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Last ESPN Zone Closes As Disney Makes Way For New Disneyland Hotel

The last surviving ESPN Zone restaurant has closed its doors this month as The Walt Disney Co. prepares to construct its newest hotel at the Disneyland Resort.

The ESPN Zone in Anaheim officially closed June 2, marking an end of an era for the sports and entertainment restaurant chain. 

ESPN Zone in Anaheim

In its heyday, nine ESPN Zone restaurants anchored attractions in major cities, including LA Live in downtown Los Angeles, New York New York in Las Vegas and Times Square in New York. 

The closure is part of a much broader plan by Disney to revamp the northern part of its Downtown Disney retail, entertainment and restaurant outdoor strip for the development of a luxury hotel on 17 acres.

A Disneyland spokeswoman said a nearby Starbucks and the AMC Theatres are also scheduled to close in June for the project. An Earl of Sandwich and Rainforest Café restaurant closed this past weekend.

Disneyland spokeswoman Melissa Britt said Disney is negotiating with some of the affected tenants to possibly operate inside of the hotel.

About 70% of the 200 or so ESPN Zone employees were offered jobs at a different part of the Disneyland Resort. Those who were not offered jobs received severance packages.

“Please note this is a small portion of Downtown Disney,” Britt said. “Downtown Disney remains open and vibrant, and we continue to add new experiences.”

Rendering of a new 700-room hotel coming to Disneyland Resort

She said the VOID/Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire virtual reality experience and Splitsville Luxury Lanes have recently opened. Other new tenants, including Salt & Straw, Ballast Point and Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes, are coming soon.

Disney was one of two companies that the city of Anaheim in 2015 awarded an estimated $500M in future transient occupancy tax for the development of a four-diamond luxury hotel. Wincome Group also received approvals for two hotels and broke ground last year on a Westin Anaheim next to the Anaheim Convention Center.

Disney and Wincome Group are embroiled in a labor battle with the unions representing hotel workers. If voters pass a ballot measure in November that would increase the minimum wage for workers in hotels that receive city subsidies, Disney and Wincome Group might walk away from planned projects in Anaheim.

With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland’s newest themed land, slated to open next year, the company is planning to develop a 700-room four-diamond hotel in anticipation of the expected boost in attendance. 

The hotel is being described as a contemporary-styled resort with a couple of pools, a kids' play area, a rooftop restaurant and a monorail stop that connects to Disneyland.  

Disney has not announced a groundbreaking date for the new hotel.