Euro Disney: from Dream to Nightmare (1987-1994)
For years, the Disney Theme Park Empire was built upon three crown jewels located in California, Florida, and Japan. Combining the familiar, family-friendly characters and images upon which the Disney reputation was built. With clean and well-operated theme parks helped Disney set new standards for efficient, friendly customer service in the theme park industry. Its parks became major international tourist attractions. However, when Euro Disney opened in Paris in 1992, the standard model of Disney theme parks ran into trouble.
Tackling the many problems faced by Euro Disney operations has posed many new challenges to Disney, forcing them to reconsider their standard model for success. Disney must find ways to adapt their theme park model in a manner which preserves the best of Disney. 9. 1 The challenges facing Euro Disney Early hopes for a similar success soured soon after Euro Disney opened, and the experience of opening Euro Disney delivered unexpected surprises to Disney management. The park soon encountered several major problems: Attendance
Disney’s consulting firm has projected first year park attendance to range between 11. 7 and 17. 8 million attendees. To be cautious, Disney used the littlest figures and predicted eleven million attendees. While initial hotel bookings at the theme park during the summer looked promising, as the theme park entered its first winter, bookings dropped to twenty percent or less of monthly projects. Staffing Staffing shortages created a negative cycle in which extra workloads on employees resulted in increased turnover, which in turn hurt Disney’s ability to retain and develop its employees.
Poor union relations caused by reactions to Disney’s exacting requirements for dress and appearance, such as a ban on facial hair and colored stockings, as well as to Disney’s high standards of customer service, further hurt their ability to attract employees. Customer Service Euro Disney was failing to deliver the high level of customer service standard to Disney theme parks, as well as failing to provide the service needs that were unique to the European market.
Many employees failed to conform to the high standards of customer service that were expected in Disney theme parks. Lack of local management and autonomy Walt Disney Company owned a 49% share in Euro Disney. This resulted in management by remote control, in which decisions were often made by people who were far removed from the day-to-day operations of the park, and who did not have a strong understanding of the culture and the market. 9. 2 Recommendations Upon reviewing the key problems faced by Euro Disney, there are several issues which require attention.
These include: Improving customer service Accommodations and services should be made to better fit the needs and desires of the multi-lingual and multi-cultural European customer base. Greater efforts should be made to identify and retain employees that are compatible with the corporate values of Disney with regards to customer service. Decentralize management Disney should hire local consultants to provide insight of local governmental ordinances, as well as customs that the business should follow.
Decision making should be more decentralized, away from the U. S. parent company. Procedures should be made specifically for France. Communications with its employees and the overall morale among employees have to be improved. Options to overcome the housing shortage should be explored to allow workers to live closer to the theme park. In addition, Disney should make a greater effort to increase the diversity of its workforce, to provide a better level of service for visitors from outside of France.
Better culture adaptation and understanding of the European market Disney must better understand and meet the different habits, expectations, and needs of the European theme park visitors. In addition, a greater role should be given to European investors in planning and decision making, to provide more of a European perspective in managing the operations of the theme park. Maintain operational flexibility As the organization is still dealing with a large range of unknowns, flexible problem-solving attitudes should be encouraged to help allow Disney to learn and adapt to its new environment.
Disney has achieved a strong market position in other locations, and there is no reason to believe the organization cannot achieve a similar success in Europe, provided it is willing to make the same long-term commitment. Develop more realistic planning Plans for a second phase should not have been allowed to advance until such time that the problems facing the first phase were corrected, giving them a more secure base of knowledge upon which plans and decisions could be made. Otherwise, the company risks duplicating and compounding the problems encountered with its first phase.