The Benefits of International Market Research. Introducing Disneyland to New Markets.

Essay, 2019

20 Pages, Grade: 2,3



Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Introduction to International Market Research

3. Background Information on Disneyland
3.1. The Walt Disney Company
3.2. Disneyland Concept for Resorts World-Wide
3.3. Development of Disneyland Pairs
3.4. Challenges of Disneyland Paris

4. Secondary Data Market Research
3.1. Disneyland California
3.2. Disneyland Paris

5. Conclusion

6. Literature
6.1 Figures
6.2 Online
6.3 Print

1. Introduction

Nowadays, the Walt Disney Company is known all over the world. It has set up different businesses in over 40 countries, including six Disneyland resorts. When Walter Elias Disney created the plan for the first Disneyland, the Disneyland Resort in California, he had a vision of a constantly growing and changing amusement park full of imagination.

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” - Walt Disney1

After Walter Elias dead and the financial success of the first Disneyland in California, the Walt Disney Company tried to continue to fulfil his vision. They created new Disneyland’s in Florida, Tokyo, France, Hongkong and Shanghai. All the amusement parks generated huge profits for the Walt Disney Company except Disneyland Paris, which makes losses of nearly €2 billion. As the Disneyland concept worked in California, Florida and Tokyo, the Walt Disney Company did not consider it as necessary to do profound market research before opening Disneyland Paris.

The paper will look into the benefits of international market research for a global company like The Walt Disney Company when expanding to foreign markets on the example of the financial disaster of Disney Paris. After an introduction to international market research and the Walt Disney Company, secondary market data of Disneyland California and Paris will be compared. From the data a conclusion will be drawn, if a global company like the Walt Disney Company can operate with only one market concept or if international market research and a small adaptation of the concept to the foreign market has any significant benefits in terms of market success.

2. Introduction to International Market Research

To understand why market research is so important, we must take a closer look at the definition. Market research in general is the investigation of markets. It consists out of two terms. The term “Market” which is defined as the meeting point for demand and supply. The second term “Research” refers to systematic collection of data using scientific methods2. In the paper I will work with the definition, that market research includes the acquisition, evaluation and interpretation of current and future marketing situations and decisions within an enterprise. Furthermore, it encompasses the systematic collection, preparation, analysis and interpretation of data on consumers, competitors and other influential groups with the purpose of defining a foundation for marketing decisions3. The overall aim is to attenuate possible risks, through collecting information on future short- and long-term developments. It furthermore tries to tone down problems in the decision making as there is always uncertainty and incompleteness. And market research tries to minder the risk of taking wrong decisions and instead improve the quality of company decisions4. In addition, the function of market research is to tie the consumer to producer. The information gathered through market research is used to identify opportunities to develop, to modernize, to review marketing measures and their success5.

Market research is important not just for the company in general but also for each department of the company, as it can help for orientation and gives guidance for decision making6.

With globalization and growing interdependence, not only market research but international market research became more and more important. There is no differentiation between these two terms, except that international market research is applied to foreign markets not the domestic market. With a more intensive international interweaving through export and foreign branches information about foreign markets became more important. When two decades ago the first companies expanded abroad, they reported losses and difficulties because they were not used to the new conditions which differed greatly from the domestic market. Through internationalization the concentration of firms abroad increased and international market research became even more important7. Nowadays each global company takes advantage of international market research to minimize risk and increase the quality of their decision making regarding new markets, marketing, or new products to prevent losses and maximize profits. They either have an internal department to do the research or hire companies specified in international market research to do so. International market research helps to determine and understand the taste of foreign markets and to understand cultural differences which can be a treat to business if there are not taken into account.

3. Background Information on Disneyland

3.1. The Walt Disney Company

Walter Elias Disney is known as the most significant figure in graphic arts. Together with his brother Roy he created the imperium of Disney.

In 1923 Walter Elias Disney moved to Hollywood and together with his brother Roy Disney, he construct a camera stand to produce cartoons. Soon they received their first order and started producing8. In October 1923, The Walt Disney Company9 was born, originally named The Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. Both brothers were equal partners, however Walter Elias Disney was the creative part, who created the characters and brought them to life.

The first success for the company came in 1928 with their first cartoon star Mickey Mouse. Disney became even more successful when merchandising of the characters was added as an additional source of revenue.

When World War II started, Disney struggled. They released two more films during the war period but the costs were too high. Instead of making more family films and cartoons they focused on making propaganda and training films for the military on request of the state department. This made it difficult for the Disney Studio to regain its pre-war prominence. In the 1950s Disney was able to tie on to the old successes.

When Walter Disney died in 1966, his plans left behind carried the company for a number of years under the supervision of his brother Roy Disney, until he died five years later10. The Walt Disney legacy however continued to entertain children and adults alike around the world11. The next decade the company was led by a management team. But movie making changed in America in the early 1980s and Disney struggled again. A new management team brought economic upswing. They updated The Walt Disney Company through launching their own cable network, The Disney Channel. Soon Disney was back to its old success. They released video cassettes, ventured onto Broadway and opened Disney stores world-wide. Close to the new century, they reached the $25 billion revenue threshold for the first time12.

Over the past decades The Walt Disney Company has grown and diversified on a large scale, operating in different industries including media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products13, luxury cruise ships who stop at Disney’s own island paradise, a national hockey league team, as well as a national baseball team14.

Together with 36 subsidiary companies, including Pixar Animation Studio, Marvel Entertainment, George Lucas’ Lucasfilm, etc.

In 2018, it was listed as the strongest, most powerful brand in the world. It is well recognized, as Disney is active in over 40 countries, and ranked as the fourth most reputable company in 2017. In 2017 Disney generated more than $55 billion in revenue15.

3.2. Disneyland Resorts World-Wide

“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome! Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America ... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.” - Dedication read by Walt Disney - July 17, 195516

Never being satisfied with his work, Walt Disney felt the desire to branch out. As a father of two daughters, he has visited many zoos, entertainment prices, etc. but felt that all the attractions where only developed for children. As an adult he always ended up sitting on the bench, whilst his two daughters had all the fun. That is when he developed the idea of amusement parks, where children and their parents could all have a good time together. This was the genesis of the first Disneyland Resort in California, which opened in 1955.

Due to the success of the Disneyland Resort in California, it was natural for the two brothers to consider another Disneyland Park. Unfortunately, Walter Disney died before the second Park opened in 1971, the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. As it became the premier vacation destination in the world, plans for more Disney Parks developed. In 1983 the first foreign Disney Park opened, the Tokyo Disney Resort. Followed by Disneyland Euro in 199217, Hongkong Disneyland in 2005 and lately Shanghai Disney Resort in 201618.

Quickly, the Parks have outgrown their competitors. In 2015, all Disney Parks made about four times more revenue than its closest competitor, the Chinese Town Parks in China.

Furthermore, with over 150 million attendees in 2017, Disney has by far the largest amusement park chain in the world19.

3.3. Development of Disneyland Paris

After the successes of Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and Tokyo Disney Resort, plans for a Disney Park in Europe developed. However, finding enough hectares of flat land in Europe, was quite difficult. After long discussions the choice was finally made in favour of Paris-France and against Spain. Even though Spain would offer the better weather conditions, incentives from the French government draw the final decision towards Paris20. This incentive included grants, tax reductions to 7% and improvements in the infrastructure, including building a trainline to Disneyland. Under that conditions and with the promise of Disney, not to build another Disneyland in Europe in the next five years and respecting the French culture, the contract for the fourth Disney Park was signed in 1987.

Only five years later, in 1992, Disneyland Europe, later renamed to Disneyland Paris opened. From the beginning, the aim was to attract 11million visitors in the first year and having a room occupancy of 85% which should, together with the restaurants, contribute 50% to the total revenue21. Soon after the Park was opened it became Europe’s top tourist destination22.

Disneyland Paris was constantly further developed. Nowadays the Park includes five areas within the Park with over 50 attractions, four Walt Disney Studios, one shopping center, 14 Hotels, over 50 restaurants and a gulf court23. In 2016 the Park was able to attract 13.4 million visitors and therefore is still after 25 years Europe’s top tourist destination24.

3.4. Challenges of Disneyland Paris

Throughout the years Disneyland Paris had to and still must deal with several internal and external challenges.

External challenges include strikes and protests, air France strike, gas shortage, the weather conditions for example the floods in Paris, (terror) attacks and the resulting state of emergency for several years. Due to this uncertainty’s visitor numbers declined25.

Internal factors include the name Disneyland Euro, the American team model, the strict dress policy violated the French labour law, missing the consumers taste and the miscalculated length of stay, as well as the spending per day26.

Whereas the external problems can hardly be influenced, the internal can. They will be analysed in more detail later in the paper.

As a result of the internal and external challenges, Disneyland Paris faced huge financial problems. The decrease in visitors over the years, the sales collapse through rising investments and a decrease in revenue27 increased the debts to €1.9 billion by 201228.


1 Cf. Brookshier, L. (2018): 15 Walt Disney Quotes That Will Inspire You To Live A Magical Life.

2 Cf. Berekoven, L. et al. (2009): Marktforschung Methodische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendungen. p. 1.

3 Cf. Dr. Mohsen, F. (2019): International Market Research, p. 8f.

4 Cf. Berekoven, L. et al. (2009): Marktforschung Methodische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendungen, p. 4.

5 Cf. Berekoven, L. et al. (2009): Marktforschung Methodische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendungen, p. 6.

6 Cf. Berekoven, L. et al. (2009): Marktforschung Methodische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendungen, p. 3.

7 Cf. Magerhans, A. (2016): Marktforschung Eine praxisorientierte Einführung, p. 322.

8 Cf. Disney (n.y.): About Walt Disney.

9 In the paper also referred to as Disney

10 Cf. Disney (n.y.): Disney History.

11 Cf. Statista (n.y.): Disney - Statistics & Facts.

12 Cf. Disney (n.y.): Disney History.

13 Cf. Statista (n.y.): Disney - Statistics & Facts.

14 Cf. Disney (n.y.): Disney History.

15 Cf. Statista (n.y.): Disney - Statistics & Facts.

16 Cf. Disney (n.y.): Disneyland Park: Fact Sheet.

17 Later renamed in Disneyland Paris

18 Cf. Disney (n.y.): Disney History.

19 Cf. Statista (n.y.): Disney - Statistics & Facts.

20 Cf. Ballester, L. (2012): The year that Valencia dreamed of Disney.

21 Cf. Richards, B. and Richards G. (2019): A Globalised Theme Park Market? The Case of Disney in Europe. P. 8-10

22 Cf. Statista (n.y.): Disney - Statistics & Facts.

23 Cf. Disney (n.y.): General information about Disneyland Paris.

24 Cf. Statista (n.y.): Disney - Statistics & Facts.

25 Cf. Schneider, T. (2016): Jahresergebnis 2016 der Euro Disney SCA — ein Katastrophenjahr.

26 Cf. Stange, S. (2012): Case Study: Disneyland Resort Paris.

27 Cf. Schneider, T. (2016): Jahresergebnis 2016 der Euro Disney SCA — ein Katastrophenjahr.

28 Cf. Neate R. et. al. (2012): Disneyland Paris celebrates 20th birthday €1.9bn in debt.

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The Benefits of International Market Research. Introducing Disneyland to New Markets.
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benefits, international, market, research, introducing, disneyland, markets
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Anonymous, 2019, The Benefits of International Market Research. Introducing Disneyland to New Markets., Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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