Impact of Cultural Differences on EuroDisney

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Impact of Cultural Differences on EuroDisney

Until 1992, the Walt Disney Company had experienced nothing short of success in the theme park business. Having successfully opened parks in California, Florida and Tokyo, it only seemed logical to open one in Europe. When word of this got out, officials from many European countries offered Disney pleas and cash indictments to work the Disney magic in their hometown. In the end only one city was chosen and it was Paris, France. That was the first of many decisions that led to a very unsuccessful opening of EuroDisney. Many factors contributed to EuroDisney's poor performance during its first few year of operation and many of these factors could have been alleviated if the proper factors would have been looked at previously.

The first problem with EuroDisney was that Paris was the town chosen to be this park's home. It was chosen because of demographics and subsidies and because the French government made Disney an offer it could not refuse. "About 17 million people live less than a two hour drive from Paris and another 310 million can fly there in the same time or less. The French government offered the company more than $1 billion in various incentives, all in the expectations that the project would create 30,000 French jobs." The land came at rock-bottom prices, cheap loans were made available, and a dedicated high-speed TGV and suburban railway link was also offered by the French. France gave Disney an offer they could not refuse. "Overlooking the over-valued franc, bad weather, French people not being known for their hospitality and occasional anti-American demonstrations by angry farmers because French agricultural subsidies had been cut, Paris was still chosen to be home of EuroDisney."

Foreign uncontrollables in Paris in regards to economic forces, legal forces, competition, and culture can be held accountable for EuroDisney's misfortunes. In opening in the summer of 1992, Europe was entering into a very bad recession and this caused income from catering, merchandise, including souvenirs and foods, and hotels to be way below what was expected. High interest rates also caused many currencies to devaluate against the franc leading to more financial difficulties for EuroDisney. In negotiations with France, lawyers were used excessively. This rigid legal approach was offen...

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... country and the surrounding countries to know. Possible problems should be noted and handled before opening day of the theme park and expectations should be realistic.

EuroDisney was faced with many challenges after its doors opened in 1992 and if all the proper steps would have been taken before opening day, many of these challenges could have been eliminated beforehand. Cross-cultural literacy is required to do successfully do business in any country and making decisions based on assumptions should be avoided at all costs. "Disney assumed Europeans would vacation like the American and Japanese; that they would be happy to stay away for several days at a theme park. But middle-class Europeans try to get away from it all on their vacations by going to the beach or the mountains, and EuroDisney lacked that kind of appeal." The challenges surrounding EuroDisney forced Disney to realize many things, most importantly it made Disney realize that it is imperative to understand all cultural differences that they will encounter when doing business in a foreign country and it is highly unlikely that Disney will see this kind of failure again anytime in the near future.

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