Election Section

Two restaurants closing operations at Disney’s California Adventure theme park

Wednesday October 03, 2001

ANAHEIM — Two high-profile restaurants are closing their doors at Disney’s California Adventure after failing to pack in big enough crowds at the struggling theme park. 

Disney spokesman Ray Gomez said Avalon Cove, a seafood restaurant owned by Wolfgang Puck Food Co., closed Monday. It was the first defection of a tenant since the theme park opened in February. 

Robert Mondavi Corp. also said it will no longer operate its Golden Vine Winery and restaurant but will remain a park sponsor. Disney will now take over control of the Mondavi attraction. 

“We want to eliminate further financial exposure,” said Nancy Light, a spokeswoman for the Oakville, Calif-based winery. The company will record a charge of more than $12 million related to its investment in California Adventure. 

A Wolfgang Puck spokesman declined to comment about the restaurant closure. 

The departures raise more concerns about lagging attendance and future prospects at the $1.4 billion resort that features a theme park, hotel and Downtown Disney development. 

When California Adventure first opened, Disney officials estimated about 7 million people would come through the turnstiles annually, or about 19,000 a day. 

But disappointing attendance prompted Disney to cut admission prices this summer from $43 to $33 for adults. Children accompanied by an adult received free admission through Labor Day weekend. 

Disney does not release actual attendance figures. But the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the park drew a daily average of about 4,500 people during the week before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

Both departing eateries were designed to help lure affluent tourists to the park. 

Avalon Cove was a 350-seat restaurant and lounge that sat overlooking a faux bay in the park’s Paradise Pier section. Gomez said a new restaurant will replace Avalon Cove, catering to families and children. 

At the Golden Vine Winery, visitors could sample various Napa Valley vintages, dine at its restaurant, or shop at its gourmet store.