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March 17, 2011
The Walt Disney Co. is donating at least $2.5 million to relief efforts after last week's earthquake and tsunami in Japan, where its theme parks remain closed, the company announced Tuesday.
The company also promised to match employees' donations to two relief organizations — Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Fund and Save the Children — up to $1 million total to help victims of Friday's earthquake and tsunami.
Visitors enjoy an 11-minute and 20-second ride in a Venetian Gondola, piloted by Japanese gondoliers, through Palazzo Canals, at Tokyo DisneySea in the 2001 photo. The theme park is closed because of last week's earthquake in Japan. Disney announced a $2.5 million donation to earthquake relief efforts.
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The Disneyland Resort, part of the Disney company, is Orange County's largest employer with 21,000 workers at two theme parks, three hotels and the Downtown Disney district.
Steven Valkenburg, a parks food and beverage employee, said Tuesday morning that he had yet to hear about the matching donations, but he wasn't surprised that the company is helping out. Valkenburg said he plans to give money to the cause and get matching funds.
"I think it's a great opportunity to be able to help people somewhere else. And it's horrible what has happened to them. Everyone needs to step up and help out," said Valkenburg, vice president of Workers United Local 50, which represents about 3,200 park food and beverage employees.
"It's nice that Disney has stepped up and helping us help other people."
In Japan, Tokyo Disney Resort has two theme parks, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, as well as three hotels and other venues.
After the earthquake, thousands of visitors were stranded in the two parks overnight because of transportation problems, according to the Los Angeles Times. All Disney visitors have been able to leave the resort since the earthquake, according to a Disney Parks blog updateTuesday
Disney reported minor injuries and property damage. The venues remain closed at least until March 21, when Disney officials plan to evaluate the situation.
Tokyo Disney Resort is owned by the Oriental Land Co. Ltd., which operates the venues, according to a Disney fact sheet. The resort, which opened in 1983, sits about six miles east of Tokyo.
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