Disney, the very word evokes magic in the minds of people young and old. As a brand that has catered to audiences since early 1923, it stands as a symbol of redemption from the mundane existence of daily life for people throughout world. Over the last few decades, the Walt Disney Productions Company has been in the industry of producing cartoons and quickly diversified into an array of operations, riding high on its brand equity. Most famous amongst its flagship projects have been the eleven theme parks situated at different locations that attract swarms of people on a daily basis. However, as we come to learn, a big name and successful past alone may not be sufficient for success away from home. Factors such as culture, conditions, the way of life and other calculated steps can be crucial. Involved in the art of making fairytales over the years, Disney’s European journey was not always a fairytale. Improper information, wrong approaches of marketing, inadequate market research and inability to cope with external factors could spoil the broth.
THE NOT-SO-WONDERFUL-WORLD OF EURODISNEY
THINGS ARE BETTER NOW AT PARIS DISNEYLAND
1. What are the factors contributed to EuroDisney’s poor performance during its first year of operation?
When Disney entered Europe with its EuroDisney theme park, it expected the same ethereal magic to work its charm on masses as it had in the US and Japan. The initial failure of the park came as a rude shock to the management which sought to woo European households. Their ‘know it all’ attitude and arrogance were to blame. Firstly, France has always had negative sentiments regarding American Imperialism and has never been fond of the strong economic and cultural influences it has actively or passively had over other countries. This was further exemplified by Disney’s advertising on its glitz and size, rather than luring families by advertising its rides and attractions. Mickey was also not a crowd puller, while the French had local characters like Asterix to proudly hold on to.
Disney had completely overlooked the implications of not considering cultural factors while managing the park. The French love their wine, and banning alcohol in the park was doing the unthinkable and insensitive to French culture and strict rules regarding facial hair for men. It’s important to keep in mind local culture before imposing strict company culture as this plays an important role in defining the overall experience, fortunately EuroDisney had kennels to house pets since French people would never leave their pets at home during a vacation. Disney also did not get adequately informed about the way of life in Europe, particularly France where they expected a large portion of their potential market. Downsizing their breakfasts at restaurants based on misinformation that Europeans don’t eat breakfast, and expecting midsession family outings which were common in America worked against the requirements and lifestyles of their market.
EuroDisney also seemed to fall out of the good books of the French government, ad agencies and banks which were formidable allies due to their overconfident and obstinate attitude. The dismal, unwelcoming winter weather in the north of France, the highly priced hotel rooms at EuroDisney, and the theme park by itself not being one that offers enough attractions to extend beyond a two day visit did not help in making things brighter. Disney never entertained the option of entering into partnerships even for the hotels. A large number of factors at the macro level also had direct influences on EuroDisney’s popularity and performance. For instance, transatlantic airfare wares and currency movements in 1992 made flying to Disneyworld, Orlando cheaper than going to Paris. Orlando’s good weather and sandy beaches were also crowd pullers. Disney also miscalculated the signs of Economic recession in Europe, high interest rates and...
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