Disney Swot

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Anti Disney links [http://www.geocities.com/~jmgould/disney.html] [http://www.saneasylum.com/articles/124] The World According to Disney by John Sterling Trading in Fantasies {draw:rect} Earth Island Journal. Summer 94

Vol. 9 Issue 3
p32+ {draw:rect} Few people would equate "Disney theme park" with "environmental threat." Most support Disney's wholesome brand of family entertainment because it offers people a respite from the stress of daily life. But Disney's friendly image has been under fire lately due to the financial woes of its Euro Disney park in France and over its current plans to build "Disney's America," an American history theme park, in rural Virginia. A careful look at Euro Disney and Disney's America reveals that the entertainment company is a surprising environmental enemy that covers open space with pavement, shopping malls, golf courses and hotels; creates traffic problems that increase air pollution; and encourages a psychological detachment from the natural world. Despite its environmental transgressions, Disney has received billions of dollars in bank loans and government subsidies to support its recent theme park projects. Kansas State University architecture professor Gary Coates is one of a growing number of professionals who have identified theme parks as inherent agents of environmental decline. "When we are in Disney World... we are inside someone else's story; we cannot tell what is reality and what is not," said Coates in Jerry Mander's book, In the Absence of the Sacred. Coates argues that theme parks create a preprogrammed fantasy world that excludes nature's randomness and unpredictability. As such, these parks lead visitors to believe that an environment can be sustained within a vacuum controlled by technicians and engineers. Euro Disney's Failure Walt Disney Co. is expanding its empire. Inspired by its successful Tokyo Disneyland, Disney borrowed $3.7 billion from 63 different banks, kicked in a paltry $220 million of its own cash, and built Euro Disney, a theme park and hotel complex 20 miles east of Paris. Many French citizens protested the mere idea of Disney schlock on Gallic soil, but Euro Disney opened in April 1992-- and has been losing money ever since. Euro Disney is far more than rollercoasters and snack bars. Built on almost 5000 acres of sunflower and beet farmland, the complex includes a theme park, six hotels with a total of 5200 rooms, a convention center, swimming pools, tennis courts and an 18-hole golf course. Such a colossal operation requires an equally colossal attendance to remain afloat. With 11 million visitors a year, Euro Disney is now Europe's largest tourist attraction, but the park has consistently suffered a 45 percent hotel vacancy rate and per-visitor spending is 25 percent lower than expected, due in part to the ongoing recession. In addition, while warm sunshine graces its sibling parks in California and Florida, cold, rainy weather plagues Euro Disney. In its first fiscal year, Euro Disney lost $928 million and it has surrendered $90 million in each quarter thereafter. In January 1994, 18 months after opening, Disney appealed to its creditors to rescue the project by the end of March, saying it might close the park, handing huge losses to both the banks and the holders of 170 million shares of Euro Disney stock. The creditiors had little choice. After four months of negotiations, the banks and Disney agreed to pump another $1.05 billion into the ailing park. In addition, the banks agreed to waive 18 months of interest payments, worth $280 million, and to defer debt payments for three years. If a developing country defaulted on such a loan from the World Bank, that country would be cut off from any further foreign aid, claims Christina Cobourn, coordinator of the Campaign on Debt and Development Alternatives. But, with Euro Disney on the brink of bankruptcy, banks and shareholders, not Disney, had the most to lose. After the bailout,...
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