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3 New Themed Hotels to Replace Today's Hodgepodge of Lodges

May 09, 1991|BOB SCHWARTZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — So much for the tawdry little hotels along West Street.

Already bought up--and shut down--by the Walt Disney Co., such establishments as the Lamplighter and Princess motels will soon disappear altogether in favor of an elaborate hotel complex along the planned new Disneyland Resort's west flank, company officials said Wednesday.

The hotel-district plans--part of the $3-billion expansion project unveiled Wednesday--call for the construction of three new, themed hotels totaling more than 3,500 rooms, and the addition of a 300-room tower to the renovated Disneyland Hotel.

To complete West Street's image change, the road would be lined with palm trees, realigned to curve through the hotel complex, and would receive a new name: Disneyland Drive.

The company's tentative plans call for each hotel to be built in a distinctive style evoking different Southern California hotels and architectural landmarks.

At the south end of the hotel district near Katella Avenue, Disney foresees an 1,800-room, mid-rise hotel, the WESTCOT Lake Resort, that a preliminary master plans describes as evoking "the expanse of the Gardens of Hotel Green in Pasadena and the ambience of the Beverly Hills Hotel."

Visitors looking for a more historic experience might prefer the 960-room Magic Kingdom Hotel, which would be at the north end of complex. Company plans call for this low-rise hotel to be patterned after the 205-year-old Santa Barbara Mission.

Between these two hotels would be the renovated Disneyland Hotel, with its new tower, and the piece de resistance of the complex, the New Disneyland Resort Hotel: an 800-room luxury hotel that the company says will be reminiscent of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego County "with a touch of urban sophistication."

An artist's rendering of the New Disneyland Resort Hotel shows tourists sitting outside under thatched huts, overlooking swans and Venetian-style gondolas floating on a pond or lake.

All told, the hotel complex would contain about 5,000 rooms, or almost 20% of the projected 25,000 to 27,000 hotel rooms needed in the area when the entire project is completed. The target date for the opening of Disney's new theme park, WESTCOT Center, is 1998.

"We have not completed anything like a final phasing plan yet," said Alan Epstein, vice president for corporate development of the Disney Development Co. "We hope that at least the majority of the hotel rooms would open pretty much at the same time as the second theme park."

Four Disney-owned and operated hotels next to the theme parks would give the company much greater control over the quality of hotel services in the area--something Disney, not entirely happy with the surrounding hodgepodge of tacky motels, mid-sized inns and large hotels, has long wanted.

"Disney does not really care for the type of product that has fed off the Disney name for years," said Dave Philp, a hotel consultant with Kenneth Leventhal & Co. in Newport Beach.

But Philp added that many hotels in the area are likely to benefit from the expansion project's estimated 13 million new visitors per year by build-out in 1998.

"You have some hotels around there that have good track records, and they aren't going to go anywhere," said Philp. "They're not going to give up anything to Disney. They're going to fight like hell to keep their market share."

One hotel that hopes to benefit is the 501-room Pan Pacific, squeezed in between the new Disney hotel district and the planned WESTCOT Center. The Disney Co. had tried to purchase the 7-year-old hotel and include it in the new plan, but Pan Pacific owners rebuffed Disney's offers as too low. If the project goes forward as planned, the Pan Pacific would be flanked by new, flashy Disney hotels, but hotel general manager William Torresala passed that off as not a matter of great concern.

"Our intent will always be to be a contributor and collaborator with Disneyland and their efforts," Torresala said. "The issue here is not one of competition . . . having 5,000 high-quality rooms here puts us immediately in another dimension. It opens up Anaheim as a destination for a number of conventions."

And, said hotel-management consultant Rick Schwartz of Pannell Kerr Forster, a Newport Beach accounting firm, the Pan Pacific's location could make it a first choice among people looking for a less-expensive but still high-quality hotel room.

"Being across from WESTCOT puts them right there," Schwartz said. "They will be able to pick up on the overflow" from Disney hotels.

The Pan Pacific currently charges $90 to $150 a night for a room, while the existing Disneyland Hotel rates range from $125 to $195 a night.

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