Honolulu, Hawaii—In the late 1960s, the Disney Vacations franchise was born.
But when Disney CEO George Lucas announced that Disney would open its first Disney Vacancy Village, the first resort in California, it was not an easy sell.
“We didn’t get any word from Disney, but they were interested in seeing what it was going to be like,” says David Grosz, an associate professor of geography at the University of Hawaii.
“And the answer was just, ‘Oh, it’s a lot bigger than Disneyland.'”
Laguna Beach was the first Disney resort to open in California and had the biggest population of Disney Vacancies in history.
And it was the largest Disneyland in the United States when it opened in 1977.
The park is the centerpiece of a six-acre property known as the Laguna Hills, and it is home to a total of nearly 3,000 attractions, including a water park, an amusement park, a marina, a shopping mall, a theme park and a shopping center.
The park also hosts a water show, which is now the largest water show in the world.
The resort is the second largest in the state of California.
“Disney Vacancy Villages have become the centerpiece in California,” says Groswolds, who was a part of the development team that built Laguna Bay.
“They’re a key part of our tourism industry.”
Grosz says that, in order to stay on top of the park’s popularity, he and his colleagues at the Disney Resort Development Company were working with local businesses and the local government to set up the first Laguna resort in the city of Laguna.
“It was really important to have an anchor to bring back to the city and make sure that people are aware that we were in town and that we have been in town for years,” Grossz says.
“There were also a lot of people that we hired to help us do this.”
After the park opened in 1978, Disney Vacantages attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, but the resort has never been a major tourist attraction.
The company was unable to sell its business, and in 1983, the company shuttered the resort.
“In terms of growth, it is actually declining,” says Dr. Peter Siegel, who is director of tourism research at the Tourism Research Institute in California.
“You can’t see it, but it is declining.”
Despite the resort’s early problems, it did see a significant growth rate, especially after the park closed.
But it wasn’t until 2000 that Disney opened Laguna Springs.
The resort opened as a temporary, resort-like location, and after a couple of years of operation, the resort had the largest number of Disney guests in the country.
“We had about 3,300 guests, so it was an incredible success,” says Siegel.
“It was a great place to be in.”
Gensz says Disney was able to capitalize on the park to bring in new guests to the resort, but even after opening Laguna, the city had a difficult time keeping up with the demand for the park.
“At the end of the day, we had to do it by the numbers, and that meant doing something that was profitable for the resort,” Gensz explains.
“Disney really had to take a hard look at how much the resort was worth and if they could bring in more revenue by doing things like, for example, having water shows in the park and using it as a shopping and entertainment center.”
According to Siegel’s research, Laguna had the highest sales tax rate in the entire state, which also meant that Disney needed to increase the price of the resort to maintain the business.
“If you were to look at the overall cost of the property, it would be $1.3 million to $1 million,” says Wai Hoang, an adjunct professor at the university.
“If you look at that, the cost of operating a resort like that would be about $20 million,” Gersz adds.
“That’s almost half of the total value of the Disneyland resort.”
Siegel says that Disney is working to bring Laguna back, but that it has not made any major investments in the resort since opening.
“I think it’s just too late to do anything,” he says.
Gross says that while the resort is no longer a Disneyland, it will continue to attract tourists.
“The resort is still a part the Disneyland business, but Disney is not really the primary operator of the place,” Gosz says, adding that the company has had success with other attractions in the area, such as the theme parks in Anaheim, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
Gosz also says that the resort will continue in the future with a number of different attractions and activities, such a water slide