Disney intends to construct a transportation hub, a massive parking structure and a pedestrian bridge over Harbor Boulevard connecting them with Disneyland and Disney California Adventure ahead of the opening of “Star Wars” land in its signature theme park.
According to documents filed Wednesday in City Hall, the company proposes to start building a seven-story, 6,800-space parking structure next year along Disney Way.
The park also plans to shutter its current transportation hub, where buses from some Disney parking lots and hotel shuttles drop off visitors near the theme parks’ main gates to build the new one on a Disney-owned site about a half-mile away on Manchester Avenue.
The Carousel Inn and Suites, which Disney purchased last year for $32 million, would close in October and eventually get razed to make way for a pedestrian walkway leading from the new transit hub to the bridge 20 feet above Harbor.
Parkgoers would go through security and then take the bridge toward the entrances of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. There are no plans for a moving walkway.
This massive upgrade of its Anaheim property aims to boost parking capacity and help calm traffic on three oft-packed perimeter streets: Harbor, Ball Road and Katella Avenue. The new layout would encourage northbound I-5 drivers to slide into the new parking structure without going onto those three streets.
Dubbed the Eastern Gateway Project, the development is part of a $1 billion investment pledge Disney made with the city last year in exchange for Anaheim not levying an entertainment gate tax on park visitors.
“The Eastern Gateway is part of our substantial investment in Anaheim, which will provide additional guest parking and help to alleviate congestion in the Resort District as we continue to expand the Disneyland Resort,” Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said.
The entire project is scheduled for completion in late 2018.
Construction for Disneyland’s “Star Wars” land began earlier this year. No opening date has been set. Disney recently won approval to build a four-diamond luxury hotel in the northern part of Downtown Disney, with construction slated for 2018 and completion in 2021.
There are no plans to expand either park onto where the current transportation hub sits between Disneyland and California Adventure.
In recent years, Disney had assembled property required for this latest project. Prior to purchasing the Carousel, the company spent $48 million on a 13-acre site on Manchester.
Sometimes parking is so strained at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim that guests are directed to park at the nearby Convention Center or at the GardenWalk retail center. Employees, on the busiest days, park at Angel Stadium and get shuttled the two miles.
Disney’s latest development is expected to undergo a 30-day review by city officials. Then, the project will go to the Planning Commission when Disney seeks a conditional-use permit for the pedestrian bridge and the transit hub. The parking lot, previously announced, is already approved.
City officials said they would help Disney control traffic during construction.
Originally posted at the Orange County Register by Mark Eades