Disneyland (though not allowed for this project because it is domestic!) is considered to be one of the most iconic global attractions on the planet due to its innovation, unique position as industry leader, brand recognizability, cross-marketing, and service philosophy and training (Economy, 2015). The purpose of this paper is to examine the significance and key features of Disneyland to tourists and its surrounding host destination, provide relevant statistical information, examine strengths and weaknesses and provide other data associated with the content of TDM 205 (Introduction to Travel & Tourism) and related majors, and share personal perspectives gleaned as a result of studying Disneyland as a tourist attraction. 

Disneyland: A Global Attraction

Section 1: Disneyland Overview

Disneyland Description & Significance

Image 1: Iconic characters in front of Cinderella’s Castle https://www.starlinetours.com/disneyland/
Graphic 1: Lee, V. (2020). Mickey and Friends Outside of Cinderella’s Castle [photo]. Disney Parks Blog. https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2020/01/disneyland-resort-announces-limited-time-offers-for-2020-kids-everywhere-and-southern-california-residents-can-play-for-67-per-person-per-day-with-3-day-1-park-per-day-tickets/

The Disneyland Resort, the first family entertainment theme park of its kind, was designed by Walt Disney for the purpose of creating magical experiences for guests. It is arguably the most recognizable and iconic manmade attraction on planet Earth (Adamson, 2014). From its solely economic and job-related contributions to the state of California, to its cultural crossover into other mediums from media to retail products; what was once a fledgling 1950’s concept has become an eleven-park empire. The parks alone earn 2.2 billion of the over ten billion operating profit for the company (Sylt, 2014, para. 1-2).

Disneyland Geography & Climate

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California, United States of America, along 42 miles of Orange County Coastline on the Pacific Ocean (Visit Anaheim, 2017). The annual high temperature is 78.4 degrees °F. Temperatures can reach into the high 80’s °F in the summer. Annual rainfall is 13.4 inches of rainfall (US Climate Data, 2017, sections 1 and 2). Mild temperatures and consistent demand for the park creates a year-round ‘busy season’ with fluctuations in daily park attendance based on school start/stop/break calendars and holidays more than weather (RMH Travel, 2017).

Host Destination Dynamics

Disneyland’s location with the highly developed economy of both the state of California in the United States of America, and its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and multiple other airports make it highly accessible to both domestic and international tourists. Reports of theme park crimes in Southern California are low, but Disneyland and other parks possess unique forms of crime such as shoplifting, counterfeit cash, credit card fraud, and burglary posing unique threats for law enforcement. The total amount of crime in Disneyland creates only a fraction of the total crime that occurs in Anaheim (Martin, 2017). Mass shooter incidents such as those occurring in nearby San Bernardino, California in 2015 and 2017 (50 miles from Disneyland) and near Pulse nightclub Disneyworld in Orlando have caused heightened publicity and the addition of heightened security and metal detectors in the park, but have not impacted park attendance (Bloom, Wynter, Pamer, & McDade, 2017; Vincent-Phoenix, 2015).  President Trump’s travel ban, issued in January of 2017 and currently held up in the 9th Circuit Court, is expected to hamper international tourism to the United States. The seven countries initially included in the ban are not major travel markets for Disneyland, but the verdict of the impact is still unknown (Zanona, 2017).

Classification & Ownership of Disneyland

Disneyland is a cross-category attraction, qualifying as a manmade, recreational, and entertainment attraction (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2013). Disneyland Resort is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of its Parks & Resorts Division. The property includes two theme parks, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Robert A. Iger serves as Chairman and CEO of the company and has been named one of Fortune magazine’s ‘Most Powerful People in Business’ multiple times (The Walt Disney Company, 2017). The company’s stocks are publicly sold and are currently priced at $112.07 per share (Nasdaq, 2017, section 1).

Key Features of Disneyland

Tourism & Tourists at Disneyland

Disneyland, California crosses into a variety of tourism niches, including leisure and recreational tourism, pop culture tourism, event tourism (Examples: Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, 60th Anniversary Celebration, Disney Weddings), and experiential tourism due to its immersive and active nature. Accessible tourism also exists at the Disney parks with elaborate systems for assisting those with special needs in accessing the rides (McWilliams/Types of Tourism, 2019; WDProMedia, 2014). 

Graphic 2: Piuchan, Manisa. (2018). Plog’s and Butler’s Models: a critical review of Psychographic Tourist Typology and the Tourist Area Life Cycle. Turizam. 22. 10.5937/turizam22-18835.

Disneyland’s business is made up of organized mass tourists (group travel, packages) and individual mass tourists (Baran, 2015). According to Plog’s Tourist Typology theory, is an attraction that ‘Near Psychocentric’ to ‘Midcentric’ travelers would prefer, as it is a familiar destination with all the amenities a traveler could enjoy at home, but with options for controlled adventure (McWilliams, 2019; Walker, 2011).

Disneyland Key Statistics

According to the Themed Entertainment Association’s 2015 report, Walt Disney Attractions had a combined 137,902, 000 visitors at its parks (TEA, 2016, pg. 9). Disneyland in Anaheim, with 18,278,000 visitors, was listed as number two on the Top 25 Amusement/Theme Parks behind the Magic Kingdom in Orlando with 20,492,000 visitors (TEA, 2016, pg. 12). At least 44,000 people enter the gates of Disneyland daily (Slim, 2014, section 6). The current cost of a two-day pass is $99.50 per day (Go Disney/Theme Park Tickets, n.d., section 1).

The city of Anaheim hosted over 23 million visitors in 2016 (Visit Anaheim, 2017, section 2). Disneyland is the largest employer in Orange County with over 25,000 cast members on the payroll (Slim, 2014, section 1).

Section 2: Impact, Strengths & Weaknesses of Disneyland

Strengths & Resources of Disneyland & Its Surrounding Destination

Disneyland’s location, moderate weather, and unique entertainment offerings have made it a theme park success story for over sixty years. Economically, it generates 5.7 billion dollars in financial activity in Southern California per year supporting countless subsidiary and support industries and related job positions that surround it (Martin, 2015, para. 2). The cultural popularity and success of Disneyland has been studied in hundreds of articles and books in attempts to understand its formula for success and duplicate it in other businesses and industries. Such permeation is described by the term ‘The Disney Effect’ as researchers have found that Disney has achieved a total saturation of culture in the United States and a growing reach around the rest of the world. The park’s ability to provide escape from harsh realities and harken back to Utopian ‘gentler times’ is cited as one of its great draws. The commitment of Disney fans from youth through adulthood is reported as both passionate and long term (Yoshino & McKibben, 2005).

Image 2: A Disney employee dressed as Aladdin is cuffed while blocking an intersection at a union protest for better treatment of Disney employees.  http://www.ocregister.com/2008/09/15/expert-union-hopes-to-wear-down-disney-with-bad-pr/  

Weaknesses & Barriers of Name of Attraction & Its Surrounding Destination

That impact of Disney’s permeation into culture is not all positive. Some researchers have labeled ‘Disneyfication’ as a washing-over of authentic representations of places, cultures, and people groups (Yoshino & McKibben, 2005). Environmentally, Disneyland generates a lot of waste, with 30 tons of trash collected per day, and over 12 million pounds per year. Recycling and solar programs help to mitigate some of the energy use, green waste, paper, plastic glass and aluminum in the park (Slim, 2014, section 4). Experiencing the ‘magic’ of Disneyland as a visitor is a different experience than working for ‘The Mouse.’ Members of the Unite Here Local 681 have been seen protesting outside of Disneyland purporting less-than-competitive wages in some positions and loss of benefits (The Associated Press, 2010).

Section 3: Critiques & Reviews of Disneyland

On the positive side, TripAdviser gave Disneyland park a 4.5 out of 5 ‘Excellent’ rating. One rating communicated “Loads of people, crazy wait times and expensive. In saying that, it is Disney and it is the happiest place on earth! We throughly {sic} enjoyed ourselves 13 rides plus electric parade. My tip is have a plan, maximize use of fastpasses and use the Disney app” (TripAdviser, 2017).

According to Mark Eades in the Orange County Register (2012), there are numerous problems at the park. These included ever-increasing ticket prices, hotel pricing, food pricing, crowds and long lines, broken rides/attractions, lack of comfortable shady seating, the intruction and cross-marketing of too many new product lines (example: Marvel comics), and poor Internet connectivity at the park (Eades, 2012). Note: See the end of this paper for a sample of what a strong ‘major related’ option looks like.

Section 4: Personal Perspectives/Review/Final Thoughts on Disneyland

I may be one of the few people on Earth who has not yet been to Disneyland. My parents are ‘anti-Disney’ and dragged us on extended camping trips through the National Parks in lieu of what they felt was ‘fake fun’ at Disneyland. This report has allowed me to look at the park and the company from new angles, and I have now placed a ‘Disneyland run’ on my calendar this summer to see if Disneyfication is good or bad. In a world where there are ugly realities all around us, I can see why children and adults-acting-like-children seek to escape into all things Disney.


Adamson, A. (2014, October 15). Disney knows its not just magic that keeps a brand on top. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/allenadamson/2014/10/15/disney-knows-its-not-just-magic-that-keeps-a-brand-on-top/#337a5de95b26

(The) Associated Press (2010, July 12). Hotel workers’ union protests at disneyland. The San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved from: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-hotel-workers-union-protests-at-disneyland-2010jul12-story.html

Baran, M. (2015, July 15). Jammed: Overcrowding at the world’s most popular tourism sites. Travel Weekly. Retrieved from: http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Tour-Operators/Jammed-Overcrowding-at-the-worlds-most-popular-tourism-sites

Bloom, T., Wynter, K., Pamer, M., & McDade, M. (2017, April 10). San bernadino shooting: man kills wife then himself; 1 of 2 students wounded has died. KTLA News 5. Retrieved from: http://ktla.com/2017/04/10/multiple-gunshot-victims-at-elementary-school-in-san-bernardino-amid-report-of-active-shooter-officials-say/

Disneyland Go (n.d.). Attractions. Retrieved from: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/attractions/disneyland/

Disneyland Go (n.d.). Theme park tickets. Retrieved from: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/tickets/

Disneyland Go (n.d.). Transportation. Retrieved from: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/transportation/

Eades, M. (2012, June 15). Top 10 problems at disneyland. The Orange County Register. Retrieved from: http://www.ocregister.com/2012/06/15/top-10-problems-at-disneyland/

Economy, P. (2015). 4 Powerful Secrets to Disneyland’s Success at 60. Inc. Magazine (May 22, 2015). Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/4-powerful-secrets-to-disneyland-s-success-at-60.html on 12/09/2019.

Goeldner, C.R., & Ritchie, J.R. (2013). Tourism Principles, Practices, Philosophies (12th ed.). NJ: Wiley & Sons.

Just Disney (2017). Disneyland’s History. Retrieved from: http://www.justdisney.com/disneyland/history.html on 12/09/2019.

Martin, H. (2015, June 11). Disneyland resort generates $5.7 billion in economic activity per year, study says. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-disneyland-resort-economy-20150611-story.html on 12/09/2019.

Martin, H. (2017, January 9). Theme park crime: Counterfeiters prefer disneyland, shoplifters like universal studios. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-theme-park-crime-20170109-story.html on 12/09/2019.

McWilliams, C. (2019). Ologies of Tourism Lesson. Retrieved from: Canvas Course on 12/09/2019.

McWilliams, C. (2019). Types of Tourism Lesson. Retrieved from: Canvas Course on 12/09/2019.

Nasdaq (2017, May 9). Walt disney (the) common stock quote & summary. Retrieved from: http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/dis on on 12/09/2019.

RMH Travel (2017). Disneyland crowd calendar. Retrieved from: http://www.rmhtravel.com/disneyland-365-crowd-calendar.html on 12/09/2019.

Slim, N. (2014, February 27). 17 Mind-boggling statistics about the disneyland resort. Theme Park Tourist. Retrieved from: http://www.themeparktourist.com/features/20140227/16405/17-mind-boggling-statistics-about-disneyland-resort on 12/09/2019.

Sylt, C. (2014, July 14). The secrets behind disney’s $2.2 billion theme park profits. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/csylt/2014/07/14/the-secrets-behind-disneys-2-2-billion-theme-park-profits/#334317a6584f on 12/09/2019.

Themed Entertainment Association. 2015 Theme Index: Global Attractions Report. Retrieved from: http://www.teaconnect.org/images/files/TEA_160_611852_160525.pdf on 12/09/2019.

TripAdvisor (2017). Disneyland park review. Retrieved from: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g29092-d103346-Reviews-Disneyland_Park-Anaheim_California.html on 12/09/2019.

United States Climate Data (2017). Anaheim weather averages. Retrieved from: http://www.usclimatedata.com/climate/anaheim/california/united-states/usca0027 on 12/09/2019.

Vincent-Phoenix, A. (2015). Disneyland resort update for december 21-27, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.mouseplanet.com/11259/Disneyland_Resort_Update_for_December_2127_2015 on 12/09/2019.

Visit Anaheim (2017). Visit Anaheim Destination Guide. Retrieved from: http://visitanaheim.org/sites/default/files/2017_destination_guide_c.pdf on 12/09/2019.

Walker, J. (2011). It’s Tourism: Concepts & Practices. NY: Pearson.

(The) Walt Disney Company. Robert a. iger: Chairman and chief executive officer. Retrieved from: https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/leaders/robert-a-iger/ on 12/09/2019.

WDProMedia (2014). Disneyland Resort—Accommodating Guests With Disabilities Policies. Retrieved from: https://wdpromedia.disney.go.com/media/wdpro-assets/dlr/help/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/dlr-disability-access-service_2014-12-09.pdf on 12/09/2019.

Yoshino, K., & McKibben, D. (2005, July 17). A park with a powerful spell. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/la-me-disney17jul17-story.html on 12/09/2019.

Zanona, M. (2017, January 31). Trump’s travel ban could hamper us tourism, business. The Hill. Retrieved from: http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/317003-trumps-travel-ban-could-hamper-us-tourism-business on 12/09/2019.

Sample Alternative Section 3: Criminal Justice Issues Associated with Disneyland

The Walt Disney Company has developed programs to prevent park attendees from experiencing harm. According to the company’s website (n.d.), these include workplace safety training, guest safety training via the ‘Wild About Safety with Timon and Pumba’ program, security personnel training, and product and Internet safety protocols. In the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Report on Safety (2008), numerous technologies have been developed including ‘Smart’ seat belts, improved secure station gates to prevent injuries when boarding rides, widespread video monitoring (visible and non-visible), and engineering for safety in ride design. ‘Mickey After Midnight’ is a shift of maintenance experts who inspect every ride and authorize use for the following day (Report on Safety, 2008).

From a security standpoint, there are 1200 security cast members who work in Disneyland and Disneyworld, along with official partnerships with local law enforcement and other emergency response organizations (Report on Safety, 2008). According to the Los Angeles Times (2017), Disneyland continues to experience property theft, and handle issues with counterfeit tickets and money, but has a substantially lower rate of violent crime incidents per person than the surrounding area (1.41 for every 1 million visitors) (graphic 1). 

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