Port Disney was a planned property of The Walt Disney Company that was to have been built in Long Beach, California, United States. The property was to have featured a marine-themed theme park, a marina, a cruise ship port, a specialty retail and entertainment area, and hotel accommodations. It was also to have incorporated the RMS Queen Mary and Spruce Goose, which Disney acquired as a result of acquiring the Wrather company in 1989.
Port Disney was announced in 1991 via a publication called "The Port Disney News". The project was canceled amid financial constraints which also brought down the planned WestCOT theme park in Anaheim, as well as pressure from environmental groups who were opposed to the amount of landfill that would be needed. Some elements of the theme park that was to have been built at Port Disney were incorporated into Tokyo DisneySea.
The area that would have hosted Port Disney is now a major container port. The RMS Queen Mary remains a popular tourist attraction, while the Spruce Goose was moved to Oregon, the dome that housed it now serving as a terminal for Carnival Cruise Lines.
The Port Disney News
The Port Disney news publication was produced by Disney and distributed to Long Beach residents in 1991. The paper was made to look like a newspaper and was used mainly to create public support for the planned property. The Port Disney News saw only one printing and was abandoned. Most of the information available about Port Disney comes from this publication.
According to former Disney cast members, the company abandoned the idea mainly due to its significant financial problems caused by the EuroDisney Project (the cost of the construction and operation of the marina was an estimated $1 billion at the time) which ultimately led to the cancellation of the Port Disney and the planned Disney WestCOT Project. City of Long Beach employees say that it was abandoned because the city did not agree to make expensive improvements to the Long Beach Freeway and other roads leading to the development site as requested by Disney.
A similar publication was produced for Virginia residents relating to the unbuilt Disney's America park.
DisneySea Theme Park
A lone theme park touted for the new property would have been DisneySea. However this park would have been quite different from the DisneySea park in Tokyo.
Oceana - This area would have been the park's center piece. The Port Disney News described Oceana this way:
- 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 underwater portholes would provide both bird's-eye and crab's-eye views.
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 - This area would have been an interactive Research and Preservation exhibit similar to the Living Seas and Walt Disney World's Epcot. The Port Disney News described the Future Research Center this way:
- 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.
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.
In addition to Oceana and The Future Research Center the park would have included other themed "lands". At the time of the publication of the Port Disney News Walt Disney Imagineering still had not finalized the list of green lighted lands. The Port Disney News again says:
- 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 ocean, where they'll find sunken ships and marine life "under the sea".
Fleets of Fantasy, adventurous attractions, themed to storybook seafaring, would recapture the spirit and whimsy of turn-of-the-century amusement park rides. Mysterious Island and Hero's Harbor would feature "high seas" thrill rides incorporating 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.
Other Park Offerings - The Parks Future Research Center would have also offered a number of educational opportunities and facilities including:
- 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 multimedia 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 offer computer terminals, reading rooms and research files designed to meet the need of guests, staff scientists, teachers and students.
Disney's property at Long Beach would have included amenities outside the park including:
- Five hotels (Including the RMS Queen Mary)
- A specialty retail and entertainment area
- 400-boat marina
- "Cruise Ship Port": The home port for a west coast line for the Disney Cruise line.
- The Spruce Goose was also to be displayed here