You Just Completed a Day of Sessions . . . What Will You Do?
by Johanna Ebner,
ASA Communications Assistant
If your answer isn’t “I’m going to Disneyland” then maybe you should reconsider. Disneyland, the American icon, is Anaheim’s major attraction, enlarging with the recent opening of Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney. The Convention Center has also been renovated.
The cost of the projects is $1.4 billion and is expected to add a minimum of $6 million in new net annual revenue to the City’s General Fund. The City of Anaheim, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau, and The Walt Disney Company launched this economic development after a study reported that, without major changes, Anaheim would face a decaying infrastructure and loss of market share, leading to a decline in the tourism market.
The visitor industry plays a major role in shaping Orange County’s economy. Annually, the county attracts 38 million domestic and international visitors. In FY 1999 alone, visitors spent $5.9 billion throughout the county on transportation, accommodations, dining, recreation, and shopping. Also, the income from visitor spending supports 152,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, in Orange County. A large reason for attracting a great number of tourists is due to the Walt Disney Company industry within Anaheim.
Disney’s California Adventure, 55 acres, is adjacent to the original Disneyland Park. The newest park’s theme is celebrating the fun, diversity, and pioneering spirit of the Golden State. The theme lands are Paradise Pier, featuring the California Boardwalk Amusement Zone and celebrating California’s beach culture with wild rides; Hollywood Pictures Backlot, bringing the movie and television business to life with “Disney Animation” to “Muppet Vision 3D”; and lastly, The Golden State, inspired by the innovative spirit of California’s people, looks at the commerce, industry, and agriculture that developed in California over the years. Some of the highlights of the theme park include a free-flight soaring adventure, an action-packed rafting ride, and a parachute drop. In addition, Disney partnered with Mondavi Wineries to create a tasting room, educational presentations, and a gourmet restaurant within the theme park as well as Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. The cost for a ticket into the theme park is $43 for adults and $33 for children.
Downtown Disney (300,000 sq. ft.), in the heart of the Disney Resort, is a pedestrian esplanade stretching from the gates of the theme parks to hotels within the Disneyland resort. The non-gated area features a lush, garden-like complex by day that transforms to a glittery zone by night. Opened in January, it features a 12-screen AMC movie theater, restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Restaurants include the Rainforest Café, Patina Group, La Brea Bakery, and Café Catal and Wine Bar. Other restaurants include a New York style restaurant, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, Latin dining, Y Arriba! Y Arriba!, and New Orleans style, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. The House of Blues Restaurant and the ESPN Zone feature dining and entertainment, and shopping for Disney and other items abounds. There is no admission fee to enter Downtown Disney.
Of course, if you are a traditionalist, there is always the original Disneyland theme park where you can meet famous Californians, Mickey and Minnie, and ride the Matterhorn and Space Mountain. Nicknamed the “happiest place on Earth,” Disneyland was the created in 1955 and is the original Disney theme park. Within Disneyland is Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, and Main Street USA. The newer sections include Critter Country and Mickey’s Toontown. In order to see all that Disneyland has to offer, a visitor to the park can take the Monorail around the park and see it from an aerial view. The culture of the “Enchanted Tiki Room” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” may not be traditional fare for sociologists, but the fantasy and nostalgia of the “Haunted Mansion” and “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” is enough to make even the most skeptical academic feel like a kid again. The cost is the same as the Disney’s California Adventure.
While Disney is, by no means, the only attraction Anaheim has to offer, it does provide the most well-known and largest tourist attraction in Orange County. It also has provided financial support as Anaheim expands. Besides its economic contribution, Disney offers entertainment, shopping, and restaurants in a fun, family-oriented context. Go ahead and discover social interaction at a Mouse’s level—whether you choose to observe it as a sociologist, or to just have fun!