Disneyland Paris

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Walt Disney Company had always been successfully operating theme park until 1992. Starting in 1955 where the first Disneyland set its foot at Anaheim, California and in 1983 in Florida (Hill, 2000). While in 1983, Disney faced a true challenge as they opened the first international Disneyland in Tokyo. In a fear of wide cultural differences between American and Japanese, it turned out an unexpected massive successful Tokyo Disneyland. As a result, Disney did not hesitate to invest a big sum of money for Euro Disney in Paris.

However, the expectation of a successful first Disney theme park in Europe was just a dream. There were barely 50,000 visitors on the opening days while it was expected 500,000 visitors (Hill, 2000). Euro Disney failed to attract local visitors due to some factors that also contributed poor performance during its first year operation. Enforcement or ethnocentrism tendency of American culture to be followed in the park which were resulting in controversies, little knowledge of local culture, and Global recession at the end of 1980s and intense competitions were the main factors of Euro Disney’s poor performance.

Euro Disney completely copied American Culture to Europe due to an unexpected success of Tokyo Disneyland which also did the same (Lainsbury, 2000). They thought that French could easily accept American culture as what the Japanese did. However, French are really proud of their culture, such as language, history, and country (Euromonitor International 2012). They have their own lovable cartoon characters. Without the mixture of France’s and America’s cartoon characters, Euro Disney failed to attract local people. Followed by the policy of Euro Disney, any alcoholic beverages were not allowed within the park. This was again a proof that Disney did not respect the local culture. French is the biggest consumers of wine, so that a meal without wine is out of mind. It leaded to controversies and debates which Ariane Mnouchkine, a Parisian stage director mentioned it as cultural Chernobyl (Chu & La Vallee, 2002).

The American culture enforcement also affected its employee’s policies. One of the main problems was the American managers requiring all meeting conducted in English (Hill, 2000). As have mentioned before, French are really proud of their culture including their language. The enforcement in using English in every meeting that attended by the majority of French were just unthinkable. The appearance of the employees was also strictly limited with the American standard. This was considered as a violation towards individual liberty which is illegal under the French Law. As a result, employees’ satisfaction and the quality of work decreased tremendously.

Disney was not knowledgeable about the local culture, thus, everything was based on the wrong assumption which affected the constructions, designs, and park management. The restaurant was downsized as the Disney executives received wrong information that Europeans does not take breakfast. As a result, 350-seat restaurant could not accommodate 2,500 people, the waiting line was terrible, and the guests’ satisfaction decreased badly. Besides that, wrong assumption also affected the park staffing schedule. A general assumption of Monday will be light day for visitors while Friday the heavy one was not applied for the French. Wrong assumption caused oversupply of employees on Monday and shortage of employees on Friday and the final result was unhappy and unsatisfied guests.

The naming of the Euro Disney contributed to the poor performances of it. Lack of local culture knowledge was the biggest cause. Disney’s CEO, Michael Isner mentioned that ”As Americans, the term Euro means glamorous or exciting, but for Europeans, it associated with business, currency, and commerce” (Synder, 2002).

One of the factors that out of Disney’s control was the global recession in the end of 1980s. During a recession time, job losses and...
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