Thursday, February 17, 2011
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Disney theme parks are enormously successful in the United States. Families flock there at all times of the year. Disney’s best customers are repeat customers. When Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983, it was more popular than Disney ever imagined. With one foot in to the international area, Disney decided to conquer Europe. They scouted out possible locations and decided on an area outside of Paris, France. The deciding factors that led to France were available space, convenient location in Europe, and possibly most encouraging support from the French government. Disney was optimistic about the success of Euro Disney and they spent lavish amounts constructing the park. The location was prime with 310 million Europeans just a 2 hour flight away; Disney expected to make over $100 million in their first year. Almost $3 billion was spent on the park and surrounding hotels. The castle was built with extra attention to fit with its European background (where actual castles can be found). With all this hype who would expect the enormous losses Euro Disney suffered in its first year? The park lost over $900 million, not even close to the expected $100 million profit. Were there signs that Disney missed? Looking back on the sentiment of the French during the construction of the park, Disney should have been more careful. A criticism from Ariane Mnouchkine, a Paris theater director, described Euro Disney as “a cultural Chernobyl.” Disney also did not account for European vacation habits. Most Europeans are not willing to take their children out of school for a trip to Disney. Instead families take month long vacations in the summer. Factories and business even shut down to allow employees to take these vacations. Families did visit Euro Disney, but only as a pit stop on the way to their final vacation spot. And probably most detrimental is that families spent less time in at the park than predicted. While American families spend 3-4 days at the parks, the average stay at Euro Disney was only 1-2 days. A slumping economy also kept guests from visiting the park in the first place. After a bailout of Euro Disney parent company, Disney. The new park started to make some adjustments to attract the European audience. The park name went through some changes and ultimately became Disneyland Paris. Park prices were lowered and hotel prices were cut by 30%. A new marketing plan targeted individual countries in advertisements. In 2001, Walt Disney Studios Theme Park was added to Disneyland Paris. This new addition was designed with the French audience in mind, and could accommodate conventions which were always more profitable than expected. With the new additions and refocused marketing plan Disneyland Paris started turning a profit and now attracts more guests than the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre combined. After years of trial and error in Europe, was Disney ready to start another park? Plans for Hong Kong Disneyland began in the early 2000s. This time around park designers took special care to accommodate Chinese guests. A feng shui master was consulted during construction. Disney was more successful in Hong Kong but they did make some big cultural mistakes, similar to Euro Disney. Original commercials advertising the park feature a family with 2 kids. Really Disney? It didn’t come up in research that Chinese are only allowed one child? Lack of Research
Euro Disney was a huge investment for the Disney Corporation. So when the park was unsuccessful it became an even bigger failure. The park lost money...
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