Last year, in October 2017, Disney announced plans for a new luxury hotel at the West end of the Downtown Disney District set to open in 2021. The announcement boasted a 700 room, four-diamond hotel with an upper-level restaurant and lounge with a view of the Disneyland fireworks, shops and restaurants on the ground level, and a dedicated monorail platform inside the hotel for transportation into Disneyland. The plans also revealed gardens and landscaped walkways to connect the four hotels of the Disneyland Resort.
Concept art for the new hotel | © Disney
Because of the Downtown Disney location, quite a few existing businesses closed by the end of June to make way for the new hotel, including the Rainforest Cafe, ESPN Zone, AMC 12 Theatres, and Earl of Sandwich. Demolition and construction were set to begin in July 2018, however, a disagreement between Disney and the City of Anaheim has set back construction and could push back the 2021 opening.
On Aug. 15, Disney announced that they were putting construction of the hotel on hold indefinitely. This was in response to a letter sent to Disney on Aug. 6 from the Anaheim City Attorney, Robert Fabela, saying that a change in site plan makes the hotel ineligible for the expected tax incentive rebates. In 2016, the Anaheim City Council approved the project and a development agreement that would give Disney a rebate of 70 percent of hotel taxes collected on the site for 20 years. This agreement was site-specific though and the hotel was originally approved to be built at 1401 Disneyland Drive, the current Downtown Disney parking lot. Since then, Disney has moved the location to an adjacent location at 1601 Disneyland Drive, the West end of Downtown Disney.
The original and current proposed sites for the hotel | © Swetha Kannan/Los Angeles Times
A few days after the announcement to put the project on hold, on Aug. 21, Disneyland President Josh D’Amaro sent a letter to city leaders requesting that they end the tax incentive agreements. Could this be Disney trying to make peace with Anaheim? Since this letter, there has been no word from Disney on when or if the project will continue. Will construction of the hotel start soon enough for a 2021 opening as planned? And how much longer will the end of Downtown Disney remain empty with the remains of the closed businesses? Stay tuned for updates as they come.