Western Courier

Disney’s feud with Anaheim shows a harsh side of the franchise

Joshua Defibaugh, Copy Editor

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Throughout September of this year, Los Angeles Times reporter Daniel Miller was investigating Disneyland and its influence on the city it inhabits, Anaheim. In a well-written piece, Miller explains how, at best, Disneyland provides jobs for tens of thousands of Anaheim locals; however, at worst, Disney gives little more back to the community than average wage jobs.

In the first four paragraphs, Miller explains just how lucrative anything with a Disney logo attached is. The parking garage — that costs $20-35 for a day’s worth of parking — brings in over $35 million in annual revenue. And that’s just the parking garage at half capacity. Disney defenders and people pro-corporate positions could argue that the Walt Disney Co. built that parking garage. They can charge whatever they want and make as much money as possible. However, as Miller explains, that line of thinking is absurd.

Anaheim built the garage, which cost over $100 million. The city charges Disney just one
dollar a year for the lease.

“More than 20 years after Anaheim agreed to pay for the parking facility as part of Disneyland Resort’s expansion,” Miller wrote, “it has become a symbol of the city’s complicated and increasingly tense relationship with its biggest and most powerful corporate citizen.”

Disney’s annual profits increase every year with its acquisitions — of such titles and franchises like Star Wars and Marvel — and corporate leveraging; however, it fails rightfully pay back Anaheim for its subsidies, incentives, rebates, and protections, which, according to public policy experts, could be worth more than $1 billion.

In response to the negative but true coverage, Disney barred Times’ film critics from screenings. In a letter that ran with their 2017 holiday movie preview, the Times explained: “This year, Walt Disney Co. studios declined to offer The Times advance screenings, citing what it called unfair coverage of its business ties with Anaheim. The Times will continue to review and cover Disney movies and programs when they are available to the public.”

Although Disney walked back its ban on the Times’ film critics, it showed a remarkably, corporately callous move from a company that, on its surface, has produced some of the most family-friendly movies from the past 80 years but, down below, in the corporate underbelly, is a scheming business so big and so bent on world domination, it often steps over itself trying to get ahead. That may sound like hyperbole, but consider this.

We know that Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars. We know they still have a lucrative relationship with Pixar Animation Studios. We may even be aware that Disney owns Touchstone pictures. But there’s much, much more.

Disney owns ESPN and all of its affiliate channels. Disney also owns ABC Television Group, which produces ABC News. Disney owns A&E Networks, which include the FYI channel, the History channel, the Lifetime movie network and even has a sizable stake in the seemingly radically independent Vice Media, which produces Vice News for HBO.The list goes on and on, including books, magazine, local radio and television networks, video games and even venture capital firms.

The Walt Disney Co. earned an astounding $55 billion in revenue last year. Not only can they afford to pay back what they owe to the city of Anaheim, they could also afford to lower ticket prices to give more low and middle income people and families opportunities to go to the Disneyland, which start at $97 per day for children aged 10 and up.

The Walt Disney Co. today is just too big and its power is too overreaching. These problems won’t likely change, though. And a corporate boycott would be worthless, since some people would have to drop their media consumption entirely to boycott the whole of Disney. Though, maybe that’s worth doing.

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Disney’s feud with Anaheim shows a harsh side of the franchise