Euro Disney Case Study Analysis Grading

Unformatted text preview: A15-99-0007 EuroDisneyland Only one year after the grand opening of EuroDisneyland, Robert Fitzpatrick left his position as EuroDisney’s chairperson, citing a desire to start his own consulting firm. In April 1993, Philippe Bourguignon took over the helm of EuroDisney, thought by some to be a sinking ship. EuroDisney publicly reported a net loss of FFr188 million for the fiscal year ending September 1992, though cumulative losses through April 1993 approached half a billion dollars.1 The European park also fell one million visitors short of its goal for the first year of operations, with the French comprising only 29% of the park’s total visitors between April and September 1992—a far cry from the predicted 50%.2 In addition to the financial woes weighing on Bourguignon, he was also expected to stem the flow of bad publicity which EuroDisney had experienced from its inception. Phase Two development at EuroDisneyland was slated to start in September 1993, but in light of their drained cash reserves (FFr1.1bn in May 1993)3 and monstrous debts (estimated at FF421bn),4 it was unclear as to how the estimated FFr8-10bn Phase Two project would be financed. Despite this bleak picture, Michael Eisner, CEO of Walt Disney Co., remained optimistic about the venture: “Instant hits are things that go away quickly, and things that grow slowly and are part of the culture are what we look for. What we created in France is the biggest private investment in a foreign country by an American company ever. And it’s gonna pay off.”5 The Dawning Of Disney After first attempting to start a commercial arts firm in 1917, Walt Disney, along with his partner Ub Iwerks, joined the Kansas City Film Ad Company, and began to learn the craft which would carry him to fame—cartooning. By 1919, Walt was making independent short cartoon ads for theatres. In 1920, Walt’s brother Roy became a partner, and soon thereafter the group moved to Hollywood. There, they developed a standardized cast of cartoon characters, which were mass-produced using a large staff and artists working on a single easy-to-draw cartoon. The year 1928 saw the creation of “Mortimer Mouse,” later renamed Mickey. 1 David Jefferson. “American Quits Chairman Post at Euro Disney,” The Wall Street Journal (January 18, 1993), p. B1. 2 Ibid. 3 “Euro Disney: Waiting for Dumbo,” The Economist (May 1, 1993), p. 74. 4 Peter Gumbel and Richard Turner. “Blundering Mouse: Fans like Euro Disney But Its Parents’ Goofs Weigh the Park Down,” The Wall Street Journal (March 10, 1994), p. A12. 5 Jefferson, “American Quits Chairman Post at Euro Disney,” p. B1. Copyright © 1999 Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management. All rights reserved. This case was written by Research Assistant Tanya M. Spyridakis under the direction of Associate Professor J. Stewart Black, with the assistance of Associate Professor Hal Gregersen and Research Assistant Sonali Krishna, for the purpose of classroom discussion only, and not to indicate either effective or ineffective management. In 1955, Walt decided to send his entourage of characters into the real world, through the creation of Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Walt’s Disneyland dream was to create a place where people from all over would be able to go for clean, safe fun, unlike the less-than-wholesome carnivals of the day. He wanted a place that would teach both young and old about America’s heritage and about the diversity of the world. Since July 17, 1955, Disneyland has stood as the icon of Walt’s dream—a park for family-type entertainment that would provide clean, safe fun. Cleanliness is a high priority. By 8 a.m., when the park opens, the cleaning crew will have mopped and hosed and dried every sidewalk, every street, and every floor and counter. This begins at 1 a.m., when more than 350 of the park’s 7400 employees commence the daily cleanup routine. This routine includes using steam machines, razor scrapers, and mops towed by Cushman scooters to literally scour the streets and sidewalks in an effort to rid them of the chewing gum and other garbage left behind. Other examples of the emphasis placed on the small details include one person working a full eight-hour shift to polish the brass on the Fantasy merry-go-round; treating the meticulously manicured plantings throughout the park with growth-retarding hormones to keep the trees and bushes from spreading beyond their assigned spaces and destroying the carefully maintained five-eighth’s scale modeling that is used throughout the park; the maintenance supervisor of the Matterhorn bobsled personally walked every foot of the track and inspected every link of tow chain each night, despite the $2 million in safety equipment built into the machine. All this old-fashioned dedication has paid off. Since the opening day in 1955, Disneyland has been a consistent moneymaker. The death of Walt Disney in 1966 was a harbinger of turmoil for the Disney Corporation. Disney, under the direction of E. Cardon Walker from 1976 to 1983, lost touch with its traditional audience. In 1977, Roy Disney (nephew of Walt and son of Roy Disney, Sr.) quit as Disney’s vice president. Other Disney executives commented that Walker ignored any point of view but his own, which he based entirely on what he thought Walt would have done. This conservative approach led Disney to produce a “stream of tired, formulaic movies that fewer and fewer customers would pay to see”6—a phenomenon that eventually spilled over into television programming. By mid-1983, CBS canceled the hour-long program Walt Disney. For the first time in 29 years, the company was without a regular network program. Disney was a giant entertainment company that looked as though it might lose all channels to its audience. At this point, Ron Miller took over the helm with a style that fell at the other end of the spectrum from Walker’s. Where Walker’s reign could be described as dictatorial and “Walt-Centric,” Miller’s was delegative and decentralized. Sensing a need for rejuvenation, Miller did manage to produce the boxoffice hit Splash, under the newly created Touchstone label. Unfortunately, this did not become the norm, but rather was merely a blip on an otherwise unprofitable screen. One box-office bomb after another led to a sharp decline in profits. This decline extended to the theme parks, which represented about three-quarters of the company’s revenues. Revenues began to level off, and the stock price fell. During the period of April 1983 to February 1984, the stock price went from $84.375 per share to $48.75.7 As the company fell from riches-to-rags, Roy Disney, Jr., was forced to watch the Disney Empire built by his uncle, Walt Disney, and his father, Roy Disney, Sr., crumble. He also saw his personal holdings in the company drop from $96 million to $54 million. Roy had always held a firm belief that 6 7 2 Myron Magnet. “The Mouse at Disney,” Fortune (December 10, 1984), pp. 57-64. Ibid. A15-99-0007 the various divisions of the company were synergistic. For the theme parks to grow, movie and television production had to be strong. Few listened to Roy; he was labeled the “idiot nephew.” However, this idiot nephew outsmarted them all. In 1984, Roy Disney aligned himself with Stanley Gold, a tough-talking lawyer and a brilliant strategist. Together they persuaded Frank Wells, then vice-president of Warner Bros., to become president at Disney if all went as Gold and Disney, Jr., planned. It did. Old top management was forced out, and the company emerged from its past equipped with a skilled new top management team poised for a bright future. There was only one moment when the board leaned towards an older, more buttoned-down candidate for CEO (versus Michael Eisner, who had been proposed by Roy). In efforts to persuade the board, Gold made an impassioned speech to the directors: “You see guys like Eisner as a little crazy … but every studio in this country has been run by crazies. What do you think Walt Disney was? The guy was off the goddamned wall. This is a creative institution. It needs to be run by crazies again.”8 Eisner and Wells lobbied the individual board members to explain their vision for the company. In September 1984, Michael Eisner was officially appointed CEO, and Frank Wells was named as President. Eisner attributed their success at convincing the board that “I did not come in a tutu, and that I was a serious person, and I understood a P&L, and I knew the investment analysts, and I read Fortune.”9 DisneyWorld, Orlando, Florida By the time Eisner arrived, DisneyWorld in Orlando was already on its way to becoming what it is today—the most popular vacation spot in the United States. However, the company had barely tapped into a rich aspect of the businesses: hotels. Disney had only three existing hotels at DisneyWorld and one hotel complex in Anaheim, probably the most profitable in the U.S., registering occupancy rates of 92-96% versus the industry average of 66%. Because there was little room in Anaheim for hotel expansion, Eisner set out to fill this void with an ambitious $1bn hotel expansion plan in Orlando. As a result, Disney’s Grand Floridian Beach Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort opened during 1987-89. Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Resort, along with the Dolphin and Swan hotels (owned and operated by Tishman Realty & Construction, Metropolitan Life Insurance, and Aoki Corporation, respectively), opened during 1989-90. With this addition of 3,400 hotel rooms and 250,000 sq. feet of convention space, Disney’s hotels represented the largest convention center east of the Mississippi. Before the expansion plan, the Orlando area had 64,000 hotel rooms; fewer than 10% belonged to Disney. With the expansion plan, the total number of hotel rooms owned by Disney exceeded 20,000. Prices ranged from $104-455/night. October 1982 brought yet another addition to the Orlando theme park—the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT Center. This new park consisted of two large complexes that are completely different in nature. FutureWorld was a series of pavilions designed to show the technological advances expected in the next 25 years. World Showcase was a collection of foreign villages designed to allow various countries to present some aspect of their country and culture. Tokyo Disneyland Mickey Mouse, or Mikki Mausu in Japanese, took the country by storm. Tokyo Disneyland opened on a nasty winter day, April 15, 1983. On opening day at Tokyo Disneyland, 13,200 visitors passed through 8 9 Stephen Doepp. “Do You Believe in Magic?” Time (April 25, 1988), pp. 66-73. Magnet, “The Mouse at Disney” pp. 57-64. A15-99-0007 3 the gates for the very first time. August 13 of that same year registered a one-day attendance of 93,000— far surpassing any previous U.S. Disney attendance records. This high attendance level became the norm; over 10 million people visited the park by the end of year one. It only took four years for Mikki Mausu fans to break yet another single day attendance record: 111,500. Between 1983 and 1988, nearly half of Japan’s entire population, or about 50 million people, had walked through the turnstiles. Financially, this translated to consistently high revenues for the Oriental Land Company, owner of Tokyo Disneyland. Walt Disney Co. opted for no equity in the park, and chose merely to license the Japanese company. A 45-year contract between the two companies gives Disney 10% of admissions, 5% of food and merchandise sales, plus licensing fees.10 Tokyo Disneyland is 204 acres of American culture placed on Japanese soil. All signs are in English, with only small katakana (a phonetic Japanese alphabet) translations. The food is mainly American, and Disney’s strict rule of no alcohol and no outside food allowed is enforced. Every attempt was made to create a mirror image of Anaheim’s Magic Kingdom. Seven resident American Disney managers worked closely with their Japanese counterparts from Oriental Land Co. in order to ensure that the park was in keeping with the Disney Doctrine. “Everything we imported that worked in the U.S. works here,” said Ronald D. Pogue, Managing Director of Walt Disney Attractions Japan Ltd.11 “American things like McDonald’s hamburgers and Kentucky Fried Chicken are popular here with young people. We also wanted visitors from Japan and Southeast Asia to feel they were getting the real thing,” said Toshiharu Akiba, a staff member of the Oriental Land publicity department.12 All this is not to say that the creators of Tokyo Disneyland, with all their care and attention, didn’t encounter any problems along the way. Some physical features and cultural differences had to be taken into account: a Japanese restaurant had to be added to accommodate older patrons; the Nautilus submarine ride could not be built on and reclaimed from the ocean; more areas had to be covered to protect against rain and snow; queue paths for attractions had to be rerouted because it is considered very discourteous in Japan for one to cross in front of another. Slogans and ad copy, though often in English, had to be Japanized. For example, “Let’s Spring” was the motto for one highly successful ad campaign. However, it wasn’t until almost opening day that management discovered almost 100 public phones were installed too high for Japanese guests to reach them comfortably. Another difference of perception between Disney and Oriental Land managers included the construction of rustic-looking Westernland, Tokyo’s version of Frontierland. “The Japanese like everything fresh and new when they see it put in,” explained James B. Cora, Managing Director of Operations for the Tokyo project. “They kept painting the wood, and we kept saying, ‘No, it’s got to look old.’ ” Finally, the Disney crew took the Japanese to Anaheim to give them a firsthand look at the Old West.13 The opening of Tokyo Disneyland coincided well with the escalation in value of the yen against the dollar, as well as the strong increase in the average Japanese income level. Demographics also played 10 Awata Fusaho. “Disneyland’s Dreamlike Success,” Japan Quarterly (January-March, 1988), pp. 58-62. “In Japan They’re Goofy About Disney,” Business Week (March 12, 1990), p. 64. 12 Ibid. 13 Mary Ann Galante. “Disney’s Ambassador Guides Foreign Policy for a Magic Kingdom,” Los Angeles Times (May 27, 1987), p. 1. 11 4 A15-99-0007 well for the park—30 million Japanese live within 30 miles of the grounds, three times the population for Anaheim’s Disneyland within the same radius. Also, the Japanese have a tradition of omiage, or little present, bought for friends and family members who are not able to go. In 1988, the total bill for all Disney omiage (in the form of Mickey Mouse watches, t-shirts, bed linens, etc.) purchased in the park and other Disney retail stores in Japan was over $1 billion. With the park nearing capacity, and unanimous feelings of its unqualified success, Oriental Land and Disney have a 50/50 joint venture plan for a Tokyo version of the Disney-MGM studio tour to be built next door. EuroDisneyland With the continued success of its two parks in the U.S. and the one in Japan, the promise of a new European Union was too much to resist. The question wasn’t whether or not to build a Disney theme park in Europe, it was where: Spain or France. Both countries’ bureaucrats were under mandates from their prime ministers to help Disney in its quest for the perfect location. France set up a five-person team, headed by Edith Cresson, Special Advisor to Foreign Trade & Tourism. Spain’s team was led by Ignacio Vasallo, the Director-General for the Promotion of Tourism. Both governments were besieged with requests from Disney executives for detailed information. “The only thing they haven’t asked us for is the color of the tourists’ eyes,” moaned Vasallo.14 Both governments put together extensive enticement packages. Spain offered tax and labor incentives, and possibly as much as 20,000 acres of land. The French proposal, slightly less generous, included spending $53 million to improve highway access to the proposed site and perhaps speeding up a $75 million subway project. Disney officials remained noncommittal, commenting only that Spain had better weather, while France had a better population base. March 24, 1987, signaled the end to talks that had dragged on for more than a year; negotiations had been delayed by a change of hands in the French government—from Socialist to Conservative control. The Americans’ attempts to plan ahead for every possible contingency also bogged down talks. Michael Eisner and Jacques Chirac, then the French prime minister, signed a contract for the building of a Disney theme park at Marne-la-Vallee. At the signing, Robert Fitzpatrick, fluent in French, recipient of two awards from the French government, and married to French national, Sylvie Blondet, was introduced as the president of EuroDisneyland. Fitzpatrick was expected to be a key player in wooing support for the theme park from the French establishment. Explanations for location choice included Marne-la-Vallee’s close proximity to one of the world’s tourism capitals (it is 20 miles from Paris), and approximately 300 million people throughout France, Belgium, England, and Germany were within a day’s drive or high-speed train ride. Good transportation was another advantage mentioned; one of the train/RER lines of the Paris Metro subway ran to Torcy, located in the center of Marne-la-Valle. In addition, the French government promised to extend this line to the actual site of the park. The park would be close to A-4, a modern highway that runs from Paris to the German border, as well as to a freeway that runs to Charles de Gaulle airport. Finally, the chunnel between France and England was expected to be completed near the time of EuroDisney’s opening. 14 Linda Bernier, Susan Roberts, and Elizabeth Ames. “Monsieur Mickey or Senor Miqui?: Disney Seeks a European Site.” Business Week (July 15, 1985), p. 48. A15-99-0007 5 With a signed letter of intent in hand, Disney knew that the French government had too much at stake to let the project fail. This knowledge was enough to allow the company to hold out for concession after concession: the normal 18.6% VAT (Value Added Tax) on ticket sales was reduced to only 7%;15 subsidized loans were secured to fund one-fourth of the building costs; contractual disputes would be settled by a special international panel of arbitrators, rather than by the French courts. Disney, however, did have to make a concession: it would respect and use French culture in its themes. The park’s development was to consist of two major phases. Phase One of the park would be a theme park as well as a complex of hotels, golf courses, and an aquatic park. Phase Two, slated to begin construction after the gates opened in 1992, entailed a community to be built around the park, including a sports complex, a technology park, a conference center, a theatre, a shopping mall, a university campus, villas, and condominiums. In total, EuroDisney had 5,000 acres to play with. The theme park itself would initially occupy about 200 acres, totaling 730 acres by 1995.16 Opening was set for early 1992, with a predicted attendance level of 11 million visitors annually, and an estimated break-even point somewhere between 7 and 8 million. Phase One’s preliminary estimations on cost were $1bn, the largest single foreign investment in France. A French pivot company was formed to build the park with starting capital of FFr3bn, split 60% French and 40% foreign. Disney invested $160 million directly into the project; a total of $600 million in foreign investment was expected to flow into France each year. At this point, the fact that no definite plans for Phase Two had been laid out made it difficult to do more than guess about the final size of the park. Costs, however, were expected to surpass the price tag of the first phase. In addition, in November 1989, Fitzpatrick announced plans for a European version of the Disney-MGM studios, based on the original located at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Florida. The studios would increase Disney’s production of live action and animated filmed entertainment in Europe for both the European and world markets. Opening was projected for sometime in 1996. Optimism was at an all-time high; individuals and businesses alike raced to become part of the Mickey Mouse money machine. “The phone’s been ringing here ever since the announcement,” said Marc Berthod of EpaMarne, the government body that oversees the Marne-la-Vallee region. “We’ve gotten calls from hotel chains to language interpreters—all asking for details on EuroDisneyland. And the individual mayors of the villages around here have been swamped with calls from people looking for jobs,” he added.17 It was also hoped that EuroDisney would provide the region some relief to the unemployment rate, which had hovered around 10% for the past several years. EuroDisney expected to generate as many as 28,000 jobs, from permanent park employees to construction workers; a new laundry facility alone would employ 400 outside workers, just to wash the fifty tons of laundry expected to be generated per day by EuroDisneyland’s 14,000 employees. In the midst of the furor, one worry was that EuroDisney would cannibalize the flow of European visitors to Walt Disney World in Florida. This fear was calmed by European travel agents, who said that customers were still eager to go to the sunshine state. 15 “EuroDisneyland: Mickey Hops the Pond,” The Economist (March 28, 1987), p. 85. “France, Disney Ink $2-Bil Contract to Construct Euroland,” Variety (March 25, 1987). 17 Jaques Neher. “Mickey and Money for France,” The Journal of Commerce (February 26, 1986), p. 1. 16 6 A15-99-0007 Wanted: Dollars for Disney Eisner, confident of EuroDisney’s success, secured a 49% stake in the project for Disney; the remaining 51% of stock was distributed through the London, Paris, and Brussels stock exchanges. Of this stock, half was set aside for the French, one-fourth went to the English, and the remaining 25% was diffused throughout the rest of the European Community (EC). The initial price offer, FFr72, was much higher than the pathfinder prospectus, due to an expansion in the park capacity. The price was projected to reach FFr166 by opening day. This was expected to yield a compound return of 21%.18 Though putting up only $160 million of its own capital to fund the project (versus over $800 million in low interest loans on the part of the French national and local authorities, and another $800 million for new infrastructure), Disney kept management control. Advertising and marketing were kept in-house, though Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) International was hired as an outside advisor. “O&M will help us reinforce our creative ideas,” said Gerbeaux, communications vice president of EuroDisney, “Because we have to advertise in every country in Europe, we need outside advice on how to approach the markets.”19 Other avenues of funding included twelve corporate sponsors. One of these sponsors, Mattel Inc., was rewarded for its support with the Hot Wheels logo emblazoned on the cars for the autopolis ride for children. For Disney, payoff would begin as soon as the park opened. The Walt Disney Company was set to receive the same commission rate as in Japan: 10% of admission fees, 5% of food and merchandise revenues. In addition, Disney would collect management fees, incentive fees, and 49% of the profits.20 Expected profits in the first year were $230-600 million and between $320 million and $1bn in the second year. Cultural Chernobyl? The deal of the century, as many called EuroDisney, came under protests from all sides. Communists and intellectuals protested heavily. Ariane Mnouchkine, a theatre director, described it as a “cultural Chernobyl.” “I wish with all my heart that the rebels would set fire to Disneyland,” thundered one intellectual in the French newspaper Le Figaro. “Mickey Mouse,” sniffed another, “is stifling individualism and transforming children into consumers.” Other criticisms of the park cited the project as another attack on France’s cultural landscape, already under siege from American movies and music. The theme park was damned as an example of American neoprovincialism.21 Never ones to suppress their emotions, the farmers of the Marne-la-Vallee region staffed protests of their own. Incited over terms of the government’s contract with Disney in which the French government would expropriate the necessary land and sell it without profit to EuroDisneyland development 18 Judson Green. “Brought to Account: Not a Mickey Mouse Organisation,” Accountancy (November, 1989), pp. 16-27. 19 Cindy Gourlay. “Disney keeps O&M on tight rein in Europe; Ogilvy & Mather Intl.’s advertising contract with EuroDisneyland,” Information Access Company; Haymarket Publications Ltd. 1991 (March 28, 1991), p. 8. 20 Robert Wrubel. “Le Defi Mickey Mouse,” Financial World (October 17, 1989), p. 21. 21 Richard Turner and Peter Gumbel. “Major Attraction: As Euro Disney Braces for its Grand Opening, the French Go Goofy.” The Wall Street Journal (April 10, 1992), pp. A1. A15-99-0007 7 company, farmers lined the roadside with signs such as “Disney go home,” “Stop the massacre,” and “Don’t gnaw away the national wealth.” Local officials, though sympathetic to the plight of the farmers, were unwilling to let their predicament interfere with the Disney deal. One other front to be contended with by Disney was the communist-dominated labor federation—the Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT). The CGT was skeptical of Disney’s job creation claims. The CGT fought against the passage of a bill which would give managers the right to establish flexible work hours. This was believed to be essential for the profitable operation of EuroDisney, especially with its seasonal attendance variations. Working to allay fears of traffic congestion, noise, pollution, etc.—all stemming from the project— Disney launched an aggressive community relations program. Efforts included: inviting local children to a birthday party for Mickey Mouse, sending Mickey to area hospitals, and hosting free trips to DisneyWorld in Florida for dozens of local children and officials. This type of business relations is a rarity in France; businesses make little effort to establish good relations with local residents. Layout of the Land In actuality, the first opportunity to experience Disney lies before the gates of EuroDisneyland: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, a cavernous theatre and restaurant featuring a panoply of Le Far West, including some twenty imported buffaloes, as well as actual cowboys and authentic Indians. All employees are American (an exception mutually agreed upon by the French government and Disney). Upon entering the attraction, all are given a straw hat to wear and take home with them. Photographs are taken of the guests in their straw hats, which most purchase on their way out. Despite the meal being served in an iron skillet, a firmly set standard menu of spare ribs and chicken, and a set price of FFr300, this attraction has proven to be among the more popular, and is sold out most nights. Once inside the park, visitors face Main Street, USA (a turn-of-the-century American town), the first of five lands in the Magic Kingdom theme park, modeled after Disney parks elsewhere. Despite research findings indicating a European love for the Prohibition Era, Eisner vetoed plans for a 1920s version of Main Street, stating that the images of gangsters and speakeasies were too negative. A slightly more ornate and Victorian version of Main Street was kept. In all, there are 29 attractions throughout the theme park; the familiar cast of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, Goofy, etc., are not hard to find. Modifications to the park had to be made to protect against changes in weather. The park is crisscrossed with covered walkways. Eisner personally ordered the installation of 35 fireplaces in hotels and restaurants. “People walk around DisneyWorld with humidity and temperatures in the 90s, and they walk into an air-conditioned ride and say, ‘This is the greatest,’ ” said Eisner. “When it’s raining and miserable, I hope they will walk into one of those lobbies with the fireplace going and say the same thing.”22 Next Exit: Food and Hotels Gearing for a daily attendance of 55,000, EuroDisneyland planned to serve an estimated 14,000 people per hour. To do this, 29 restaurants were built. Menus and prices were varied with American flavor predominant, as well as Disney’s rule of no alcohol. The most noted exception was in Fantasyland, 22 8 Ibid. A15-99-0007 where the food service reflected the fable’s country of origin: Pinocchio’s facility has German food; Cinderella’s French; Bella Notte’s Italian, etc. Patio seats, 2,100 of them (30% of park seating), were installed to satisfy Europeans’ preference of eating outdoors when the sun shines. In test kitchens back at DisneyWorld, recipes were adapted for European tastes. “A few things we did need to change,” said Walter Meyer, executive chef for menu development at EuroDisneyland and executive chef of food projects development at Walt Disney World, “but most of the time people kept telling us, ‘Do your own thing. Do what’s American’.”23 Tex-Mex dishes were toned down; a special coffee blend was developed for universal appeal; even hotdogs had a wide range of tastes and compositions. Japanese pancakes, grilled bratwurst, ice cream, and a new yogurt project—developed with Nestle— were all available from cart vendors. Once having fed the projected 55,000 daily visitors to the park, planners turned their attention to accommodating them for the night. Big-name architects from all over submitted plans for consideration. The result: six theme hotels, which offer close to 5,200 rooms (see Exhibit 10). This figure is expected to grow in conjunction with the long-term expansion plans of the resort itself. By year 2017, EuroDisneyland, under the terms specified in its contract with the French government, was required to finish constructing a total of 18,200 hotel rooms at varying distances from the resort. Guests can also avail themselves of the 27-hole golf course located on the grounds. In addition to the hotel accommodations, the resort has the Davey Crockett campground, offering 414 cabins and 181 camping sites. Unfortunately, in the first year of operation, these Phase One hotels had a combined occupancy rate of only 37%. Dress and Indoctrination At Disney Creating a fantasy of the Magic Kingdom required more than just buildings and technology; it required people—a lot of people. Disney needed 12,000 employees for the theme park alone. Unlike either of the two U.S. theme parks, which have many seasonal and temporary, part-time college workers, these employees would be permanent cast members on the EuroDisney stage. Casting centers were set up in Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt, in a drive to mirror the multicountry aspect of EuroDisney’s visitors. It was nonetheless understood between the French government and Disney that a concentrated effort would be made to tap into the local French labor market. Overall, Disney was looking for workers who had good communication skills, spoke two European languages (French and one other), were outgoing, and liked to be around people. As with all the parks, EuroDisney set up its own Disney University to train workers. Not known for having the same definition of service, speculation abounded as to whether Disney would find enough Europeans with the right attitude for the job. However, with 24,000 applicants by November 1991, this proved not to be a problem. “A lot of people made assumptions about France and Europe that have not turned out to be true. We find that we are attracting the same kind of people we did in the U.S.,” said Thor Degelmann, a native Californian who had been with Disney for more than 25 years and was now EuroDisney’s personnel director.24 23 “Disney Magic Spreads Across the Atlantic; Popular US Theme Park Prepares for Opening of Euro Disneyland Resort Near Paris in April, 1992,” Nation’s Restaurant News (October 28, 1991), p.3. 24 Rone Tempest. “Challenging Casting Call for Disney; Help Wanted: Native American Indian, FrenchSpeaking Preferred, To Play Sitting Bull in Wild West Show . . .” Los Angeles Times (November 8, 1991), p. A5. A15-99-0007 9 Controversy did arise over Disney’s strict appearance code, enforced in all its parks. The rules were spelled out in a video presentation and in a guidebook given to all new cast members. The guidebook details the requirements for just about everything one could imagine. Men’s hair must be cut above the collar and ears; no beards or mustaches are allowed; all tattoos must be covered. Women must keep their hair in one natural color, no frosting or streaking. Use of makeup is limited. False eyelashes, eyeliner, and eye pencil are completely off limits. Fingernails are not allowed to pass one’s fingertips. Jewelry is allowed at an absolute minimum: women can wear only one earring in each ear, but the earring must not go beyond the specified three-quarters of an inch diameter limit. Men and women alike are restricted to one ring per hand. In addition, women must wear the appropriate undergarments, and only transparent pantyhose are permitted. Cast members were also informed that they were expected to show up “fresh and clean” each day. A related training video contained a shower scene, indirectly saying that a daily bath was required. French labor unions mounted protests against the appearance code, which they saw as “an attack on individual liberty.” Others criticized Disney as being insensitive to French culture, individualism, and privacy, because restrictions on individual and collective liberties are illegal under French law, unless it can be demonstrated that the restrictions are requisite to the job and do not exceed what is necessary. Disney countered by saying that a ruling that barred them from imposing a squeaky-clean employment standard could threaten the image and long-term success of the park. “For us, the appearance code has a great effect from a product identification standpoint,” said Degelmann. “Without it we couldn’t be presenting the Disney product that people would be expecting.”25 Degelmann also pointed out that many other companies, particularly airlines, had appearance codes just as strict. Disney’s just happened to be written down. Aware of cultural differences, the company, according to Degelmann, had toned down the wording from the original American version. Degelmann also noted that no more than 5% of all applicants interviewed and provided the initial orientation decided against working at EuroDisneyland. EuroDisney also faced the challenge of getting the new cast members used to smiling and being polite to park guests on a consistent basis. Responding to a criticism of Disney’s indoctrinating people, Degelmann stated, “You can’t make someone be sincere all day. We select people who want to work here and are predisposed to do well in this environment. We don’t try to change people; we arm them with the tools and motivation to perform.”26 Other Problems Along the Way Disney’s first ads for work bids were all placed in English, which left small- and medium-sized French firms feeling like foreigners in their own land. A data bank was eventually set up with information on over 20,000 French and European firms looking for work. The Chamber of Commerce, with the aid of Disney, developed a video text information bank which the smaller companies would be able to tap into. Local companies were told they would get work, but had to compete for it. The building of EuroDisneyland was plagued by construction delays and modifications. All facades were given six coats of paint versus the standard one coat in the two U.S. parks. Le Visionarium, a 360-degree Circle-Vision screen movie, finished construction with $8-10 million in extras. At one point, Eisner ordered a $200,000 staircase removed because it blocked a view of the Star Tours ride. 25 “A Disney Dress Code Chafes in the Land of Haute Couture,” New York Times (December 25, 1991), p. 1. 26 Anne Ferguson. “Maximising the Mouse.” Management Today (September, 1989), pp. 60. 10 A15-99-0007 This further hiked-up the EuroDisney bill, which already had to deal with construction costs being, on average, 20% higher than for similar jobs in the U.S. Another setback occurred when a fire, sparked by a short circuit, caused minor damage to the Sequoia Lodge while it was under construction. EuroDisneyland’s Grand Opening April 12, 1992, France-Soir enthusiastically predicted Disney dementia. “Mickey! It’s madness,” read its front-page headline. Would-be visitors were warned of chaos on the roads. A government survey indicated that half a million people carried by 90,000 cars might try to get in. Would people be turned away? French radio warned traffic to avoid the area. By lunch time, the parking lot was less than half full, suggesting an attendance level below 25,000. Speculative explanations ranged from people heeding the advice to stay away to the more likely one-day strike that cut the direct rail link to EuroDisney from the center of Paris. Queues for the main rides, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Big Thunder Mountain, were averaging around 15 minutes, less than for an ordinary day at DisneyWorld in Florida. Despite this fact, English visitors found the French reluctant to stand in line and wait. “The French seem to think that if God had meant them to queue, He wouldn’t have given them elbows,” commented one.27 Different cultures have varying definitions of personal space. EuroDisney guests’ problems ranged from people who either got too close or who left too much space between themselves and the person in front of them. It was thought that the competition from French theme parks, which had significantly lower admission costs, might be a concern. However, Fitzpatrick did not appear to be daunted. “We are spending 22 billion French francs before we open the door, while the other places spent 700 million,” he said. “This means we can pay infinitely more attention to details—to costumes, hotels, shops, trash baskets—to create a fantastic place. There’s just too great a response to Disney for us to fail.”28 Bourguignon’s Predicament With these bold predictions of his predecessor echoing in his ears, Bourguignon stared at his desk. Surrounding him were piles of financial statements drowning in red ink (to the tune of $500 million), stock market reports chronicling EuroDisney’s falling price from FFr166 to approximately FFr65, and newspapers full of stories of EuroDisneyland’s cultural blunders. Bourguignon wondered where he would find the magic to turn this kingdom around. 27 Frank Barrett. “French Play Cat and Mouse with Mickey,” The Independent (April 13, 1992), p. 10. Steven Greenhouse. “Playing Disney in the Parisian Fields,” The New York Times (February 17, 1991), p. C1. 28 A15-99-0007 11 APPENDIX Walt Disney Co. EXHIBIT 1 Product Segment Data (000’s) 1992 Theme Parks & Resorts Filmed Entertainment Consumer Products Corporate Investment in EuroDisney Total for U.S. Sales $3,306,900 $3,155,200 $1,081,900 — — $7,504,000 Op. Income $644,000 $508,300 $283,000 — — $1,287,100 Assets $5,076,800 $2,370,900 $642,800 $2,231,700 $539,500 $10,861,700 Cap. Ex. $380,900 $76,700 $38,600 $48,200 — $544,400 Deprec. $249,800 $29,500 $16,800 $21,200 — $759,600 Sources: Worldscope Database and Disney Annual Reports. EXHIBIT 2 Mickey Goes to France: The EuroDisney Deal 1984-1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1991 1992 1993 Disney negotiates with Spain and France for site of European Disneyland; France is chosen; protocol letter is signed by Eisner and Laurent Fabius, French Prime Minister. Farmers protest against government plan to expropriate necessary land. Disney and Jaques Chirac, French Prime Minister, sign letter of intent. Selects lead commercial bank lenders for the senior portion of the project. Forms the Societe en Nom Collectif (SNC). Begins planning for the equity offering of 51% of EuroDisneyland as required in the letter of intent. Disney and Michael Rocard, French Prime Minister, sign a rider to give Disney rights to the land immediately instead of 1989, as originally planned; construction begins. European press and stock analysts visit Walt Disney World in Orlando. Begin extensive news and television campaign. Stock starts trading at 20% to 25% premium from the issue price. Disney announces plans for a European version of the Disney-MGM studios with a projected opening in 1996. Disney sets up casting centers in Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. Controversy erupts over dress codes. Disney bails out subcontractors. Pre-opening party held at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show; threat of strike hangs over EuroDisneyland’s Grand Opening—April 12, 1992. Phillipe Bourguignon replaces Robert Fitzpatrick. Source: L’EXPANSION, January 1994 EXHIBIT 3 Park Attendance Location Urayasu, Japan Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Anaheim, Calif. Marne-la-Vallee Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Park Tokyo Disneyland Walt Disney World Disneyland EuroDisneyland MGM Studios at Walt Disney World Attendance 15.8 million 12.0 million 11.4 million 10.0 million 8.0 million Source: Amusement Business; figures are for 1993. 12 A15-99-0007 EXHIBIT 4 The EuroDisneyland Resort Plans for the EuroDisneyland Resort Magic Kingdom Theme Park Hotel accommodations Golf course(s) Shopping center Phase I 200 acres 5,200 rooms 27 holes 215,200 sq. ft Restaurants 29 Housing units Industrial park Office space Retail stores Conference center MGM Studios EPCOT Center 500 591,800 sq. ft. 322,800 sq. ft. — — — — Phase I + Phase II 730 acres 18,000 rooms 968,400 sq. ft 5,100 8 million sq. ft. 753,200 sq. ft. 699,400 sq. ft. 430,400 sq. ft. Not yet determined Not yet determined Source: Business America, Dec. 2, 1991. EXHIBIT 5 And the Park Grew Estimated Costs on Construction 1985 1986 1987 1989 1991 1992 $1.0 billion $1.5-2.0 billion $2.5 billion $2.9-3.0 billion $4.4 billion $4.4-4.5 billion Adapted from The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Amusement Business. EXHIBIT 6 Admission Rates Park Disneyland, Anaheim DisneyWorld, Orlando Tokyo Disneyland, Japan Euro Disneyland, France 0-3 yrs. 0 0 0 0 4-11 yrs. $23 $28 $27 $33 12-17 yrs. $29 $35 $35 $47 18+ yrs. $29 $35 $38 $47 Average total $ spent per person in park $45-60 $45-60 $70-85 $30-45 Adapted from: The Herald, April 11, 1994, Let’s Go Cal, Let’s Go France, Fedor’s Japan. A15-99-0007 13 EXHIBIT 7 EuroDisneyland Hotels Hotel EuroDisneyland Hotel New York Newport Bay Club Sequoia Lodge Hotel Cheyenne Hotel Santa Fe Total Davey Crockett Campground # Rooms 500 575 1,098 1,011 1,000 1,000 5,184 414 181 Price Range $190-340 $190-340 $130-190 $130-190 $95-130 $95-130 Construction Costs per room in 1988 FFr 875,000 875,000 560,000 560,000 315,000 315,000 $ 48 Source: Hotels, October, 1991. Exhibit 8 Disney’s Payoff on Euro Disneyland Royalties from admission Royalties from food, merchandise, and hotels Dividends on Net Income Base Management Fees: First 5 years Base Management Fees: After 5 years BMF if Operating Cash Flow = +$ 220mm BMF if Operating Cash Flow = +$ 450 mm Source: Financial World, October 17, 1989 10% 5% 49% of Park’s net income 3% of revenues 6% of revenues 30% of revenues 50% of revenues EXHIBIT 9 Disney Temperature Ranges Location Orlando, Florida Anaheim, California Tokyo, Japan Barcelona, Spain Paris, France Average temp. (F): January 49-70 48-67 29-47 43-55 32-42 Average temp. (F): July 74-90 64-84 70-83 70-82 55-76 EXHIBIT 10 Visitor Profiles Location United States Japan Germany United Kingdom France Spain Average Number of Weeks Vacation 2-3 2-3 6 4 5 4 Average Annual Income (per capita) $22,000 $25,430 $27,064 $18,143 $23,026 $13,755 Average Percentage of Income Available for Leisure/Cultural Activities 5% 4.7% 5.1% 5.8% 4.6% 1.9% Adapted from: EIU Country Profiles, 1993; Country Chambers of Commerce, EuroMonitor Consumer Reports, 1993, 1994. 14 A15-99-0007 ...
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Euro Disney, nowadays Disneyland Paris, is a holiday and recreation resort located in Mane-la-Valle, a new town close to Paris (Euro Disney, 2009). When the International offer of shares for the Euro Disneyland was issued in October 1989 the strategies for this new enterprise of the Walt Disney group were very optimistic. The financial plans for the first year of operation estimated total revenues of FF 5,482 million and a net profit after tax of FF 204 million. For the subsequent years the development was projected to be even more impressive. Just within a short time after Euro Disney was unwrapped in April 1992, it was noticeable that reality would not encounter the plans. In November 1992, the financial reports for the year ended in 30 September 1992 were published which included the first 172 opening days of Disneyland Paris. There the management had to announce a loss of FF 188 million. The second year was even worse. Although Euro Disney nearly met plans for guest attendance, they confronted a loss of FF 5,337 million whereas total turnover was FF 5,725 million. Plans for the second year of operation (1 April 1993 to 31 March 1994) predicted a turnover of FF 6,801 million and a profit of FF 359 million. (Recklies, n.d.)

Euro Disney started to have problems early, on 1980’s problems with negotiation and construction, on the 1990’s with French figures started to voice

against the park, with phrases

like “Cultural Chernobyl”

 (Euro Disney, 2009) .Euro Disney also had problems in the beginning of its operations, since the first day, problems related to cultural issues and operational issues oc

curred massively, affecting directly Euro Disney’s performance and attendance.


The main objective of this report is to understand how Euro Disney had this initial failure. How it could had a better initial experience, and to provide recommendations to students and

business men don’t committee the same errors.

Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory

Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory is a framework for cross-cultural communication, developed by Geert Hofstede. It describes the effects of a society's culture on the values of its members, and how these values relate to behavior, using a structure derived from factor analysis. The theory has been widely used in several fields as a paradigm for research, particularly in cross-cultural psychology, international management, and cross-cultural communication. (Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory, n.d.)

Dimensions of national cultures

Power distance index

Individualism vs. collectivism

Uncertainty avoidance index

Masculinity vs. femininity

Long-term orientation vs. short term orientation

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