The Ambiguous Connection between Theme Parks and Their Surroundings: The Example of Disneyland and Traffic Management

Special Report: Large Public Facilities
By Sophie Didier

This paper examines the link between the spatial organization of modern theme parks and the relations of their managers with local governments, by studying how the traffic generated by these centers is managed. This reveals that these amenities are connected to their local environments in an ambiguous way. This seems especially true concerning the original Disneyland (Southern California, Anaheim, opened in 1955): the park’s relations with its local environment combine a search for insularity and a search for efficient connection to major highway networks. This ambiguity is confirmed by the historical account of the relationship between Disneyland’s managers and local governments; in particular, it documents the company’s unwillingness to cooperate in solving the traffic problems that plague the tourist resort surrounding Disneyland, even though the company can be regarded as an expert in traffic management — if one refers to its achievements inside the park area.

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