The Anaheim Economy: How Disneyland Has Changed this Old Town

Without the existence of Disneyland, Anaheim, California would in all probability be just another dot on the map. Its name is derived from a combination of the nearby Santa Ana River and a German word for home. Old Anaheim was established around 1857 by a group of German immigrants who were seeking an ideal place to cultivate grapes and acquaint America with all aspects of wine from cultivation to consumption. Originally, the City of Anaheim encompassed 1,165 acres of land purchased for $2 per acre. From an estimated population of 50 residents circa 1857, census statistics for 2016 estimate Anaheim has grown to a population of more than 350,000.

Disneyland’s Economic Impact on Anaheim, Orange County and Southern California

A June 2015 report from the highly-esteemed Arduin, Laffer, & Moore Econometrics estimates that Disneyland accounts for $5.7 billion of the area’s annual economy. This is a healthy increase from the 2005 figure of $3.6 billion and 2009s estimated $4.7 billion.

As Orange County’s number one employer, Disneyland itself provides income for more than 28,000 direct employees. In addition, an estimated 25,000 Southern Californians supply goods and services to the resort complex. The ALME assessment estimates that salaries and wages for these individuals amount to in excess of $2.2 billion.

2013 state and local tax figures reveal that more than $370 million were generated by Disneyland’s “cast members,” the term by which all Disneyland personnel are known, as well as the park’s visitors and goods/service suppliers. Almost all of these people (99 percent) reside in Southern California.

In addition to the aforementioned revenues, Anaheim is the recipient of $44.5 million for its general funding and $4.5 million to its tourism development coffers.

Disneyland’s Impact on Tourism for Anaheim, Orange County, and Southern California

While tickets for the Disney parks are notoriously expensive, there are several affordable options that bring in patrons of all types. Disney uses a wide range of promotions through a variety of vendors, offering discount Disneyland tickets and a reasonably-priced accommodation and activities packages through its partners. Thanks to these more affordable options, visitors to the parks spend an additional estimated $1.4 billion annually outside of the resort itself, plus an estimated $9.6 billion in the rest of the Orange County and Southern California areas.

In July 2015, Disneyland celebrated its 60th birthday since its original opening on July 17, 1955. From a visitor’s perspective, Disneyland is more than just an amusement park like Coney Island in Brooklyn or the famed boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey. According to a Philadelphia Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis spokesperson, Walt Disney’s vision was to create a virtual reality world as opposed to a conglomeration of rides, roller coasters and game kiosks where vendors offer prizes for shooting a target with a bow and arrow or popping balloons.

Walt Disney’s $17 million construction investment brought storybook land to life, complete with castles and a ride to the moon. Immediately upon entering Disneyland’s front gate, visitors are totally immersed in the fantasy worlds they remember from books and movies. Not only that, but they are immediately surrounded by cast-member personnel who are waiting to make their visit as enjoyable and unforgettable as possible.

The addition of Disney-themed restaurants, shopping venues, and even rest spots where visitors can sit down to catch their breath while watching other visitors pass by add to the sense of immersion. Meanwhile, no matter where you look, you will see visitors of all shapes and sizes, whether young or young at heart, wearing the iconic Mickey Mouse ears. Since Disneyland’s opening day, there have been an estimated 78.6 million pairs manufactured and sold.

The reason Disneyland has been able to stick around for so long and have such a dramatic impact on the area is the park complex’s attention to detail and desire to accommodate each of its millions of guests. This has been Disneyland’s target from the very beginning. According to an entry in the 1955 edition of the Disneyland handbook, the duty of every individual employed or contracted by the park is to assure every visitor that “We create a world they can escape to to enjoy for a few brief moments a world that is the way they would like to think it would be.”

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About the Author: Robert Cordray is a freelance writer and expert in business and finance. With over 20 years of business experience, Robert is now retired and hopes others can benefit from his writing.

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