ANAHEIM, Calif. — Disney has taken the wraps off the World of Color nighttime water-and-lights show at the Disneyland Resort here, part of a $1.4 billion expansion project under way to reinvigorate the Disney California Adventure theme park.
The hope, according to Disney, is to transform its Southern California properties into a multiday resort destination, a project that began in 2001 when the Disneyland Resort concept was created with the opening of Disney California Adventure, the Downtown Disney district and Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.
World of Color has been five years in the making and sets into motion expansion plans at the California Adventure park that will continue with a Little Mermaid attraction in 2011 and a 12-acre Cars Land that will be unveiled in 2012.
"We don't want the guests to choose between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure," said George Kalogridis, president of Disneyland Resort. "Our goal is that they come two full days."
While none of the Disney executives at the World of Color premiere event earlier this month directly addressed the challenges that have reportedly faced Disney California Adventure since its opening, Randy Garfield, president of the Walt Disney Travel Co., explained that with the expansion project the company is attempting to return to the strengths of the brand with greater character involvement in the California Adventure park.
"The primary enhancements are introducing more Disney and Disney/Pixar characters ... [and adding] product that tells a story," said Garfield.
Garfield said the expansion project would cost $1.4 billion.
In the past, it was estimated that it would cost between $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion.
After Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment in a $4 billion deal last fall, rumors immediately started swirling about a theme park home for Marvel's portfolio of characters, including iconic action heroes, such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Captain America and the Fantastic Four.
"Marvel came too late for this current expansion," said Bob Weiss, executive vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering and portfolio creative leader for the California Adventure expansion project. But, he added, "we should certainly think it's a great opportunity."
Kalogridis said that there is room in the Anaheim complex to add action hero attractions in the future. Disney destinations
Next year will mark another enhancement to the Disney Destinations' West Coast product offering: the repositioning of Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder from Port Canaveral in Florida to Los Angeles.
The ship will sail seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises out of Los Angeles before and after spending four months sailing in Alaska.
The company was mum about whether Hawaii was in the cruise line's future as a link to Disney's first property on the islands, the $800 million Aulani in Ko Olina on Oahu, slated to open in 2011.
As the building of Aulani continues, one thing Garfield wanted to make clear about that property is that "we're absolutely not building a theme park in Hawaii."
In addition to the resort, Garfield announced that guided tour experiences would be offered in Hawaii, although he said it was too soon to provide additional details about the Hawaii tour product. This report appeared in the June 21 issue of Travel Weekly.