And What Does Disney Require of Us? 1. MAGIC WAY!

“And what does Disney require of you?”

“To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

NO, NO, that’s what the LORD requires of you, according to Micah 6:8! The question was, “What does DISNEY require of us?” YOU know, the Lord of Anaheim! Well, there is a LOT that Disney is requiring of us Anaheim residents and taxpayers right now, as they gear up to get their Disneyland Forward plan passed by a usually-supine Planning Commission and Council.

And, of MANY huge sacrifices the insatiable Mouse is demanding of Anaheim this year (too many to list in this one story) as they prepare their expansion expected to bring them 10 million more visitors a year and billions more in income, one of the biggest is for us to allow them to increase the rush-hour traffic on Ball and Katella from bumper-to-bumper to LA Freeway parking-lot level. Which will be the inevitable result of their CLOSING OF MAGIC WAY, a publicly-owned Anaheim street.

ANAHEIM DOES NOT NEED TO AGREE TO THIS. Magic Way was built in the 90’s to compensate for Disney’s closure of Cerritos Avenue where it hits Walnut Street, to alleviate traffic way back then. And at least TEN THOUSAND CARS drive on Magic Way EVERY DAY, by Disney’s and the City’s own admission. And every single one of those cars, if Magic is taken, will be pushed out onto Ball or Katella. Physics is physics.

Have you driven on Ball, near the 5, or Katella near the 5? Do those streets need ten thousand more vehicles a day? And that’s BEFORE the expected influx of millions more “visitors?” We count on our Planning Commission and Council to say NO to that demand, and the Planning Commission “workshop” is today at 5, at City Hall.

Let’s first dispense with the total nonsense Disney’s slippery flacks have brought forward recently. VERY LATE IN THE GAME – after doing NO traffic study at all on the issue, they now bring out a brand new “study” they made during the rainy days of this past Feb. 1-4 (which they first called a “study,” then when we critics began calling it a “study” they laughed and said “it’s not a study, it’s just a ‘count'”.) And the Disney flacks claim that this study or count shows, “Yes, ten thousand cars use Magic Way every day, but 99% of them are Disney customers and employees.” Are you familiar with the term “red herring?”

Leave aside that the claim is certainly not true, it makes ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE to the problem. Even if it WAS only 100 of us local residents and 9900 customers/employees every day using Magic Way, closing the street will STILL push all 10,000 out onto Ball and Katella all day. Who cares if the drivers are wearing dumb little hats or not? (It’s not like Disney has plans for some secret tunnel or bridge just for their employees and customers!)

But that 1% claim is also almost certainly false (even if it does come from trusted Disney publicists!) We’ve spent a few early mornings, 7-10 am, holding signs and banners with signs like “Honk to Save Magic Way!” (which get honks from most cars.) And when we watch them heading east, MORE than half of the cars continue on to turn left on Disneyland Drive. That’s WAY more than 1%, who are using the public streets Magic/Disney as a shortcut to bypass Ball Road traffic and get to the 5.

Speaking of “shortcuts.” Last PC meeting Disney hauled out an old fellow, one of their traffic engineers from the 90’s, who claimed that Magic Way was “never intended as to be a ‘SHORT CUT’ for Anaheim residents” to get to the freeway. Leave aside “Go to hell with your ‘never intended,’ that street was compensation for Disney’s taking of Cerritos, and some of us remember.” Leave that aside, this guy made it sound like taking a SHORT CUT is some kind of moral failing. Well, call it an “alternate route” then – whatever you call it, folks who take this Magic Way shortcut are not only saving themselves time and gas, they’re also helping ALLEVIATE TRAFFIC on Ball or Katella, and doing a public service.


For whatever reason, Disney is hellbent on privatizing this particular stretch of public road, which they offer to buy at “market value,” which in no way compensates the city’s drivers for the added traffic we’ll be saddled with FOREVER. (They also want to purchase a couple smaller bits of public roadway that nobody has much problem with.) They offer to keep it open to pedestrian traffic, but only till 10pm or so – the homeless you know.

And true to form, they’ve been very sneaky about their desire and plans for the street. When we first met with them, it was “just a possibility, something we MAY go forward with,” and taking Magic Way was never mentioned in their literature and public outreach.

Then they began telling us that they were going to take Magic Way as a PUBLIC SERVICE, because SO MANY RESIDENTS wanted it closed. WHAT!? SERIOUSLY!? We know the neighborhood and couldn’t find ANYBODY who wanted it closed. “Oh sure,” said Joe Haupt, the slipperiest of Disney consultants. “We have hundreds of signatures of local people who want it closed.” “Hard to believe, can we see that?” we asked. “Sure, next meeting.” Next meeting he denied ever saying that. But he did say that MANY, MANY PEOPLE had e-mailed Council asking for Magic Way to be closed. Those are public record. And turned out to be all pre-written “astroturf” e-mails Disney had asked their passholders to sign and forward, and were NOT from folks in the neighborhood.

Oh but Disney can get a few dozen people to show up to Council meetings and say anything Disney WANTS them to say – it’s like a Superpower Disney possesses. And they don’t even LOOK like half-witted cult followers either, they are union leaders, hoteliers, local pillars of the business and nonprofit community, who SUDDENLY AGREE WITH DISNEY that Magic Way NEEDS to be closed – something they’d probably never even considered before. (It’s rude to point out, and a little sad, but if you listen to these speakers some of them actually pant like dogs as they speak, dogs waiting to be handed a treat.)

But the day is passing by, the PC Meeting is drawing nigh, and I must put off part two of this – part two of “What does Disney Require of Us” which is basically to HOUSE AT OUR EXPENSE the 13,000 new employees they expect to hire, along with the current ones who already need housing.

I’ll get to that one, but meanwhile and more urgently Cynthia Ward has just sent out a thorough and comprehensive call to POSTPONE THIS WHOLE PROCESS, which I shall publish here shortly. And let me repeat something I said at the last PC Meeting:

“Everyone likes Disneyland…

but some of us love Anaheim MORE.”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.