so they came up with the concept of “WestCOT”.

The idea of WestCOT was a reimagining of  EPCOT Center located at Disney World in Florida. The plan was to do something like the World Showcase but instead of countries the pavilions would be themed after different Parts of the World.

They would mostly be divided by Continent such as Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America, and in the Center of it all would have been the park’s centerpiece, Space Station Earth.

Unlike Spaceship Earth, the Space Station Earth centerpiece would not be a ride a ride. Instead it would have been a 300ft Tall structure, in the middle of the bay, where guests could experience fine dining with luxurious scenery.

The entrance being called “Future World”, sharing the same name from EPCOT, would have combined much of the attractions at the front of EPCOT into one location.

One of the big parts for this plan was for parking garages.

The WestCOT area would be built over the old Disneyland Parking lot and so multi-level lots were to be constructed to the east and west sides of the park. But with the long walk the decision was made to have People Movers installed at the garages.

The People Mover would have seen a large expansion, nearly doubling the amount of rail the park already had, making multiple stops across both parks and at the Disneyland Hotel, as well as the new “Disneyland Resort Hotel.”  (That’s not confusing.)

The plans were unveiled in 1991 and the estimated cost would have been around $3Billion USD, with another $800Million required from the City of Anaheim, as many local businesses would have to be relocated to make room for some of the expansion.

Those kinds of expensive relocation projects was why Walt Disney decided to build a park in Florida and buy LOTS of land out there before other businesses could come in.

Why didn’t it happen?

The cost of the park was high and the Disney company were looking to make project cuts, especially since the opening of EuroDisneyland,, now known as Disneyland Paris, was underwhelming and set the entire company back financially.

In 1995 the WestCOT project was deemed too expensive to build, and with the company needing to save money the project was canceled.

Michael Eisner was still adamant to have a second park in California, so the land that was meant for WestCOT became the Home of “California Adventure,” a park that upon opening in 2001 was seen as an eyesore, and remained that way, until Bob Iger came in as CEO and revamped the park.

The WestCOT Project is an interesting story, another “Disney What If”, like “What If” Walt Disney had not realized the Florida Project, “What If” Disney had gone out of business in the 1980s, “What If” Disney didn’t buy Fox for $70Billion.

Of course those all all questions we’ll never know the answer to so all we can do is speculate.

But to all those hardcore Disney Park fanatics this project seemed enticing, and perhaps one of Disney’s Biggest “What Ifs”.

 
 


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Mr. Milo
Independent Film Writer, Independent Film Maker and Film Historian. Hardcore Disney Admirer and Greatly Respects the Legacy of Walt Disney, George Lucas, J. R. Tolkien and many others. Has written a number of articles for smaller websites and is currently in the process of launching my own production company. I have a great Passion for storytelling and believes that with a paper and pencil you can many any work of art, no matter where you come from, be it in the written word or in drawing.