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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Disneyland: One Man's Dream- The Life and Death of WestCOT

The Second Gate at Disneyland was going to be huge.

But before we get into WestCOT, let's look at EPCOT for a moment.

EPCOT was the ultimate dream of Walt Disney. EPCOT, or Enviornmental Protoype Comunity of Tomorrow, was going to be an well planned urban utopia which was o be part of Disneyworld in Florida. I think Mr. Walt Disney can explain it better then I can:

When Walt passed away, The Disney Company decided it did not want to take on the task of running a town. So, they decided to turn EPCOT into a theme park. At first, Epcot was going to be about the future. But really, some Imagineers wanted to keep it futuristic, and others wanted a theme park showcasing the customs of different worlds. Eventually, these 2 ideas were pushed together, and EPCOT Center was born.

There were several problems with Epcot. First of, it was so spread out. Walking around the park took very long and got many guest tired easily. Secondly, what you saw in Epcot was what you got. In the World Showcase, there were no side streets to explore it was just 1 large area that you entered, and quickly left. Unless you wlaked through it, you really weren't thrust into the area it represented it. And most importantly, kids as well as adults found the area boring, with to much focus on education, and not enough kids attractions.

Imagineers took this into consideration when Micheal Esiner told them to "Amaze Me!". And that they did.

Many aspects were the same in WestCOT as in Epcot. The park was made up of a Future World and a World Showcase. But WestCOT was different then Epcot in most ways.

First we have World Showcase. Instead of idividual countries making up the area, there would be regions, including the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Not only did this conserve space, but it also would show much more diverse regions. This concept would also show you how different cultures affected each other's development, and the cultural diffusion that went on throughout history. And there would be a hotel in the park. If you looked up, you could see people living above you in France or Italy. It was going to be very unique.

There was going to be a ride called "Ride The Dragon" in Asia. Guests would ride a roller coaster themed to a dragon in the middle of a Chinese New Year celebration. Because of the hieght of the hotel, the rides could be housed on the lower floors while the higher floors served as a berm.


Europe: Asia:

The signature ride in WestCOT would be the World Cruise. This attraction would act like the Disneyland Train, taking you from region to region. Guests would board boats that took them past famous Audio-Animatronic scenes from throughout history. For instance, when you went into Europe, you'd see the burning of Rome, the painting of the Mona Lisa, and more. This part of the voyage would last about 9 minutes, at which point you could either exit and explore the area or continue on with the ride. There would be about 5 stops, making this 45 minute attraction the longest in Disney history.

At the center of WestCOT would be a 300 foot golden ball similar to Epcot's Spaceship Earth, This one would be bigger and would be dubbed "Spacestation Earth". The Future World Area around it would house various rides from Epcot, and also an updated version of Adventure Thru Innerspace, called Cosmic Journeys.

So, with stunning concept art, and a great plan, what was the problem? Well, WestCOT itself cost $2 billion. The locals were also less then thrilled about seeing Spacestation Earth from there backyards. Disney then proposed to change it into a odd looking sprie, partly due to the protests of the locals, and partly because of the terrible view guests would see from Main Street.

Still, fate seemed to be against WestCOT. And it was just too much and too expensive. And with EuroDisney failing in France, the idea was finally scrapped in 1995. It seemed like Disneyland would never become a resort.

But even as new rides were added to Disneyland, the idea of a second gate for the park never disappeared. Where there's a will, there's a way.

(As always, pictures Copyright Disney. All Right Reserved.)

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