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Disneyland Article
When Will Disneyland Build Another Theme Park In Anaheim

Orange County Register
Robert Niles
October 02, 2018
October 09, 2018
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Will Disneyland ever expand to add a third theme park to the resort?

Fans have been speculating about a third gate at Disneyland ever since it expanded to add its second gate, Disney California Adventure, in 2001. With sibling Walt Disney World in Florida offering four theme parks, many fans on the West Coast want to see Disney's original theme park resort catch up.

But fans can't wish theme parks into existence like Aladdin with the Genie's lamp. Walt Disney built Disneyland in Anaheim because his hired consultant, Harrison "Buzz" Price, studied the feasibility of multiple sites and determined that Anaheim provided the best opportunity for Disneyland to become a success. Since then, Price's feasibility standards have become industry gospel in judging potential locations for theme parks.

Even if Disney somehow managed to conjure the hundreds of acres of empty land it would need to build a third park in Anaheim, adding that capacity might not make the best business sense for the company.

"Theme parks get built where there is a burgeoning middle class with money to spend and nothing to spend it on," Dave Cobb of Los Angeles' Thinkwell Group, who served as creative director for the new Warner Bros. World theme park in Abu Dhabi, said to me last week. That's why so many new parks are going up in China and the Middle East.

In the United States? Not so much. "If you look at North America, we have a shrinking middle class and an embarrassment of riches when it comes to theme parks," Cobb said. That means too many established players chasing a limited amount of money.

The only real opportunity for a major new theme park to be built in the United States in the near future is Universal Orlando's widely rumored fourth gate, which is said to be coming to hundreds of acres of land Universal has acquired near the Orange County (Fla.) Convention Center. But Universal isn't developing that project to take advantage of unmet demand so much as it is trying to position itself better defensively against rival Walt Disney World.

Universal needs another gate to help make it a more viable alternative to Disney for a week-long Orlando vacation, as opposed to something visitors tack on to a Disney World visit, as is now often the case. But even if Disney is the target of Universal's rumored move, it is SeaWorld Orlando that likely will become its victim.

SeaWorld's attendance peaked in 2009, before Universal Orlando began its recent expansion with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010. Universal's record-setting growth since then has come largely at the expense of SeaWorld, which has fallen to a distant third choice for most fans visiting Orlando's theme parks.

If Disneyland ever expanded to a third gate, much of its attendance likely would come at the expense of other parks, rather than from growth in the Southern California tourism market. But why would Disney spend the billions of dollars that a viable new park would cost simply to shift its own customers over from Disneyland and California Adventure? The company would be better off developing the limited space it has at the resort as new hotels to earn extra money from those visitors.

As much as fans might like to see it happen, the numbers just don't add up for a third Disneyland park in Anaheim right now.
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