Disney Cast Members make magic everyday for Guests at Disney Parks around the world. But what most Guests never see is the way they give back to their local communities. On Saturday, February 24th, I got to see first hand how Disneyland Cast Members improve the world around them through the Disney VoluntEARS program when they partnered with KaBOOM! to build their 10th playground in Anaheim.
Pearson Park in Anaheim is spacious and historic, with an amphitheater, aquatic park, tennis courts, plenty of green space, and duck ponds. However, the park I experienced lacked an organized play space for kids. KaBOOM! is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that all kids have access to safe and fun playgrounds, has partnered with Disney on 86 projects across the country. For the city of Anaheim, Pearson Park is their tenth collaboration.
Pearson Park is named after Charles Pearson, who served as Mayor of Anaheim from 1945 to 1959. Those years should be significant to any Disneyland fan as he was Mayor during Disneyland’s construction and early years. Formerly known as City Park, established in 1920, it was renamed Pearson Park in 1960 to celebrate the mayor that helped put this orange grove community on the map.
Disney VoluntEARS started their day at 8:00 am. The scope of the work included assembling the playground pieces, digging and pouring cement, moving tons of mulch and sand, and planting new trees. I arrived around 11:30 when about half of the play structure was assembled and piles of mulch and sand were taller than any volunteers on site. By 2:00, the structure was completely erected, the cement had been poured, and an army of VoluntEARS with rakes were leveling the mulch and sand.
To celebrate, Project Manager Amy Larson congratulated all of the volunteers, which in addition to Disneyland Cast Members also included local YMCA members and church groups. Several community leaders were on hand to celebrate this important addition to Pearson Park, including Anaheim Council Member Stephen Faessel, who grew up around the corner from the park and fondly remembers playing on the park’s original playground.
Disneyland Ambassador Alexa Garcia also joined in the fun and brought along her pal, Mickey Mouse! He showed up in a costume I’d never seen before, perfect for a day in a beautiful city park, and joined the kids from the YMCA for the ribbon breaking. The new playground needed time to dry, but officially opened to the public on Tuesday, February 27th.
Pearson Park is a short drive from the Disneyland Resort. Local kids were surveyed to find out what elements they would like in a playground and it was built to their specifications, including the blue, green, and purple color scheme. Like Disneyland, Pearson Park grows more beautiful every year, but it now has a touch of magic thanks to Disneyland VoluntEARS, the local YMCA, and Kaboom!
To see more from this special day in Pearson Park history, be sure to check out our video with highlights of the project and the ribbon breaking ceremony.
And for more photos, browse the gallery below.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.