Walt Disney Company And Its International Theme Parks

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Before discussing the cultural missteps taken by the Walt Disney Company (TWDC) at their international theme parks, a quick overview of the company and its international theme parks will be given. The Walt Disney Company is an entertainment conglomerate with business divisions in movies, television, radio, theater, publishing, and theme parks. Since the focus of this paper is international theme parks, only a brief history of the American theme parks will be discussed. Walt Disney thought of the idea of the theme park one day when he took his daughters to a local park and watched them as they rode the merry-go-round (Disney, 2009). Disney wanted a place where children and their parents could have fun and enjoy the rides together (Disney,…show more content…
Tokyo Disneyland
Tokyo Disneyland (TDL) was the Walt Disney Company’s first attempt at planning and developing an international theme park. In the 1970’s after Walt Disney’s death, the Walt Disney Company was not doing well financially when the Oriental Land Company (OLC) approached the company about opening a theme park in Tokyo. The Oriental Land Company, according to Raz (1999), author of Riding the Black Ship: Japan and Tokyo Disneyland, is a partnership between two large firms in Japan, the Mitsui Real Estate Development and Keisei Electric Railway (p.4). The Walt Disney Company was hesitant to open a new theme park in its current financial state, but the OLC offered them a deal that was hard to resist. The Oriental Land Company would own and operate the Tokyo Disneyland while the Walt Disney Company would receive “10 percent of admissions fees and 5 percent of the revenues from food and souvenir sales” (Raz, 1999, p. 27). The Walt Disney Company also received licensing fees up to 20 million dollars for their characters, attractions, and more, as well as control over the design of the park and control of park operations (Raz, 1999, p. 27; Eisner & Schwartz, 1998, p.263). Although the deal seemed alluring at the time, the Walt Disney Company would soon come to regret the deal they made with the Oriental Land Company.
Tokyo Disneyland opened on April 15th, 1983 and is described as “a carbon copy of its American counterparts”
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