Disney’s Canceled Theme Park: WestCOT

Rendering of what WestCOT could be
Credit: Disney

It’s always exciting to imagine what a new Disney theme Park would be like. And it’s also just as fun to look back and examine the many Disney theme Parks that were planned but never built. Introducing WestCOT…

The History

In the 1990s, Disney CEO Michael Eisner wanted to expand the Disneyland footprint in California. He ambitiously sought ways to turn the Anaheim area into a multi-day vacation destination like Walt Disney World.

Michael Eisner with Mickey Mouse

Credit: Disney

The plan created by Imagineers was a massive project that was estimated to cost about $3 billion. The expansion included a new theme Park called WestCOT, a new hotel, parking garages, shopping and dining areas (similar to Downtown Disney/Disney Springs), and transportation between the offsite parking lots via a people mover and monorail line.

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WestCOT Plans

The original WestCOT plans were announced in 1991. It was to be built across from the current theme Park on land previously serving as Disneyland’s parking lot. It was initially intended as an alternative version of Walt Disney World’s EPCOT. Although it wouldn’t be an exact replica, it was to include multiple clones of popular EPCOT attractions and a scaled-down version of the World Showcase.

EPCOT Spaceship Earth

Credit: Disney

The Park’s center would have its own geodesic sphere housing the Spaceship Earth attraction. However, this version was to be nearly double the size at about 300 feet tall. It would have been painted gold, encased with a metal frame, and stand as the world’s largest theme Park icon. Named SpaceSTATION Earth, the dome would have sat on a lush island called Venture Port which would have provided pathways to the many theme Park sections.

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Future World

Like EPCOT, the front of the Park would have featured a Future World area. Unlike EPCOT, though, WestCOT would have had three separate pavilions: Earth, Space, and Life. The pavilions would have included many EPCOT attractions such as Journey Into Imagination, The Living Seas, Wonders of Life, and Living with the Land.

Dreamfinder Original Journey Into Imagination in EPCOT

Credit: Disney

World Showcase

Instead of the same World Showcase that EPCOT offered visiting Guests, WestCOT would offer four smaller pavilions: Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. This was due in part to the space restrictions of the smaller Park.

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The Asian section was to be heavily influenced by China and Japan and include such attractions as a steel rollercoaster called Ride the Dragon and a carousel of mythical Asian animals.

China Pavilion

Credit: Disney

The European area would have included influences from famous European cities such as London and Paris.

France Pavilion

Credit: Disney

The African Corner would have had a whitewater river raft ride, an exhibit on farming culture, outdoor African drummer entertainment, and a grand Egyptian palace (after the Park’s expansion).


Credit: Disney Parks

And finally, there would have been the Americas Pavilion. It would have had a clone of the American Adventure and dining and shows dedicated to Mexico and Canada.


Credit: Disney

What Happened?

WestCOT was overly ambitious and incredibly expensive. After the company had opened EuroDisney, it was not as well received as they had hoped. For the first couple of years, it failed to turn a profit or see the number of Guests that Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom often enjoyed. The financial strain made executives begin to scale down WestCOT plans as the company struggled financially.

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In addition, residents who lived nearby expressed concerns that the WestCOT Park would cause too much light pollution at night and the Space Station Earth icon would be an eyesore towering over the city.

There was also further pushback from many local businesses who would have been forced to shut down and relocate as Disney would have encroached upon their property.

The entire expansion and the WestCOT Park were officially canceled in 1995. Disney California Adventure was later built in its place a few years later utilizing the same space previously earmarked for WestCOT.

Pier View of Disney California Adventure

Credit: Disney

During his tenure as Disney CEO, Michael Eisner oversaw the opening of Disney MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios), Animal Kingdom, Disney’s California Adventure, EuroDisney (now Disneyland Paris), Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney Studios Park (Paris), and Hong Kong Disneyland. It was a great time to be a fan of Disney theme parks, as a new one was being built every couple of years (if even to lukewarm reception).

Michael Eisner with Disney characters

Credit: Disney

Talks of a new expansion to the Disneyland Resort titled Disneyland Forward have been circulating lately—however, those plans, like WestCOT, may be too ambitious, especially as the company struggles with a dropping stock price and layoffs.

It’s been over 25 years since Disney has built a new theme Park in America. And until a fifth gate is greenlit in Orlando or a third Park opens in Anaheim, theme Park fans must make do with Epic Universe.

About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)