A Brawl in Mickey's Backyard

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Discussion Case: A Brawl in Mickey’s Backyard Outside City Hall in Anaheim, California—home to the theme park Disneyland—dozens of protestors gathered in August 2007 to stage a skit. Wearing costumes to emphasize their point, activists playing “Mickey Mouse” and the “evil queen” ordered a group of “Disney workers” to “get out of town.” The amateur actors were there to tell the city council in a dramatic fashion that they supported a developer’s plan to build affordable housing near the world-famous theme park—a plan that Disney opposed. “They want to make money, but they don’t care about the employees,” said Gabriel de la Cruz, a banquet server at Disneyland. De la Cruz lived in a crowded one-bedroom apartment near the park with his wife and two teenage children. “Rent is too high,” he said. “We don’t have a choice to go some other place.” The Walt Disney Company was one of the best-known media and entertainment companies in the world. In Anaheim, the company operated the original Disneyland theme park, the newer California Adventure, three hotels, and the Downtown Disney shopping district. The California resort complex attracted 24 million visitors a year. The company as a whole earned more than $35 billion in 2007, about $11 billion of which came from its parks and resorts around the world, including those in California. Walt Disney, the company’s founder, had famously spelled out the resort’s vision when he said, “I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in Disneyland. I want them to feel they’re in another world.” Anaheim, located in Orange County, was a sprawling metropolis of 350,000 that had grown rapidly with its tourism industry. In the early 1990s, the city had designated two square miles adjacent to Disneyland as a special resort district, with all new development restricted to serving tourist needs, and

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