Will the demise of the Eastern Gateway at Disneyland be a death blow for businesses on Harbor?
By Robert Niles
Be careful what you wish for.
Businesses on Harbor Boulevard near Disneyland in Anaheim might learn a hard lesson, as Disney confirmed that it will abandon the Eastern Gateway project that so many of them fought. Far from providing a win for the Harbor Boulevard community, Disney’s decision to turn away from its eastern face might become the death blow for some businesses on that street.
The Eastern Gateway project included a new parking garage for more than 6,900 cars, located between Interstate 5 and Harbor. That would have brought tens of thousands of Disneyland visitors daily to cross Harbor on their way to the parks. Local businesses fought the plan in part because those visitors would have crossed the street on a new pedestrian bridge, which opponents feared would keep foot traffic away from their businesses.
Disney instead will build a new 6,500-car garage next to Mickey and Friends, on the west side of its property. Disney needs the new parking capacity to accommodate the expected surge of visitors to the resort for its Star Wars land, opening in 2019, as well as a much-rumored new Marvel land coming at some point after that to Disney California Adventure. Disney also committed to building a new parking facility as part of its deal where the City of Anaheim agreed to continue not charging an admission tax on Disneyland tickets.
The new plans also move the site for Disneyland’s planned fourth hotel onto the land now occupied by the AMC movie theaters, ESPN Zone, and Rainforest Cafe. In addition, Disney will build a new entryway to what will be a smaller Downtown Disney that should be more focused on Disney’s on-site hotel visitors than appealing to locals looking for a place to grab dinner and see a movie.