“Never Built” is a fascinating new show at the A&D Museum in mid-Wilshire featuring fabulous, sometimes visionary plans for Southern California that never happened. As part of KCRW’s Design and Architecture coverage, we produced this four part series  on some of the most fascinating projects  that were never built. 


Artist’s rendering: Port Disney at Night

If you lived in Long Beach in the late 80’s, you heard a lot about Port Disney – a gigantic development slated for the downtown waterfront. The idea wasn’t the brain child of a Disney’s keen strategic planners – it sprang from the imagination of a few creative people who loved the idea of a theme park centered around the sea. It would have been a boon to the financially uncertain city… but after three years and $10 million in development, maybe it was better that Disney didn’t come to town. Here’s the story behind DisneySea. (For more pictures, check out this Progress City post or go to the A&D exhibit, of course.)

An artist's rendering of Port Disney

An artist’s rendering of Port Disney

DisneySea model

DisneySea model


Port Disney site plan


Canal Hotel at Port Disney

Thanks to Caitlin Borzi for production assistance.  

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  • donklos

    No Matt… it's not better that ther'e no Disney park in Long Beach. This was a fiasco of a boondoggle that was over negotiated to death. Greed and pompous arrogance kept LB from having a world class theme destination that would have changed the water front forever, brought in many millions in revenues, provided great jobs, a great city reputation, millions of tourists who visit and leave wads of money. So now we know Hankala was very responsible, and if the City had really wanted to make it happen it could have happened. The lack of vision then is the same poor leadership that allowed all the cracker jack apartments to be built in and around the city. Really, too bad it didn't happen.

    • Jim Hankla

      Disney couldn't get a permit from the Coastal Commission So you should check your history! Donklos!

  • http://blogs.kcrw.com/mattsmovies mholzman

    Hi "donklos" – While we could argue over whether it was good or bad, I don't think the city blew this at all. Getting this through the legislature was just more than Disney wanted to handle given, as it says in the piece, that at the end of the day their sights were really on Anaheim. In reading all the LB P-T articles from back then, I think the city – it's government and it's people – really handled the whole thing with great restraint and thoughtfulness.


  • cjsteinke

    Very fascinating discussion abut Disney Sea. But it turns out that in fact Disney Sea WAS built. Just not in Long Beach, California or in the US for that matter.

    Disney Sea was realized next door to Tokyo Disneyland!

    • http://blogs.kcrw.com/mattsmovies mholzman

      There's a lot of similarity to Toyko Disney Sea. But there's an awful lot that's different as well.

  • milk

    Maybe keeping whales in pools for entertainment was not an idea that creates the happiest place in the world.

  • http://blogs.kcrw.com/mattsmovies mholzman

    I don't know that they would have had any whales at Disney Sea.

  • semaphorephoto

    Anaheim was a far smarter project. Why would you want to build a park like this so close to SeaWorld.

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