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A watered down version of "Why For"

Jim Hill

Jim's musings on the history of and rumors about movies, TV shows, books and theme parks including Disneyland, Walt Disney World. Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood.

A watered down version of "Why For"

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First up, Rita S. from Long Beach, CA. writes in to say:

Jim --

I really love all the stories that you've been doing this week about the Disney theme parks. From Animal Kingdom's drainage problems to Knott's Berry Farm almost becoming Disney's America. But when are you going to do a story about the Disney theme park that almost got built in my hometown: DisneySea?

I'd really love it if someday you did a multi-part story about Disney's Long Beach project and why the DisneySea theme park never made it off the drawing board.

Rita --

Well ... What with all my other long-overdue assignments, I can't really start a long form story about Disney's Long Beach project. Not without JHM readers threatening to come out to the woods of New Hampshire and lynch me.

But what I can do, Rita, is tell you that I share your fascination with the stateside version of DisneySea. Which is why -- for almost 15 years now -- I've been collecting research material on that proposed seaside resort and theme park. With the hopes of someday being able to do the definitive history of that ill-fated project.

What's that you say? You know about about the Tokyo DisneySeas theme park, but never heard a word about the stateside version of this water-based Disney theme park. Here, then: Let me reprint an article from the first (and only) edition of the "Port Disney News" (I.E. A publication that the Walt Disney Company printed up and distributed to Long Beach residents back in 1991. With the hope that the city's people would then get behind what the Imagineers were trying to build down by the harbor). This long out-of-print story should give you some idea about Mickey wanted to do with all that waterfront property.

Welcome to DisneySea! Here you will experience a thrilling journey through the mysteries, challenges and natural wonders of the sea. Among the highlights of your trip will be an intimate encounter with our planet's most important environmental resource and the chance to participate in exciting research activities conducted by some of the leading oceanic scientists.

For millions of Southern California residents and visitors, this fantastic voyage may become a reality based on the conceptual master plan for one of the most innovative theme parks ever concieved by the Walt Disney Company. According to its designers, the goal of DisneySea is to enable everyone to experience the "marvels of nature's secret world beneath the sea" and to gain first-hand experience of how the oceans affect human life as well as the life of the planet.

Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative, design, production and project management subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company responsible for the creation of Disney theme parks and attractions, has been charged to develop DisneySea. Its vision for Long Beach is a singular blend of entertainment and education through Disney-style rides and attractions, marine research facilities, an oceanarium and other aquatic adventures.

"Our goal is to sensitize millions of visitors each year to the enormous challenges and opportunities of our seas -- our most precious resource -- in a setting that encourages play and fantasy," said David Malmuth, project director and vice president with Disney Development Company. "Basically, we want people to have fun. We also want our guests to directly experience the sea, to wonder about it, to ask questions and to have a memorable time."


The architectural centerpiece of DisneySea, Oceana would also serve as one of the main educational components of the park. Within this oceanarium, guests will experience true-to-life recreations of marine habitats and ecological systems from around the globe. Visitors will be able to touch, smell, feel and hear the world of water. Overhead walkways and undewater portholes would provide both bird's-eye and crab's-eye views.

Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

In Oceana, interactive displays and hands-on participation will encourage children and adults to learn about the ocean in ways that are fun, challenging, and informative. For example, guests can see for themselves how gills work, how fish communicate, and how coral build their fragile, complex reefs. Through special lenses, they may see through the eyes of an octopus, a lobster, a penguin, and a whale. A variety of demonstrations and experiments will be specially created to educate as well as entertain.

Future Research Center

Set at the edge of DisneySea, the Future Research Center will be a state-of-the-art research laboratory where guests could interact with some of the nation's top marine scientists conducting oceanographic research.

Southern Californians active in marine science will be invited to serve on an advisory board to direct the initial mission statement of the Center.

Through an ongoing dialogue with the local scientific community and nearby universities, joint research programs will offer students of all ages a rare opportunity for hands-on exploration.

Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

Guests will be able to visit the heart of this functioning sea laboratory, observing scientists at work. Watching these experts, visitors can glimpse the future of man's involvement with the seas and probe deeper into man's relationship with the environment. For the more light-hearted adventurers, the Center will include a simulator adventure that will give guests a glimpse of the drama -- and danger -- faced by real explorers of the deep.

Interactive Programs for Students of all Ages

In addition to Oceana and the Future Research Center, DisneySea will offer more formal on-site educational programs. A variety of full and half-day programs will be designed to help teachers in their efforts to share the wonder of the ocean with students. Programs may include special field trips featuring multi-media presentations, tours and lectures for the Los Angeles and Orange County area schools.

Ocean Outreach Center

Similar to the Teacher's Center in Walt Disney World's Epcot Center, an Ocean Outreach Center is envisioned to assist visitors in their quest for more information about the ocean. Serving as a library of the sea, the Outreach Center will ofer computer terminals, reading rooms and research files designed to meet the need of guests, staff scientists, teachers and students.

Attractions Capture Spirit of the Sea

While plans for DisneySea are still evolving, Walt Disney Imagineering is planning attractions for visitors to enjoy the spirit of the sea with fun as the common denominator. For example,n on the exotic beaches of Venture Reefs, guests will enjoy scenic beach vistas from the Caribbean, Polynesian, and the Pacific. They'll be entertained and invited to dine, shop, and take a dip in the the ocean, where they'll find sunken ships and marine life "under the sea."

Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

Fleets of Fantasy, adventurous attractions, themed to storybook seafaring, would recapture the spirit and whimsey of turn-of-the-century amusement park rides. Mysterious Island and Hero's Harbor would feature "high seas" thrill rides incoprorating thousands of years of mythic folklore relating to the ocean.

At the rim of the American continent and the Pacific Ocean, DisneySea will offer a unique entertainment experience -- and a site of magic and wonder.

Sounds pretty snazzy, don't you think? So why didn't the Walt Disney Company actually go ahead with building this ambitious harborside resort? It's a l-o-o-o-n-n-g story, folks. Which -- when you really think about it -- is entirely appropriate. Given that most of this story is actually set in Long Beach.

So tell what, Rita. As soon as I finish "Mary Poppins: From the Page to the Stage," my "Light Magic" series, My "Tower of Terror" series as well as my "Muppets" article ... I'll be sure to get right to work cranking out that Disney / Long Beach story for you.

And -- speaking of things that are long overdue -- next, NatterNatter wrote in to say:

My wife and I are planning to go to Southern California later this year to attend Disneyland's 50th anniversary celebration. Will you be offering any tours at that theme park this summer?

Dear NatterNatter:

Yes. As a matter of fact, I will be. This year -- with the help of Keith & Scott over at Mouseketrips -- I'll actually be hosting a number of tours in Anaheim & Orlando over the next 11 months. With the hope that we'll then be able to accommodate all of the people who have previously expressed an interest in taking part in a JHM tour.

The upcoming tour dates are:

  • Saturday, March 19th & Sunday, March 20th -- Disneyland
  • Saturday, April 9th & Sunday, April 10th -- Walt Disney World
  • Saturday, July 9th & Sunday, July 10th -- Disneyland
  • Saturday, September 3rd; Sunday, September 4th & Monday, September 5th -- Walt Disney World
  • Saturday, October 8th; Sunday, October 9th and Monday, October 10th -- Disneyland
  • Thursday, December 1st & Friday, December 2nd -- Walt Disney World

If you'd like to grab a slot on an upcoming JHM tour and/or get a bit more information about what a JHM tour of Disneyland or Walt Disney World is actually like (Small price! Big laughs! Lots & lots of stories that you probably never heard before!) ... Then I suggest that you follow this link over to Mouseketrips.co. Where Keith & Scott will be glad to help you out.

Speaking of people who are glad ... Not everyone who wrote into JHM this week was a happy camper. Take -- for example -- this e-mail I got from Tom H. Which said:

Jim --

What happened to this week's JHM Readers contest? Here I was, all ready to answer a trivia question or make up a funny caption so that I could win a pin or a t-shirt or a coffee mug. And what do I get? You whining for pages about getting hit with a cease & desist letter.

Nobody wants to read about cr*p like that, Jim. What we really want is the chance to win prizes like a pound of coffee and a "Beauty & the Beast" screenplay.

So no more whining. Nobody cares about your legal troubles, Jim. Just shut up from here on in and make with the contests & the prizes.

Dear Tom H.

Sorry about that. I guess -- what with getting hit with that "cease & desist" letter -- I completely blanked on this week's JHM readers contest. I promise that that won't happen again.

But -- hey -- I notice that (from the info in your signature) that you seem to live in the LA area, Tom. Well, if that's really the case and you're still itching to try & win a prize this week ... Then you might want to head over to the Staples Center later this afternoon.

Why for? Because between 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. this evening, the nice folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment will be holding a special promotional event to celebrate this week's release of the "Mr. 3000" DVD. And if you'd like to try & win your very own copy of this Bernie Mac film and/or meet some of the stars of this movie ... Well, then I suggest you hightail it over to the corner of Georgia & 11th Street so that you can get in on the fun ... And maybe win a prize or two, Tom H.

Okay, folks. That pretty much does it for this week. Next week should be a whole lot of fun here at JHM. Why for? Because on Thursday, I'll be winging my way to Minneapolis. Where I'm going to try & cover the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholders meeting for the site. Here's hoping that I don't get kicked to the curb again this year.

And -- while I'm in the Twin Cities -- I'm also going to try & attend one of those screenings of "Dream On Silly Dreamer" that are being held at the Crown Theater on Thursday night. Here's hoping that I see a lot of you JHM readers there, particularly you big-time animation fans.

"Dream On" is a very special movie, folks. So you really don't want to miss out on an opportunity to see this one, alright?

Anyway ... You guys have a great weekend, okay? And we'll all meet up here again next Monday morning, okay?

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