Disney: New park will double length of visitors' stays

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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When the 55-acre $1.4 billion Disney's California Adventure theme park complex opens here Feb. 8, the average length of stay at the Disneyland Resort should double to four days, according to Cynthia Harriss, president.

In addition to the second Anaheim theme park, another reason for visitors to extend there stay will be the 750-room Disney's Grand Californian Hotel, which will open in the theme park Jan. 2, about one month before the park opens.

Another draw will be the Downtown Disney entertainment, shopping and dining district, making its debut Jan. 12.

"California Adventure, unlike any other park," celebrates the "fun and diversity of the Golden State," said Claire Bilby, Disneyland's vice president of sales and travel operations.

The park will have three themed districts: Paradise Pier, a beachfront amusement zone; Hollywood Pictures Backlot, devoted to moviemaking, and The Golden State, focusing on California's wilderness areas and vast cultural riches.

Noteworthy rides include Grizzly Peak, a white-water rafting trip with 360-degree turns and two drops; Condor Flats, a hang gliding ride over Yosemite Valley, and a roller coaster that loops through Mickey's ears. There also will be a Disney animation experience and a tortilla factory tour.

Downtown Disney, occupying some 300,000 square feet, will include the Avalon Cove by Wolfgang Puck restaurant, which will be part of the Pacific Wharf seaside area. It will have 250 dining seats and 100 in a second-floor Cove Bar. Seafood will be featured.

Downtown Disney also will have 12 theaters, a House of Blues and a Rainforest Cafe.

The opening of a second theme park has spurred other hotel building in the area, Bilby said, and existing properties also are undergoing major renovations that will benefit the destination.

In fact, the Anaheim area is the scene of $4 billion worth of improvements, including a 40% expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center to 1.6 million square feet by 2001.

The public will not see much advertising for the second Disneyland park, the hotel and Downtown Disney until late summer, when some "teaser ads" are planned, Bilby said, explaining that heavy promotion before the fall might encourage visitors to postpone their summer visits.

Disneyland is celebrating its 45th anniversary with the presentation of its 45 Years of Magic Parade through late fall and the nightly 45th anniversary fireworks spectacular, called Believe There's Magic in the Stars, through Sept. 4.

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