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What there would have been to see at Long Beach's DisneySea theme park

Jim Hill

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What there would have been to see at Long Beach's DisneySea theme park

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BigBadVirginiaWoolf wrote in to say:

Dear Jim,

Could you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do another story about DisneySea ASAP? The description of the proposed Long Beach theme park in Friday's "Why For" was really kind of vague. It actually raised more questions than it answered.

So could you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE provide JHM readers a more detailed description of the place as well as show us some more concept art?

Keep up the great work, Jim. Your site rocks!

Dear Virginia

I'm glad that you -- like so many other JHM readers -- seemed to really enjoy last week's "Watered Down Version of 'Why For.' " Though I will admit that that article that I reprinted from the "Port Disney News"  was a little on the vague side.

So how's about this: Why don't I burrow around in my office and see if I can come up with some additional concept art work as well as a better description of the DisneySea theme park?

Slight pause as Jim goes downstairs and rummages through his files in the basement. Then ...

Here you go, Virginia. Why don't we start with an overview of the proposed theme park?

Copyright 1990 The Walt Disney Company

To help you get orientated ... That red line that swoops & loops through this drawing? That shows the route that Port Disney" 's monorail would have taken as it moved through this theme park. At the very center of this drawing (inside that almost red oval-like track loop) you'll see a pink Mickey-Mouse-head-shaped object. That's where "Oceania" -- the "Spaceship Earth"-like icon of DisneySea -- was supposed to have been built.

As to where the other "lands" in this ocean-themed theme park were to have been located ... Well, were you to lay a clock face over this overview of the theme park, at the 10 o'clock position you'd find the entrance to this theme park. (Look for the blue Mickey-Mouse-shaped fountain). At the 11 o'clock position is where "Fleets of Fantasy" was to have been built. Down at the 7o'clock position is where "Mysterious Island" was supposed to have been located.

Is this description still sort of confusing? Would a photograph of the model for this proposed theme park help? Well, then ... Here you go!

Copyright 1990 The Walt Disney Company

Hopefully, this photo will give you a better understanding of what was supposed to go where. That giant red rectangle to the right? That was the giant parking structure that was to have serviced "DisneySea" 's day guests as well as all those folks who would be using "Port Disney" as their departure point for a trip on the Disney Cruise Line.

To the right of that structure, you can clearly see the volcano that marks the locoation of the theme park's "Mysterious Island" area. Above that, that cluster of six red balls of varying sizes is where "Oceania" was supposed to built. To the right of that structure, you'll see another series of rounded buildings right at the edge of Long Beach Harbor. That's where the park's "Future Research Center" was supposed to be built.

Here ... Why don't I pull a few quotes from Port Disney's preliminary master plan. Which was released to the media back in July of 1990:

"Oceania, the architectural focal point of the park, would rise above the center of DisneySea in a series of futuristic bubbles, luring guests to a fascinating evolutionary journey through the world's seas. Guests would walk through a state-of-the-art, two story aquarium.

Copyright 1990 The Walt Disney Company

The curious (could then exit Oceania and) ... journey into the 21st century, visiting a Future Research Center where scientists from the world's leading institutions would come together to conduct oceanographic stidies, in much the same fashion as researchers now gather at the "Living Seas" and "Land" pavilions at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World. Adults and children alike would learn about the ocean and its diverse marine life in a hands-on exploratorium.

At Mysterious Island, guests would discover the lost City of Atlantis on a modern version of a Disneyland "E" Ticket. Children could follow clues to buried treasure on Pirate Island, while the more intrepid might dare to board Nemo's Lava Cruiser and careen suspended through dangerous caverns.

Aqua-labyrinth, a challenging maze with walls made only of water, would serve as the entrance to Heroes' Harbor, where the myths and the legends of teh sea come to life. Here guests would find rides themed to the adventures of Sinbad, Ulysses and other storied adventurers from the past.

On the edge of the Bay facing downtown, a boardwalk would recreate the nostalgia of the Long Beach oceanfront in its heyday. Nearby at Fleets of Fantasy, a harborful of fabled and fanciful ships, including outsized Chinese junks and Egyptian galleys, would disguise exciting rides and dining and entertainment.

Copyright 1991 The Walt Disney Company

Shoppers and diners will be intrigued by DisneySea's themed environments -- a Grecian village, an Asian marketplace, a Caribbean lagoon. Here guests might be seen surfing, snorkling, or wading through tropical reefs teeming with fish.

Copyright 1991 The Walt Dinsey Company

Some will experience the ultimate underwater adventure -- being lowered in a steel cage into a tank full of sharks.

At the rim of the American continent and the Pacific Ocean, DisneySea will be a place of magic and wonder offering a unique entertainment experience."

Copyright 1990 The Walt Disney Company

Sounds pretty amazing, don't you think? Of course, that's just a description of the DisneySea theme park. Port Disney was going to be so much more than that.

"How much more?," you ask. Well, the Imagineers were planning on turning this whole run-down section of Long Beach Harbor into a real destination resort with five hotels, a specialty retail and entertainment area, a new 400-boat marina, a cruise ship port and ...

Tell you what: Why don't we save that portion of the "Port Disney" story for next time. For now ... Let's just marvel at the theme park that we almost got, Long Beach's DisneySea.


A few years back, one very nice JHM reader sent me this truly extraordinary video tape. One that they'd secretly made at one of those "Port Disney" information sessions that Disney reps used to give for Long Beach residents back in 1990. This tape was just wonderful, at least from an informational point of view. It featured somewhat obscured shots of concept art as well as detailed audio descriptions of the various rides, shows & attractions that were to be built inside of the "DisneySea" theme park.

Unfortunately, my copy of that video tape seems to have disappeared. (I think one of our cats ate it.) So I'm hoping that -- if I asked nice -- that this same JHM reader will get back in touch with me ( at my [email protected] webmail address) and possibly provide me with a second copy of that tape? Please?

Here's hoping that this somewhat pitiful plea works.

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