Disney in Dragon Kingdom


By

Mohankumar D
Research Associate
ICFAI Business School Research Center
Chennai
E- mail:
mohanvsi@yahoo.co.in / mhnkmrdeva@yahoo.com
 


"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse ."
                                                                                                                         ---- Walt Disney

Disneyland, the world largest "themed amusement park" established by Walt Disney Company in 1955. It was the popular destination in the world, which was considered to be the combination of animation with entertainment. Disneyland entered Hong Kong on September12th, 2005, a decade after their establishment of "international theme park" in Tokyo, Japan on1983.Cartoon characters were the wonderful attractions in their theme park situated around the world. In Hong Kong too, "Mickey Mouse" cartoons dressed in Chinese traditional yellow color, deemed to be the magnificent attractions for the customers from homeland in addition to other foreign countries. It brought hectic competition with well established Ocean Park, the favorite park for several generations of parents and kids.

Disneyland:

The Disneyland, a theme park, at "Disneyland resort" in Anaheim, California owned and operated by Walt Disney Company.  In 1923 Walt Disney and his brother Roy headed Disney studio, a famous Hollywood studio, long before the idea of theme park was evolved. Walt gave his whole thought of mind to create a new park, where parents enjoy fun with their children. Many citizens wrote a letter to Walt Disney about visiting Disney Studio and meeting their favorite Disney characters. Walt realized that functional studio offers little entertainment to the customers. He fostered the ideas of building a place at his "Burbank" studio for visitors and allowed them to take photos with their favorite cartoon characters which were set in statue form. Walt Disney's Idea then evolved into a small play park with boat ride and other themed parks. Gradually it was progressed in to superior model of today's largest enterprise, known as Disneyland. Walt Disney was partially inspired by "Tivoli" gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark and "Children's Fairy Land" built in California. With this inspiration he built a new park on eight acres near the Disney studio in Burbank, California, primarily considered to be the leisure place for his employees and their families. Walt planned this theme park with additional area plus huge investment, but his brother distrusted this project. Subsequently Walt Disney was compelled to agree upon outside financing for his theme park. This led him to raise money through new means, such as by the creation of a new show called as "Disneyland"; which was broadcasted through American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network. In return the network was agreed to finance the new park.

On the suggestion of researchers at "Stanford Research institute" Disney acquired 160 acres of land in the potential growth area in Anaheim, south of Los Angeles in neighboring "Orange" County. Then Walt Disney began the construction of "Disneyland" on 18th July 1954. Simultaneously US 'highways 101' was also constructed just north of the site where the groundwork for traffic was built by the US government.  Additionally two more lanes were added to the freeway even before the completion of park. The theme park was constructed with the cost of US$ 17 million, which was opened to public on 18th July 1955. During the inauguration, "special Sunday events" were televised nationwide with dedication and was anchored by three of Walt Disney's friend from Hollywood Art Link letter, Bob Cummings, and Ronald Reagan(40 th president of United States).For the first five year of operations, Disneyland owned by Disneyland Inc of which Disney productions and ABC possessed 50% stakes each. In 1960 Walt Disney productions bought back 50% shares of ABC in the theme park and claimed its complete ownership and management operations.

Disneyland yielded enormous success in US as well as attracted the visitors from the entire world in an unprecedented manner. After the enormous success Walt Disney and Roy were planned for an expansion of this new concept in to other locations in US. This expansion plan was implemented in Florida, by the construction of "Walt Disney world resort" in lake 'Buena Vista', followed by amusement park around the motel. It was the largest private owned vacation-destination and considered to be the popular destination in the world. The Disneyland in Florida was opened in 1971 under the guidance of Roy O' Disney.  Progressively, expansion plan was stretched out to other countries.

Convincingly, the first international expansion was initiated by the inauguration of Disneyland theme park in Tokyo, Japan on 1983 and "Tokyo Disneyland "was considered to be the first theme park of Disneyland in Asia. Later it was developed in to resort with two theme parks, two Disney hotels, and two shopping complexes. "Tokyo Disneyland", deemed to be the first theme park of Disneyland opened outside US. Now it became the part of "Tokyo Disney resort". In 1993 it was expanded to European continent by the inauguration of new theme park in France, called as "Euro Disney". In 2002, Euro Disney incurred losses continuously for three years and it was reported to be US $ 2.9 billion. The Bloomberg market report said that it failed to attract enough customers; since the park opened in April 1992 it had been criticized for American imperialism - it was once branded a cultural Chernobyl - and undergone two major financial restructurings. Presently it was called as "Disneyland Resort Paris" with the advent of two new theme parks. Tokyo Disneyland was also never far away from the criticism in terms of its performance which in turn measured by revenue generation. It also considered to be an under performed theme park.

The "Hong Kong Disneyland" park lay out comprised of so many attractions to encourage the number of visitors from the home land and foreign countries too. The Park was designed by Walt Disney's movie studio staff on the basis of five distinctive themed lands which includes 'Main Street USA', (home to many shops, styled on 1880s based shops) 'Adventure Land', (designed to be tropical place far off region of the world) 'Frontier land',( was recreated  the settings of pioneer days of native Americans lived on the bank of River of America), 'Fantasy land'(called as wonderland for youths) 'King Aurthur Carousel' ( an amusement flat ride  ,consisting of rotating platform with seats for passengers and seats were made up of woods and called as roundabouts or Merry ground ) 'Tomorrow land'(attractions had been designed to give children an opportunity to participate in the adventure) 'New Orleans Square' (it had been created on the basis of architectural details of New Orleans`s, Bourbon street), 'Critter country' (featuring Audio Animatronics' bear), 'Mickey's Toontown' (it was created on the basis of toon characters appeared in Walt Disney pictures)...etc.The entry fee for this park was charged at HK $ 295 and HK$ 350 for adult in the regular   and peak season respectively. Like wise it was charged at HK $ 210 - HK $250 for child at regular and peak season.  The price list for senior citizens also charged at HK $ 170 HK $ 200.

The Revenue at Parks and Resorts was increased by 7%, from $161 million, to $2.4 billion. The raise in income was mainly due to the performance of Walt Disney resort and Disney land resort which accrued US $ 92 million and US $ 70 million respectively. At the Walt Disney world resort, the income were driven by the theme park guests spending and increased occupied room nights, which happened due to the few promotional programmes launched in the first quarter of 2005. During the same quarter the company launched two new programs such as 'Disney's Magical express' and 'Extra magical hours' as well as they were designed to increase the occupancy levels at Disney world resorts. At the Disneyland Resort, augmented revenues were primarily due to higher theme park guest expenditures and increased attendance.  The higher guest spending was due to increased ticket price, while increased attendance was in turn due to the strength of the 50th anniversary celebration. Disneyland in California celebrated 50th anniversary by festivities which included fireworks and confetti display, were set outside the sleeping beauty castle as well as broadcasted their images which echoed fanfare of the park launch in 1955. The annual report published on 10 th August 2005, indicated that the attendance in the domestic theme park increased by 1% in comparison to the first quarter of 2004, while attendance at Disney world resort increased by 6%.At the same time, theme park guest spending  increased by 11%.( refer annexure 4) for Disneyland in 2005 in comparison to the previous year.

Ocean Park:

"Ocean Park", non profit organization, famous for maritime creatures and animal theme park in "Wong Chuk Hang" and "Nam Long Shan", Hong Kong; which was opened in January 1977.This amusement park was built on both sides of mountain which  covered 8,70,000 square metres of land. Initially the amusement park was built with the assistance of "The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club" (a non profit organization whose offerings were horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment services in Hong Kong).  At present the theme park had over 40 rides and attractions as well as it became the world class tourism spot in Hong Kong after years of efforts with the number of visitors were exceeding over 4 millions in the year 2005.

The amusement park was operated by "Ocean Park Corporation" which was a statutory board in Hong Kong, was offering marine animal education and entertainments which was considered to be non profit organization. The Ocean Park was comprised of two sections called as headland and lowland, connected by 1.5k m long cable car system; which offered spectacular panoramic views of southern side of Hong Kong and South China Sea while visitors were riding through it. At headland, the park encompassed many rides such as Dragon, Eagle, Crazy Galleon, Ferris wheel, Ocean park tower, Flying swing, Raging river, Space wheel, Mine train, and the newly opened Abyss Turbo drop; a heart throbbing thrill ride that was providing a free fall experience from a height of 62 metres. The rides in Headland was complemented as well as entertained by the live performance of Dolphins, and Sea lions each day. At the park's "Tai Shu Wan" site, there was access to the birds' aviary (l birds were kept in large cage)".

At the Low land visitors were deemed to be excited by the delightful "An An" and "Jia Jia", a pair of giant Pandas presented by the central government of China. Adjacent to the giant Panda habitat, was featuring more than 100 gold fish Pagoda of 42 species. Other attractions were includes 'Amazing Amazon', 'Butterfly house', 'Dinosaur- now and then', 'whiskers wild ride' and Kid's world. Besides kid's world, was Dolphin University where the interaction of visitors with dolphins was encouraged. The other hotspots were marine land and adventure land of Ocean Park. The entry fee for adults and kids were divided in to "smart fun annual pass" and "general admission ticket" for a day. The "Smart fun annual gold pass" for adult and child were charged at HK $ 450 and HK $ 250 respectively. Like wise "Smart fun silver pass" were charged at HK $ 375 and HK $ 188 for Adults and child respectively. The general admission ticket for a day was charged at HK $ 70 in weekdays and the same was charged at HK $ 80 during the weekends and public holidays.

Background

Hong Kong's international image - World hostility towards China had seriously affected Hong Kong's ability to stand on its own for international promotion purpose. It was therefore important in building up a positive image to counter the bad publicity. Hong Kong tourism and travel department planned to increase the image of Hong Kong. The tourism sector accounted for 5.7% of GDP of Hong Kong in 2002 and employed 10.7% of total workforce in the tourism and travel department. Since the break down of SARS at the beginning of April 2003, business in Hong Kong tourism and travel department was dropped below 60% and paved the way for downfall of tourism and travel department. After few months it showed slow and gradual progress in Hong Kong tourism development due to the relaxation of Chinese government regulations in 2003, through which allowed its nationals to visit Hong Kong. A new landmark was reached in August 2004, where visitors exceeded 2 million in a single month for the first time which was announced by Hong Kong tourism board on  29thSeptember 2004.It was considered to be the second month in  a row that the record had been broken, followed by 1.99 million people arrivals in July2004.( Refer annexure 2). The latest reports showed that 20, 67240 visitors traveled to Hong Kong in July 2005, due to the major attraction, Hong Kong shopping festival in late June 2005.

For the past two years, Zeman served as chairman of Ocean Park, a theme attraction with dolphin shows, cable cars, and thrill rides. Launched almost three decades ago and owned by the Hong Kong government, Ocean Park was deemed to be a favorite destination for several generations of parents and kids. Millions of tourists from mainland China visited Ocean Park, and their numbers were increased over the decade. The Sep12, 2005 was deemed to be the Disneyland schedule in Hong Kong, believed to brought the fortune for Hong Kong tourism and travel industry. But it unveiled the competition between Disneyland and Ocean Park to be hectic.

The Disneyland in Hong Kong was formed as the joint venture between Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) government and Walt Disney firm for the development of their tourism and Travel department. This agreement was signed on November 2, 1999 and also it was endorsed by the legislative council and executive council later on the same month. The financial secretary, Mr. Donald Tsang, said that this agreement was "win win" deal for both parties .He further added that the theme park would generate thousands of new jobs in addition to the substantial tangible economic benefits for Hong Kong during the signing ceremony.

Hong Kong Disneyland (www.hongkongdisneyland.com/eng)  a $1.8 billion project that formed an integral part of a renewed push to strengthen and consolidate Hong Kong's position as Asia's most popular international destination. The Hong Kong government invested huge amount of US $ 1.7 billion in infrastructure for the project mainly reclaimed land on the sea and on road links. The construction of Disney Land Park began on Jan 2003 in Hong Kong and it was completed after two years. Besides this Mass Transit Rail Corp. decided to build the 3.5-kilometer (2-mile) train line to the park, with a price tag of 2 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$257 million; euro197 million). The line was linked to the existing subway system and would be able to shuttle about 10,000 passengers per hour to the park.

Hong Kong Disneyland was the first theme park in China. It was also the first Disney theme park that's modeled so closely to the first Disneyland in California. About 1,000 reporters from around the world were flew in to cover the  the opening ceremony of the Walt Disney Co.'s 11th theme park - an attraction with two resort hotels on a bay surrounded by mountains on Lantau, Hong Kong's largest island. Disneyland held a rehearsal prior to the opening ceremony that gave thousands of guests a sneak peak of the park. Disneyland received a warm welcome in Hong Kong, by the large crowds and guests during the inaugural ceremony held on 12th september2005. The large crowds were spent part of their weekend strolling around a long red-brick public promenade outside the park. Grandmothers limped along on canes, mothers pushed strollers and teenage couples held hands as they took in the new scenery. The park featured a pink Snow White Castle and the popular rides found at the U.S. Disneylands, including Space Mountain, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Jungle River Cruise. It also featured the Broadway-style show ``Festival of the Lion King'' and daily parades with Disney characters on Main Street, USA - the park's main strip lined with shops and restaurants. The Disneyland was celebrated the opening ceremony with Hollywood stars, renowned Pop singers of china and Hong Kong starred Emil Chau, multiple platinum album Hong Kong recording artist; Andy Hui, Hong Kong singer and film star; singer-actor Eason Chan; 13-year-old piano virtuoso Rachel Cheung; Brad Kane, the American voice of 'Aladdin'; Coco Lee, Chinese pop star; Paige O'Hara, voice of Belle in 'Beauty and the Beast'; Lea Salonga, Broadway musical theater star and the voice of 'Mulan'; and Joey Yung, award-winning Cantonese/Mandarin singer. The evening entertainment was concluded with dazzling Disney in the stars firework show.

The park was a 30-minute subway ride from central Hong Kong, and it served by its own public rail line - the only one in the world specially built for a theme park. The train had windows shaped like Mickey Mouse's head and the subway cars sport velvet theater seats and statues of Disney characters. The Disney land, a smaller park than any other parks, which was built on 121 hectares (298 acres), an undeniable fact by Disney officials. The media reported that 18,000 visitors turned out there to join the beginning of Disneyland inauguration in Hong Kong on 12th September 2005.. Walt Disney Co. President "Robert Iger" said that Hong Kong Disneyland, the company's 11th theme park, was a giant step in the company's plans to break into China's huge market. It was considered by "Iger" , the biggest venture by an American icon had ever boarded on this Chinese soil, not just in terms of scope by financial perspective, but the commitment it took, detail, planning, technology and training. "In the past, people used to say Hong Kong was an entrepreneurs' playground and a shopper's paradise. But with Disneyland presence, more culture and entertainment services were made available in Hong Kong. It would further become a tourist mecca," Chinese vice president Zeng said at the inaugural celebration of Hong Kong Disneyland.

The arrival of "Tom MehrMann" as Ocean Park new Chief Executive in 2004 was magically timed. The mainland visitors had contributed hugely to the improvement of Ocean Park in the past year. The foundation for a period of major transformation had been laid with visitors increased by 25% at 3.7 million ,revenues up by 25% at HK$536 million and surplus of HK96 $million for the year 2002-2003 and considered to be the  second most profitable year on record. This robust improvement was happened due to the relaxation in travel rules laid by the Chinese government in the year 2003-2004. This was the first time, where the independent mainland visitors visited Hong Kong in large numbers. The ocean park's growth was largely influenced by the mainland visitors, which was considered to be the immense contributor for their growth in the year 2003-04, with mainland visitors accounted for more than half of all visitors to their park. A further major contributor to the year's sterling performance was paradoxically, the conservatism demanded by extraordinary challenges generated by last year SARS crisis.

The meticulous review of cost and resultant savings initiatives contributed financially to the financial success for the year 2003-04.Since this enabled the park success and growth rate from the lowered operational basis. Ocean Park achieved a significant landmark by the attendances of its 4 millionth visitor for the fiscal year 2004/2005 the highest attendance number ever-recorded in one fiscal year in the Park's 28 years' of operation. Mr. Zeman described the 4 millionth attendances as a "truly outstanding achievement" to Ocean Park. "With the success we achieved in fiscal year 2003/2004, our Park continues to accomplish excellent results in fiscal year 2004/2005, going from 3.68 million to 4 million in attendance. He said that It showed that Hong Kong became more of a family tourist destination, more families would be visiting Hong Kong in the years ahead. Definitely, Ocean Park will be one of their 'must-see' family destinations".

Ocean Park had built itself to be a world-class attraction. It was believed that Over 60 million people had been visited Hong Kong's premier park since its inception and Ocean Park offers adults and children entertainment blended with education and conservation facilities. Ocean Park was threatened by significant competitive challenges from the new arrival Disneyland in Hong Kong during the later period of 2005. A set of special stamps was launched to mark the grand opening of Hong Kong Disneyland on Sept. 12, 2005. Hong Kong Post issued a set of four commemorative stamps, a souvenir sheet, a stamp sheet let and a gold-foiled stamp featured main street USA , fantasyland, adventure land, the world favorite cartoon Mickey mouse. The Net income of Walt Disney was increased 24%, or $443 million, to $2.3 billion in July 2005 in comparison to the total income in 31st June 2004. The raise in net income was principally due to segment operating income growth at the Media Networks and Parks and Resorts segments.

Significant Challenges:

As many travelers described Hong Kong where East fused with West, traditional mixed with modern, and the metropolitan blended into the rural. Famous international brands, fancy haute cuisine and glittering skyscrapers coexist alongside street stalls, hand-made dim sum and tranquil temples. In April this year alone, Hong Kong received about 2 million visitors, up 11.9 percent year-on-year.  'Clara Chong', Executive Director of Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) in press report said that US $ 3.5 billion project of Disney magic was considered to be the part of government plan in Developing Hong Kong as major vacation destination for Asians. It was also expected by tourism department that Disney would attract 5.6 million visitors in the first year of inception. She augmented that Hong Kong government invested HK$ 470 million (US $60.3 million) in tourism campaign to take advantage of on the new visits. The city was geared up for Disney magic and also expected to add 14,000 rooms by the end of 2005.

Its rival, Ocean Park, the most successful theme park in Hong Kong for 30 years renovated its operations also considered the complete over haul, which was deemed to be the only way to compete with Disneyland. The renovation plan included new roller coaster, a subzero ice palace, and 7.6 million liter aquarium with under water restaurant. Analyst opined that ocean park replicated Disney's model in the establishment of hotels at the site.

Many visitors complained of queues of more than two hours for some of the most popular rides during the September 4 rehearsal day when 30, 000 people visited the 126hectare park. Disney acknowledged the customers complaint pertaining to lengthy queues and said it might extend opening hours at the park in smoothening the flow of visitors.

It was reported through several media that, Disney's target market was China, and predicted that two-thirds of the visitors were came from mainland. Travel agents in Beijing and Shanghai said demand had been insecure. The main obstruction was price. Although the HK$350 (25) ticket was cheaper than other Disney's theme parks, it was still too expensive for many in China, where the average wage is less than 70 a month. Analyst opined that Ocean Park had edge over Disneyland in the pricing factor, was considered to be merely cheapest than the latter. Alternatively Disneyland, international renowned brand as well as reputed for toon characters, children across the Asia love to take snapshots along with toon characters and also believed to be "must see" destinations for the international as well as Homeland visitors.

It was reported that 16,000 visitors attended the "Hong Kong Disneyland" on opening ceremony comprised of one third of tourist from china. The "Ming Pao Daily" reported on 13th September 2005, that visitors from mainland China violated  the theme park's rules and smoked cigarettes in restaurants and other non-smoking areas, which was considered to be the cultural shock.  Apple daily reported that one-third of the visitors were from mainland during the opening ceremony of Disneyland and found that the hygienic conditions were worse than during the rehearsals, and some have complained that the mainland visitors lack public spirit which would ultimately spoiled the brand image.

The biggest cultural adjustment had been the menu served by Disney resort, unlike its parks in Tokyo and Paris, Disneyland had diluted the American flavor by allowing a single Chinese restaurant, though it faced problems over dining habits. It was believed that American icon misjudged the willingness of Asian customers by the adoption of fast food life style of US.

Due to the globalization policy, the ocean park was put under acute competition with   reputed Disneyland in Hong Kong. Undoubtedly, it was considered to be the main problem faced by most of the companies in this globalization era. Analyst opined felt that Ocean Park took a riskier approach by the renovation of entire attraction with the investment of HK $5.55 billion (US $ 711 million) that became faded also considered to be outdated.

Annexure -1
Total Number of Visitors (Jul ) : 2,067,240

Major Market Areas

Jul  2004

Jul  2005

Growth (%)

All Countries

1,990,705

2,067,240

+4

The Amercias

124,802

134,948

+8

Europe, Africa & the Middle East

105,455

134,423

+28

Australia, N.Z. & S. Pacific

41,384

56,002

+35

North Asia

148,474

150,012

+1

South & Southeast Asia

172,216

196,583

+14

Taiwan

196,330

203,425

+4

Mainland China

1,160,530

1,147,076

-1


Hotel Room Occupancy

 

2004 (%)

2005 (%)

Change (%points)

Jul

92

87

-5

Jan - Jul

86

84

-2


Research statistics,
http://www.partnernet.hktb.com/pnweb/jsp/comm/index.jsp


Research statistics, http://www.partnernet.hktb.com/pnweb/jsp/comm/index.jsp

Annexure -2

Form 10-Q for WALT DISNEY CO 

10 th august 2005, http://biz.yahoo.com/e/050810/dis10-q.html

In millions except per share data

July2, 2005

June 30,2004
$

% change
3 months ended

July 2,2005

June30,2004
$

%Change
9 months ended

REVENUES

7,715                  

7,471

3%

24,210                  

23,209

4%

COST& EXPENSES

6,369

6,375

-

20,516

19,912

3%

Gain on sale of businesses and
restructuring and impairment charges

24

56

nm

-

59

nm

Net interest expense

134

151

11%

364

446

18%

Equity in the income of investees

125

126

1%

363

300

21%

Income before income taxes and minority

           

Interests

1,361

1,015

34%

3,693

3,092

19%

Income taxes

463

365

27%

1,294

1,132

14%

Minority interests

47

46

2%

127

131

3%

Net income

851

604

41%

2,272

1,829

24%

Diluted earnings per share

0.41

0.29

41%

1.09

0.88

24%




August arrivals pass 2 million milestones,29 sep,2004

http://www.partnernet.hktb.com/pnweb/jsp/comm/index.jsp?pageContent=/jsp/rso/rso_news.jsp&charset= en

Annexure -4

Occupancy

July2,2005 *ECR

June 30,2004 *ECR

July2,2005, *WCR

June 30,2004
*WCR

Available room nights

88%

    83%

96%

88%

Per room guest
(in 1000`s)

2,193

    2,171

202

202

Spending($)

209

      209

276

265


* ECR East coast resorts
* WCR West coast resorts

Form 10-Q for WALT DISNEY CO/, 10 the august 2005, http://biz.yahoo.com/e/050810/dis10-q.html

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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13.  Opciti...
14. Ibids.
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18. Ibids.
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23. The Seoul times, sep20,2005, http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=2041
24.  Ibids.
25.  Ibids..
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29. A translation form  "Apple daily", http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20050914_2.htm
30. Opciti.
31. HK park gears up to take on Disneyland, Mar 30, 2005, http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/worldbiz/archives/2005/03/30/2003248408
 


Mohankumar D
Research Associate
ICFAI Business School Research Center
Chennai
E- mail:
mohanvsi@yahoo.co.in / mhnkmrdeva@yahoo.com
 

Source: E-mail February 10, 2006

   

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