Disneyland’s relationship with Anaheim is not always a happy one.
For 60 years, Anaheim has been home to Disneyland. The two have become almost synonymous during that time. When people ask where I’m from, I say Orange County and then they automatically think of Anaheim because it’s where Disneyland is. It’s a symbiotic relationship where one needs the other.
Though the two are entwined, they don’t always get along. As a corporate giant, Disney is heavily involved in Anaheim politics. As a city, Anaheim has to protect the interests of its citizens while as a business, Disneyland has to protect its own interests as well. Sometimes the interests clash like it did in 2007 and most recently in 2015.
In 2007, a developer named SunCal wanted to turn a mobile home park in the 2.2 square mile resort area into 1,500 homes, including 200 affordable homes.
Disney, understandably, didn’t agree with the idea of having housing in the resort area. Teaming up with business leaders, SOAR was created (Saving Our Anaheim Resort). Disneyland sued SunCal, and the case was settled out of court.
Disney ultimately won, but not without some opposition from the developer and Anaheim citizens who held demonstrations outside City Hall as the city council discussed the topic.
In 2007, Bob Iger commented on the developer issue saying that Disneyland is probably the best neighbor Anaheim ever had because it occupies 5% of the land, but generates 50% of the revenue as the largest employer in Orange County.
Most recently, Anaheim discussed the proposed gate tax. Though Disney has a history of winning these political arguments, some Anaheim citizens remain unhappy and continue to protest the perceived unjust treatment.
For example, if you visit Disneyland, there are specific exits with signs for Disneyland. While you could take exits like Lincoln off of the 57 freeway, that exit doesn’t have a sign for Disneyland. Why? It’s simple. Most of Lincoln isn’t up to Disney standards. The drive through a less affluent area includes a gentleman’s club. The exits with Disney signs have been beautified creating a better impression of the city for tourists.
Citizens in Anaheim see both areas, and view Disneyland as a juxtaposition of their current conditions.
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