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Friday, August 7, 2015

The Story of DISNEYLAND: The Outside World

When Walt Disney chose Anaheim to build his Magic Kingdom in, he purchased as much land as he could afford and that his brother would allow. He knew that his theme park would be successful and lamented the lack of control he would have on the surrounding land after DISNEYLAND proved to be successful. Since Mr. Disney couldn't buy more land, he tried to get some of his wealthy Hollywood friends to invest in Anaheim, promising to buy the land at a later date. Unfortunately, none of them chose to take the risk. Mr. Disney then pled with the City of Anaheim to try to control the area around the park, to carefully choose which sort of businesses would be permitted.

The City of Anaheim, however, wouldn't take Walt Disney's advice. When DISNEYLAND proved to be a success, the land around the park was quickly snapped up, often by small time operators who bought oddly shaped parcels on which to build garish motels.

As long as the buildings didn't fall down, the City of Anaheim approved them. Electrical lines were strung up willy nilly with no regard to aesthetics. As perfect as DISNEYLAND was inside the gates, the area around it often looked tacky.

While many of the buildings did have a mid-century charm, there was so little oversight given as to design, that they often clashed with buildings right next door. As Mr. Disney himself pointed out, it was beginning to look like a third class Las Vegas outside DISNEYLAND.

Even worse, the City of Anaheim permitted incompatible land uses close to the park. Housing tracts were allowed close to the DISNEYLAND Resort area, filled with people who would eventually complain about DISNEYLAND's fireworks and traffic. Anaheim's choices were a perfect example of what not to do.

Walt Disney Productions has tried to buy as much land as they could acquire over the years, but stubborn landowners clinging to their 1960's era motor lodges won't sell at any price. It was the haphazard and poor planning of Anaheim's planning department that led to Walt Disney looking east to Orlando. Though things wouldn't work out there either.