“Making a Difference” is Orange County Business Council’s feature series that brings the face and voice of OCBC members to life by sharing how they’re making a difference in their communities.
For nearly 70 years, Disneyland Resort has created happiness in its hometown of Anaheim and beyond. OCBC recently caught up with Disney’s Lisa Haines to look at how the resort continues to make a positive impact in local communities while maintaining its status as a world-class tourism destination.
Q: Disneyland Resort has been making a positive impact in Orange County since it opened in 1955. From providing jobs, to being an economic leader, to giving back, tell us how your organization has been making a difference through the years.
A: Giving back has been part of our DNA since Walt Disney himself created this happy place. Today, we continue to honor Walt’s legacy of bringing magic beyond our park gates and into our surrounding communities.
The resort and our cast members have contributed to Orange County in many ways: from donating millions in cash and in-kind annually to local nonprofits, to thousands of hours served by our cast members – or Disney VoluntEARS. In fact, our Disney VoluntEARS complete hundreds of projects each year, including food packing and distribution events, reading bilingual stories to elementary students and so much more.
As Orange County’s largest employer, giving back to communities where our cast members reside is important to us. Our community workforce development initiative provides career readiness opportunities to Anaheim students and job seekers to help develop the workforce in Orange County. Through this initiative, we work with great organizations like Chrysalis and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County & the Inland Empire to provide programming, mentors, skill-building workshops and more.
We also invest in our Cast through programs like Disney Aspire, The Walt Disney Company’s education program that offers 100% tuition paid upfront at various universities, colleges and trade schools, including California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton College and more.
Q: Over the years, Disneyland Resort has continued to change and grow. In 2021, Disneyland Resort launched DisneylandForward, a collaborative effort with the City of Anaheim to update the land-use approvals established for the Disneyland Resort district in the 1990’s. What changes do you envision coming to the Disneyland Resort as a result of DisneylandForward and how will these plans make a positive difference in the community?
A: Disneyland Resort and the City of Anaheim have maintained a strong relationship for decades. The 1990’s approvals were visionary, transforming Disneyland into a multi-day family resort destination. DisneylandForward is a blueprint for the future and a planning effort that will update those approvals, unlocking new and creative possibilities for integrated development throughout existing Disneyland Resort properties.
The potential updates offer a promising outlook for the future of the Disneyland Resort, with the potential to bring fresh, immersive and fun experiences to visitors, while at the same time creating new jobs and driving incremental tourism to the region. The plan also includes significant investments in transportation, parking, and pedestrian safety measures to improve mobility throughout the Anaheim Resort area. Overall, DisneylandForward represents a bold step towards a more vibrant and dynamic Disneyland Resort.
Q: When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955, no one could have imagined the powerful economic engine and tourism driver the Disneyland Resort would become in Anaheim, Orange County and the state of California. As the resort considers future investment in our region, what potential economic benefits could be realized?
A: We have seen over time how our investments like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have sparked additional visitation to the Anaheim Resort area, generating business development, additional jobs and tax revenues, both in Anaheim and beyond. In fact, the Woods Center for Economic Analysis and Forecasting at Cal State Fullerton recently completed a forward-looking study that demonstrated the potential of future investment at the Disneyland Resort. Their analysis showed that for every billion dollars invested in its theme parks, the Disneyland Resort would generate about 4,500 jobs, $11 million in tax revenue, and $1.1 billion in economic output in Anaheim alone. If approved, DisneylandForward could unlock investment that will enable thousands of new jobs and drive significant revenue back to Anaheim and California. From Cars Land to Avengers Campus, when we’ve invested in our theme park experiences, we’ve seen a multiplier effect that has increased employment, investment and spending well beyond our gates. We look forward to continuing that trajectory.
Q: How can residents, businesses and fans learn more about DisneylandForward and the difference it could make in the community?
A: To stay informed and get involved, community members can:
Attend Community Coffees and events: These events hosted in Anaheim parks offer an excellent opportunity to engage with representatives from the Disneyland Resort, ask questions, and learn more about the DisneylandForward initiative.
Visit DisneylandForward.com: The website serves as a central hub of information about the project. It provides historical context about Disneyland Resort, outlines the limitations and restrictions surrounding the project, and highlights upcoming events where stakeholders can participate and gather more insights.
Explore Renderings and Maps: DisneylandForward.com offers renderings and maps of the types of projects from other Disney theme parks worldwide that could serve as inspiration for future experiences in our Anaheim theme parks, allowing visitors to imagine some of the possibilities for future development.
By actively participating in these outreach initiatives, our residents play a vital role in shaping the future of DisneylandForward and the next generation of the Disneyland Resort.
DISNEYLAND RESORT BY THE NUMBERS
100 years of The Walt Disney Company
68 the anniversary Disneyland Resort celebrated this year
34,000 Anaheim-based Cast Members at the Disneyland Resort
39,587 hours volunteered in 2022
$9.5 million in community support in 2022
330 organizations supported in 2022
$5.5 million over five years to support nonprofit workforce development programming in Anaheim