The article, “The Kingdom Inside a Republic” discusses Disney’s initial transition into Europe. Can you explain the initial transition into Europe?
Can you also explain the implications of successfully making a transition with the introduction of an American product into a new culture?
The creation of a Disneyland in Europe followed the success of a similar venture in Japan in 1983 which met with great success in a country where Western culture is admired and imitated by many. however, when Euro Disney opened outside of Paris (an initial site in Southern France near Marseille was abandoned when shallow bedrock was encountered), it did not meet with the immediate success of Japan's Disneyland. For one thing, the name of the park suggested negative connotations to the French people, who felt that it conjured the idea of American cultural imperialism; in addition, some felt that it would encourage American consumerism and effect a loss of better values. In 2002, Disneyland underwent a name change; CEO Michael Eisner explained the rationale for this change,
As Americans, the word ‘Euro’ is believed to mean glamorous or exciting. For Europeans it turned out to be a term they associated with business, currency, and commerce. Renaming the park ‘Disneyland Paris’ was a way of identifying it with one of the most romantic and exciting cities in the world.
After disappointing attendance from its opening until 1995(25,000 people per day rather than the expected 60,000), and Disneyland lost many of its employees who resigned because of working conditions, negotiations were made to avert bankruptcy. An attorney from New York City and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General, and Disney's lead negotiator, Sanford Litvack made an agreement with banks that bought U.S. $500 million worth of Euro Disney shares and forgave interest on loans. Disneyland invested $750 million and granted a suspension of royality payment for five years. Picking up 24.5% of the shares was Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. So, after these negotiations and the renaming of the park, Disneyland Paris began to make a profit, especially when a new ride was introduced, Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune [from the Earth to the Moon], which became instantaneously popular. Another change that was made and became a profitable one was the allowance of alcoholic beverages, which hitherto had been restricted as in the U.S., to be served in the restaurant section.
After its initial failure, Disneyland Paris then begain to make profits. Because it seemed an intrusive company that meant to force Americanism upon a country, Disneyland at first did not make profits. However, once it embraced the French culture and had many competent French working in the restaurant, and elsewhere, the park began to make profits. Indeed, a company must balance its identity with a respect for the new culture in which it finds itself emerging; it cannot completely divorce itself from its own culture, yet it must acknowledge that foreign presence, too.