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The major factors that contributed to EuroDisney’s poor performance was the lack of market research and cultural awareness. EuroDisney was built just like American Disney parks, without giving though to cultural differences. American characters were used, instead of French cartoon characters. Disney banned alcohol in a culture that enjoys drinking wine. Everyone showed up for breakfast in the mornings, when Disney had cut down their serving because they were erroneously informed that Europeans do not eat breakfast. Pricing strategy was not accomplished correctly. Many Europeans would not pay the prices that EuroDisney was charging. In addition, Europeans do not vacation as long as Americans do. Other factors were the transatlantic airfare war and currency movement. This made it cheaper to go to Disneyland Orlando than EuroDisney. In addition, the park opened during the Olympics in Barcelona, and the World’s Fair in Seville.
Hong Kong Disney had the exact opposite problems. Disney did its research and tried to make the park fit in with its surroundings, and guests were disappointed. The park was very small, and visitors thought it was just like all the other amusement parks in China. The park was undifferentiated. People did not know the traditional Disney characters, and did not appeal to them.
Many factors could have been foreseen and controlled by the mere study of history and culture of Europe. This study would have found that Europe has their own famous cartoon characters, and how long they usually tend to vacation. The research would have shown that wine and breakfast are important to the Europeans. With the World Fair and The Olympic Games going on at the same time, EuroDisney should have delayed its opening so more people would have wanted to attend. The only unforeseeable event would have been the Airfare war, which could not have been controlled at the time.
When EuroDisney launched, it was introduced with an American theme to an extreme extent. What wasn’t expected was how most people in Europe would react to this. Many European’s believed their culture and cartoon characters, such as Asterix and the Gallic Warrior, were better than Americas’ characters, so this had a very negative effect on business. EuroDisney opened in hopes that the Europeans would react to the park in the same way that the people in Tokyo did, but that was not the case at all. In addition, Europeans believed in taking shorter vacations and did not need to spend more than two days at the park, which was not anticipated. Europeans weren’t afraid to cut their spending money and often didn’t stay at the night at the park because they thought the prices were outrageous. Overall, the culture of Europeans was/is much different from that of America and Japan’s culture, so there wasn’t much to base their marketing decisions on when building the park in Paris.
Disney pretty well nailed the marketing aspect of both America’s, and Japan’s Disney theme parks, and they went in with almost the exact same mind set when building/marketing the EuroDisney park in Paris. They did not take into consideration the little and big cultural differences and were not sensitive to what the park would need to succeed. When EuroDisney opened, it was advertised as being big and glamorous, but that isn’t what the Europeans necessarily cared about; they care about quality over quantity. Disney had quality as well as quantity but didn’t advertise in such a fashion. Executives were informed that Europeans generally didn’t eat breakfast, so the parks dining areas were built with that in mind. It turns out they over compensated when downsizing the restaurant areas because “everyone” showed up for breakfast and the lines were disastrous, trying to feed breakfast to thousands of people when the restaurants only held 350 people. Disney marketers simply didn’t understand the lifestyle and culture of Europeans at the time of introducing EuroDisney.
In Japan, Disney did not change anything, they simply took the US theme park and put it in Tokoyo. To their surprise, it was a huge success. The Japanese loved having a piece of America brought to their country. However, this huge success led to a downfall when EuroDisney was built. They tried the same concept and it was an epic fail. The lack of marketing research, led to a disaster in Europe, but with lessons learned, not quite as bad in Hong Kong.
In comparison to EuroDisney and it’s European visitors, Hong Kong’s visitors also have a completely different culture, and Disney executives over compensated when building and marketing the theme park and made it too much like the other local theme parks. In Hong Kong, it seemed that visitors actually wanted to feel like they were in a fairytale and instead, Hong Kong Disney was laid out too similar to other parks nearby. Hong Kong Disney wasn’t as much of a failure as EuroDisney when starting out, but it also didn’t meet the projected number of visitors for the first few years it was open and lost money. Unlike EuroDisney, Hong Kong Disney visitors didn’t necessarily think their cultures famous TV characters were better; they were simply just very unfamiliar with American Disney characters like Mickey Mouse. Eventually, Hong Kong Disney made it right by launching numerous marketing initiatives like film footage of the history of Disney and it’s characters before entering the park; this helped familiarize visitors. While Disney tried to avoid the same problems they encountered when opening EuroDisney, they were misled and found a completely new culture and a different set of problems they faced in the opening of Hong Kong Disney.
Now that Hong Kong Disney is up and running, the Shanghai development will benefit from the Hong Kong experience. Learning from past mistakes, Disney will take into consideration what the Chinese culture wants. They want a fairytale. They don’t want just another Chinese amusement park. By continuing to do research and find out what the target audience wants to see, there is no doubt that Disney theme parks is China will continue to be successful.
The three locations we would consider would be Sydney, Australia, Mumbai, India, and London, England. All locations have large a large population and a respectable economy in present day. We would recommend starting to build at one of these locations within five years and have it complete by 2025. We don’t think after building a Disney is Shanghai that there needs to be another Disney any sooner than 2025. Sydney, Australia is a good choice because of the large population, decent economy, and the Disney stories and fairytales wouldn’t really have to be translated into another language since most of Australia speaks English and would be somewhat familiar with Disney characters and such. London, England also a good potential choice for a Disney theme park while their language is English, have a decent economy, large population, and familiar with Disney characters. Mumbai, India would be my choice to build a new Disney because of the very large population not just in Mumbai, but also in surrounding areas. Mumbai also has a decent economy, and we have heard that a good portion of India takes a keen interest in the American culture; with that said, we think India would be a perfect fit for a Disney theme park.
Given the history of EuroDisney and Hong Kong Disney, the Disney organization has learned a great deal of what and what not to expect from a given culture. Their lessons learned and bad experiences from the past can only benefit them when moving forward. Disney will now (hopefully) do extensive research of any given culture and the history of the environment before building and marketing their theme parks in a particular area. For example, when advertising EuroDisney when it first opened, they stressed the size and glamour of the park but that is not what Europeans cared about. Another example is the early advertisement of Hong Kong Disney; they created an image of two parents and two children enjoying the park, but it was quickly brought to their attention that most couples that visited the theme park were limited to only have one child by the China government. Little mistakes like this when designing, building, and marketing new Disney theme parks will be avoided by learning more about the history and culture of that particular country or area. Hiring people who know and understand the culture to build and market Disney’s theme parks would be the best idea for Disney.
The best location for a Disney theme park would be in Dubai. It is the business and cultural hub for the Middle East. It is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. It is also a way to capture the Muslim culture. Since the United States is already a huge influence on this location, many of its citizens are aware of Walt Disney and its characters. With the proper research into the culture, Disney’s Arabia would be the next biggest hit.
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