Maria Hoffman Week Four Written Assignment Disney in France Instructor Matt Hurley Abstract In 1992, the Walt Disney Company opened its fourth theme park in Paris, France. The grand opening did not go without problems, and park operations were disorganized. In this paper, I will attempt to explain the assumptions that the Walt Disney Company made and the results of those assumptions. How Disney could have made a more favorable opening and acceptance in France.
Was this choice of locations for their fourth park a correct one? Assumptions of Walt Disney Company regarding Paris Location Disney made many assumptions on how this country would react to a new theme park being introduced. Disney had already been successful in all the other locations it had built parks in. These would include California, Florida, and Japan. Disney was interested in expanding again to a European market and the creation of a Euro-Disneyland. When this announcement was made hundreds of locations tried to entice Disney to build there.
The final decisions were made for Paris for two main reasons, location in Europe, and the one billion dollars worth of incentives the French government had promised. The decision was made but further meetings between government officials and the company's representatives were beginning to show cultural differences with the two. This first assumption that all business is conducted in the same manner around the world was the first hurdle that Disney had to face. Disney had always been accepted wherever they had introduced a theme park. Shortly after the opening of Euro-Disneyland, local farmers blocked the entrances into the park because of the American government had tried to reduce the subsidies given to the local farmers. This demonstration was not directed to Disney directly, but it shows another assumption that Disney did make which is global acceptance.
Operationally Disney also made assumptions that would affect the bottom line of the park. One of these assumptions was there would be no need to change the guidelines and rules of the park. Again Disney found out the hard way regarding rule changes since the Europeans could not understand why there was no serving of alcohol in the park. Culturally Europeans would not have lunch or dinner without a glass of wine. Disney also assumed that Fridays would be the busiest day of the week and structured staffing accordingly. Disney was in for a huge shock when Mondays were actually the busiest.
These types of operational assumptions were hurting Disney financially but also reducing employee morale. This again was due to assumptions that all employees follow the same guidelines in all areas of the world, which Disney found out to be incorrect. Financially Disney assumed that due to the large incentive program they would be profitable by following results from other locations and design how Euro-Disney would be built. This proved to be another costly mistake for Disney to make the wrong assumption.
Disney found that Europeans only spent a day or two visiting the park and would not take week long vacations as Disney had seen in previously built theme parks. The additional hotels that Disney built surrounding the park were not being used to full capacity and were losing them money. Eventually Disney had to reduce the cost of admission to the park along with providing great rates on the rooms to keep quests there longer. How Disney could have made a more favorable opening and acceptance in France Disney could have used more market research in all aspects of opening in order to have a more favorable acceptance in France. The first thing Disney could have done better is to understand the full culture of the country they are entering.
There are vast differences between America, Japan, and France. Disney also made an assumption that all Europeans follow the same basic cultures of France. If further research had been completed there would be a greater possibility of acceptance. Any company trying to gain acceptance must find out what the local people need. Some locals see the introduction of this theme park into this area as a "cultural Chernobyl." Disney could have used this statement to design a park that would serve two functions, a theme park and a cultural adventure. Instead Disney originally went with what had worked for them in the past at other locations and if it had not been for changes in how the park in managed there would still be considerable losses for Disney.
Operationally Disney made mistakes in thinking for the people. They decided to change certain operations from the beginning only to find out that there were the things the locals were looking for when visiting a theme park. One example is restaurant service, normally Disney has found that self-service allows the park visitor a quick and low cost way of dining. They assumed that Europeans would not accept this and offered full restaurant service.
The results were Disney made a wrong decision and had to revert to the original method. This and other examples show again how Disney should have involved the locals with designs prior to the final decision making process. Was this choice of locations for their fourth park a correct one? On August 2 2001 Disneyland Resort Paris (notice the name change another change Disney needed to make due to assumptions made initially) offered its customers the ability to purchase full packages online. The introduction of this service along with the creation of the disneylandparis. com website has helped Disney create the number one tourist destination in Europe. Disney realized that a full resort must be created along with the theme park in order to keep the customers happy.
Disney has made the right choice in location now that the public interest is kept in mind. Disney expects to open three more hotels in the spring of next year in order to keep up with the newly anticipated customer increase. These increases are due to the construction of golf courses and village, which includes all types of shops and restaurants. Even though Disney had a lot of changes to go through to reach this desired spot, overall the location of Disneyland Paris is the correct location for Disney. Reference: DISNEYLANDPARIS. COM LAUNCHES ON LINE TICKET SALES FOR THE TWO DISNEY THEME PARKS.
[Online] August 2 02 Available web 12/15/02 C. W. L. Hill 2000 Disney in France, International Business: Competing in the Global Marketplace (pp 106-107).