Disneyland Paris A Case Study


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Disneyland Paris: A case study

Executive summary

Operations management is an imperative component of anorganization’s business success factor. In this regards, theDisneyland case study demonstrates how organizations can becomesuccessful and competitive by engaging constructively in operationsmanagement. The discourse will describe the inauguration of EuroDisney and the decisions that followed the launch including marketingapproach, planned management, relationships, and mistakes made duringthe establishment. Upon its establishment, the company facedchallenges in terms of internal marketing such as staffing and lackof partnerships, marketing mistakes, and relationship withstakeholders, press, and the government. However, the subsequentstrategies employed and the resolution of the mentioned mistakesallowed the company to offer a cultural imperialism, integrate theromanticism of France, and transplant the park into a Europeanaffair. In addition, the company incorporated ethnocentrism andself-reference standard, which ensured that it met clients’ tastesand preferences. On the other hand, a structured marketing strategyallowed the company to ascertain the missing link in clients’preferences and tastes, develop a homogenous pricing strategy, andcreate a dynamic communication structure with the press,stakeholders, and the government. In this regards, the discourse willdemonstrate how the company Europeanized the park and focused onemotional aspects of clients to counteract the initial mistakes thatit made.

Operations management definition

In business, there is consumption, marketing and service delivery.All these take place in the face of the public. However, there arecertain operations that take place in the public. This is what isknown in the business as Operations Management. One of the mainconcerns of operations management is that it is involved with thecreation of the products and services that the public enjoy. However,it presents some challenges too. Some of the challenges are that theproducts of operations management have to satisfy global andenvironmental standards. For instance, presenting new products to afresh geographical environment means that the organization has toconvince the new target market to like the products and services.This is why companies have to commit themselves to producing goodsand services that best suit the customers of the regions they areselling to. Brown and Lamming (2013) say that operations managementranges from strategic to tactical and operations levels. Some of thetactical issues that are involved include plant layout, plantstructure, and project management techniques. At the same time, theoperations management team has to deal with equipment selection andlocation of the manufacturing plants. The discourse will evaluate theoperations management at Disneyland Paris’ as well as offer somerecommendation on improvements.

Markets aimed

Disneyland aimed to expand its business to the European market andJapanese markets. Initially, Tokyo Disneyland was owned and operatedby the Oriental Land Company. The Founder had however designed andadvised how the park would be run. The management had taken intoconsideration customer satisfaction as the foremost strategy to keepthem. Such an operation needs a SWOT analysis to assess theStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to the business(Hollensen, 2015). By working on the weaknesses, the company was ableto maintain the customers. According to Slack and Johnstone (2010),Disneyland’s major weakness in the Japanese market was the overlyAmerican theme. Additionally, before taking over the park, Disneylandsent trainees from California to prepare for the operations of theTokyo Park. This included nine management employees who were to takeover the key operations of the Park. For one year, the team learnedabout the park’s operations and other important management detailsfor the departments they would be responsible for. While selectingthe team to head the training, there was need for an OperationsManagement training program to select critical thinkers, whopossessed analytical and communication skills supplemented withconfidence, to be able to lead a diverse crew of the Japaneseemployees in preparation for the new park. With this, DisneylandTokyo project was successfully executed, and equally appreciated bythe customers.

In the European marker, Disneyland considered opening a park inFrance, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain (Slack and Johnstone,2010). However, after considering the logistics, the management ruledout Germany, Britain and Italy. France eventually won the battle. TheOperations Management team embarked on creating a park that wouldhave the French feeling, European atmosphere but also importantly, anAmerican theme. Some changes had to be made to create a Frenchfeeling at the park, and amongst them changing the queuing format, asthe French naturally loath the same. The team therefore createdentertainment spots near wild rides to avoid the queuing. Beforeopening, the management also changed the park’s voice actors due topressure to promote the French language. Through these backdooroperations, Disneyland was able to open the French park successfully,regardless of the strong opposition it had faced from the politiciansand part of the public.

Mistakes in France

As Disneyland ventured into France, it was evident that they wouldrun into trouble with their new customers. For instance, there werechallenges from the French that the Park would have too much of theAmerican theme, hence promoting imperialism (Slack and Johnstone,2010). From 1992 up to 2006, there were several mistakes that weredone by the Parks’ managers. The main challenge that the managementfaced was introducing a rather strong cultural product in amulticultural environment. The French park would be the firstever-multicultural park in the world. Language, themes, heritage, andtraditions were some of the issues that had to be balanced in orderto gratify the clienteles and preserve the park’s tradition. On theopening day, the company failed to reach its target number ofcustomers the problem being their rigidity with the American culture(Slack and Johnstone, 2010). All Disney parks are traditionallyalcohol-free. However, the Europeans are known for their liking ofalcoholic drinks. As such, the company failed to attract the numberswho preferred o have a drink as they had fun. Secondly, Euro-Disneylost a number of its employees, who were uncomfortable with thecompany’s work policy and ethics. The Human Resource managersfailed to take into account the needs of its workforce, such asmotivation and better communication. Additionally, the operationsmanagement team failed to satisfy the expectations of the Americancustomers, who expected the services to be of the American Parks’standards.

The management also failed to distinguish and handle customers fromvarious backgrounds, according to their culture and habits. Forinstance, some customers preferred using waste bins while others justdrop their litter. This further deteriorated the park’s generalcleanliness. Other habits that the management failed to handle werequeuing and general discipline. Most of the negative feedback thatthe park received was from the Northern Europeans, who were ratherorganized than the Southern Europeans, claiming that the company didnot treat all the customers fairly (Slack and Johnstone, 2010).Additionally, many people felt that the company’s organization andoperations exploited the European heritage and had little or noconnection with the French tradition. As such, questions were raisedas to whether Disney felt that the American entertainment wassuperior to the European entertainment. From 1992 to 2006, thecompany failed to live up to the expected European standards.Therefore, the major mistakes that the company made in France werehandling tradition, heritage, and culture.

Operations management recommendations

While selecting the operations management steps to take to ensurefuture success in Disneyland Paris, there are numerous concerns thatneed to be acknowledged, which highlight the previous failures.First, there is need to identify the complex role of national andethnic cultures in multinational establishments. According to thecritics, the company was selling the idealistic American culture to amultinational audience. Secondly, there is need to have a way ofworking with global standardization and adapting to local tensionfrom the customers and stakeholders.

The company has to train its managers on cross-cultural communicationcompetence. The aim of this is to have skills for creating anatmosphere where the customers from various cultural backgrounds canhave an understanding of each other’s culture. This would helpsolve cultural conflict problems, such as that between the NorthernEuropeans and Southern Europeans. Given that globalization has becomea megatrend in the modern business environment, there is a need forthe management to have critical global mind-sets and cross-culturalvalues to lead a diverse workforce effectively (Okoro, 2013). Belowis an operations management diagram for the concept of culturalconvergence.

Figure1: Cultural diversity and its influence on management. Source(Rijamampianina, 2000)

Using this model, Disneyland will be in a position of shiftingindividual management styles to accommodate cultures, which helps ineliminating negativities such as typecasting, ethnocentrism andprovincialism. By interacting with the customers and shareholders,they will be motivated by various elements of their culture, whichthey will use to envision the best strategies for creating ambianceto accommodate all. The eventual learning process will lead to betterperformance in the future.

Given That Disneyland assumed that the Europeans would love theAmerican things, they failed to consider that the French had anegative attitude towards the “arrogant attitude” exhibited bythe American management style. To solve this problem, a totaloverhaul of the top management would be most appropriate. This wouldbe complimented with promotion of more Europeans to the topmanagement positions at the Paris Park.

Advice for the next 20 years

Having celebrated its 20th anniversary, the Companyplanned to have more success in the coming years. As such, in thenext 20 years, this paper gives advice on how to improve theirprofits and success. First, the operations management team has toreduce the research and implementations of new services, as well asdevelopment of new goods at the Park. The European entertainmenttrends are quite fast evolving, and taking time to develop andexecute new concepts may lead to losing of patience amongst thecustomers. Additionally, the company’s operations management has tofind ways of achieving and sustaining the highest qualities ofproducts and services while controlling the cost at the same time.Some efforts by the company of doing this in the past did not takeinto consideration cost issues and economies of scale. The companyalso has to ensure that in the coming years, it obtains trains andmaintains the highest qualified workers. They should also ensure thatthe workers’ welfare is taken into consideration so that they arekept satisfied with the company’s operations at all times. Therationale for this piece of advice is that the company lost severalworkers in the past years due to lack of motivation, and that theEuropeans, especially the French people, did not like the managerialattitude of the company’s American managers.

Brief (2012) says that one of the failures of multinationalcompanies’ operating models is that they create a superstructureand accountabilities, but do not adequately consider soft issues ofthe organizational model. Therefore, as not to fail in its innovationin the future, Disneyland Paris needs to hire a team of experts toboost the capability of streamlining its operational model. By doingthis, it will have a team that is great in innovation, consequentlydetermining new solutions for customer’s needs. Hence, theoperations management team will realize that even the most carefullydesigned superstructures cannot deliver improvement. Future success,therefore, lies in innovation to satisfy the European customers, aswell as creating more space for improvement. In addition, the companyneeds to integrate the emotional aspects of clients and thesurrounding in its future strategies whether marketing or pricing toensure that it remains valuable. Operations management helps acompany in structuring different aspects of management, but withoutproper planning and engagement with employees and stakeholders, acompany cannot realize any stride. In this regards, the company needto look at the experience that clients receive and use thatexperience to create an emotional aspect will appeal.


Brief, B. 14 September 2012. Winning Operating Models. [Online].Available at: &lthttp://www.bain.com/publications/articles/winning-operating-models.aspx&gt[Accessed 9 March 2015].

Brown, S.,Bessant, J. R., and Lamming, R. (2013)&nbspStrategicOperations Management.New York, NY: Routledge.

Chambers, A.N. and Johnstone, R. (2010) Operations Management 6thEd. Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Hollensen, S.(2015)&nbspMarketingmanagement: A relationship approach.Pearson Education.

Okoro, E. (2013) “International Organizations and Operations: AnAnalysis of Cross-Cultural Communication Effectiveness and ManagementOrientation”, Journal of Business &amp Management. 1(1):1-13.

Rijamampianina, R. (2000) “Effective Management on MulticulturalOrganizations”, Economic Journal of Hokkaido University. 25:119-167.