Whatever Happened to WESTCOT?

When was Disneyland going to get it’s own Epcot? For years, it was rumored that the West Coast would get its own version of the now landmark Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow (EPCOT) that was featured in Orlando, FL, but that’s all it had been – a rumor.  But in 1991, the Walt Disney Company released plans for a proposed second park called WESTCOT (presumably meaning West Coast City of Tomorrow).  This new theme park was going to be built adjacent to Disneyland on the exact location where Disney California Adventure is today.

Proposed layout for the new Disneyland Resort back in 1991
Proposed layout for the new Disneyland Resort back in 1991

The park was going to be similar to EPCOT.  It would have a Future World as well as a World Showcase, but instead of different countries, it would feature the Four Corners of the World – Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe.  Future World would actually be three pavilions linked to a central icon.  According to Tony Baxter, the three pavilions or “stages” as he referred to them coupled with the Four Corners of the World would be referred to as the Seven Wonders of WESTCOT.  There would be a tremendous 45-minute attraction that would encircle the new park similar to the Disneyland Railroad but called World Cruise.  It would be broken up into five nine-minute segments each of which would preview the area it was about to dock at.  That way, people could get on and off as they wanted.  It would be both transportation and attraction at the same time.  Also, it seems as if there would be hotels featured in each of the Four Corners of the World.  Visitors to the park could actually stay overnight in the different lands!  One of the featured attractions planned for the new park included a Ride the Dragon roller coaster which Baxter described as “a Chinese festive dragon that travels up and down over the Dragon’s Teeth Mountains.”

Beautiful picture of the proposed new Disneyland Resort featuring WESTCOT
Beautiful picture of the proposed new Disneyland Resort featuring WESTCOT

WESTCOT though never happened. Some of its ideas have been incorporated into the current resort.  The way the ticket booths are set up and the central esplanade are exactly as they would have been if WESTCOT had become a reality.  The way Tony Baxter talked about muffling the view and the sound while riding the Ride the Dragon attraction sounds a lot like how the sound mitigation tubes function on California Screamin’ today.  There were two newer hotels on the property – Paradise Pier and Grand Californian and to some extent Grand Californian did have the concept of residing in the park, but not quite the way it was originally imagined.  No good idea at Disney ever gets thrown out.  It just takes shape in different ways.  I still wonder how they planned to manage traffic for the Disneyland Bowl concept though…

Those tubes on California Screamin' are sound mitigation tubes to prevent the noise from being too great to surrounding visitors
Those tubes on California Screamin’ are sound mitigation tubes to prevent the noise from being too great to surrounding visitors

If you’re interested in learning more, there are a number of great resources out there.  Some of it I learned simply by having been a cast member and keeping the original Disneyland Resort report we were given back in 1991.  The rest was fleshed out by Tony Baxter’s original transcript where he described the proposed new project.  But there are other great resources also.  The folks over at SamLand’s Disney Adventures did such an amazing job summarizing the history (or lack thereof) of the development of the park, I would recommend reading the entire series of blog posts if you’re interested.  The writers at Mickey News also did a great job summarizing Tony Baxter’s transcript and explained in some detail the vision for the park.  And someone on MiceChat posted pics that look to be authentic photos of the actual proposed layouts of WESTCOT.  If you’re interested in learning even more about this amazing project that never came to be, please visit these blogs and satiate your interest.

  • Read about another Disney West Coast project that never happened – Port Disney
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