Time Travel Question: Should Disney have Stuck to CA and FL?

Fox&Hound

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Before I ask my question, this post is not a critical slam on any country outside of the U.S, but is simply meant as an honest question:

In hindsight, would the Disney corporation have been smarter to stick to Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California and not venture outside of the United States? This means they never would have built Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney, Hong Kong Disneyland, or Shanghai Disney Resort. Everyone knows of the companies troubled past with Disneyland Paris/EuroDisney and now it seems like Disney is facing trouble with its parks in China. I know that without these parks we would not have some of the AMAZING rides and shows that have come into fruition in these parks, and I know money was certainly earned, but how much money was lost in the construction of these parks? Could rides/ideas from these parks made their way to the US if there was nowhere else for them to go? Would the stateside parks be that much more impressive? Or have these parks spurred WDW and DL to greatness and are therefore integral to the company? What are your thoughts?
 

John park hopper

Well-Known Member
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IMO Disney should have stuck with Disneyland and WDW and concentrated keeping these two well maintained, staffed, and regularly bring new attractions on line. Too often companies get to big and overall quality suffers. just my 2 cents
 

M:SpilotISTC12

Well-Known Member
This is a real great question! To be honest the only parks worth checking out outside of America IMO is Tokyo. Seeing photos and videos of Tokyo make me so jealous that we don't have it in the US of A. Paris damaged the company more than helped. There really isn't anything there that is a draw for me. Hong Kong was also a disaster and still kinda is. Shanghai though seems awesome but (not to get political) putting it in mainland China was a geopolitical nightmare. However, you stick that park anywhere else in the world and it might be the most impressive park. I plan on visiting all of these parks someday.
 

Marc Davis Fan

Well-Known Member
It's unclear whether the OP is asking about the characteristics of the parks themselves or the places in which the parks are located, so I will answer both. I have been to every Disney resort except Hong Kong.

Tokyo Disney:
  • The quality of the parks is extraordinary (with DisneySea likely being the most impressive creation in the history of theme parks).
  • The location is excellent: Japan is a politically-stable democracy with millions of citizens who love Disney and theme parks.
Disneyland Paris:
  • The quality of "Parc Disneyland" (Disneyland Park) in Paris is extraordinary. It is by far my favorite "castle park."
  • This is important: the location was good, and the park more-or-less hit attendance predictions from the beginning. However, they overbuilt the hotels by a huge amount, and that was the main tragic error that caused the cascade of problems for Disney parks (and really the entire WTC) ever since. Obviously, WDSP is terrible.
  • So basically, they should have done everything the same, except starting the hotels with only Disneyland Paris Hotel (and maybe one "value" hotel), rather than opening all the additional hotels at the beginning.
Hong Kong Disneyland:
  • As I said, this is the only one I have not visited. From extensive reading about it, and seeing photos/videos: it is arguably the weakest of the "castle parks" (perhaps tied with Shanghai), and was an embarrassing excuse for a Disney park when it opened. If they had given it an adequate budget, it would have been popular and financially successful from the beginning. The demand was there. Now it has a bad reputation.
  • Hong Kong is "owned" by an authoritarian government (China, obviously), which can change rules to disadvantage Disney on a whim. It is always dangerous to open a business in China (or Chinese "territory"). I don't think it was a good idea, for that reason alone.
Shanghai Disney:
  • This is a weird one. The park was given a massive budget, and features several top-quality lands and and a top-tier attraction (lands: Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle; attraction: Pirates). However, it also has major weaknesses, with terrible sightlines, areas that completely lack the "architecture of reassurance" that's key to Disney design, etc. As a result, it does not "feel" like a Disney park.
  • The government of China is authoritarian and can change rules to disadvantage Disney on a whim. It is always dangerous to open a business in China. I don't think it was a good idea, for that reason alone.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
I certainly would have preferred Disney stay home. We would have benefitted greatly and even had Disney developed another entire park in country, it could have been successful. The idea however was all about massive expansion and expectations that there was going to be a massive draw of guests from those areas of the world who would never come here. The economic windfall that would come of it would make it worth the trouble. There were some great things imagineered out of necessity to be unique, money had been made but not at the level hoped for. And IMHO, Disney giving up control to foreign entities for the rights to exist was foolish and may be/ has been hurtful.
 

Chef Mickey

Well-Known Member
Financially, it was the right decision and gives Disney a stronger global brand. I doubt any park consistently loses money, although they don’t break out that detail.

From a business perspective, it’s a resounding yes. Everything else is up for discussion.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
Growing your business in China is a no brainer minus the politics and human rights issues. Many countries especially the USA have set up operations in China.
 

KaliSplash

Well-Known Member
There is no guarantee that Disney would have spent all that $$ on upgrading CA and FL. There is business principal that says if you are not growing you are declining. Mickey looked overseas and saw places that would be likely to visit a "local" park where people were unlikely to travel to US parks. So I can't say it was a bad idea to go overseas. Mickey's popularity in Asia made it an obvious target location. But the reality of the financing and location and control issues for overseas operations have not been all that Mickey might have hoped for. As things progressed, we were probably always headed to a "slice the pie thinner and charge more per slice" which is what we have now.
 

networkpro

Well-Known Member
In the Parks
Yes
Growing your business in China is a no brainer minus the politics and human rights issues. Many countries especially the USA have set up operations in China.

Where, if you've been paying attention, the Chinese government have forced these companies into "sharing" their IP as well as making it very difficult to repatriate anything but finished products. Good luck if you wanted to actually move any profits out of the country. That's why companies are leaving China for other countries as soon as its feasible.
 

J4546

Well-Known Member
ive never been to any parks outside the usa but i really want to go to tokyo dl and disneysea they always have great reviews and the disneysea expansion looks amazing. Disneysea already is regarded as one of the best disney parks and the theming looks amazing...on my computer at least haha

paris DL also looks great and with the MASSIVE disney studios construction/expansion happening now, disney studios paris will be one of the best disney parks in a couple years imo. The huge lake with frozen/star wars land and another yet to be named land, along with new marvel land, cars ride and so much more... having a great disney studios and great disneyland in one spot in paris seems like a good investment long term

China, i dunno. theres a lot of geopolitical stuff in play and it seems like a shaky place to invest in parks but if they work, they work.
 

Lilofan

Well-Known Member
Where, if you've been paying attention, the Chinese government have forced these companies into "sharing" their IP as well as making it very difficult to repatriate anything but finished products. Good luck if you wanted to actually move any profits out of the country. That's why companies are leaving China for other countries as soon as its feasible.
Leaving already or thinking about it? I will believe it when I see it. Disney invested billions in China. They are not leaving.
 

HongKongFooy

Well-Known Member
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. Disney invested billions in China. They are not leaving.
 

PiratesMansion

Well-Known Member
Didn't Hong Kong Disney list City Hall as an attraction early on? Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel!

Yes.

But while HK is guilty of listing many dubious things as attractions, it's also not the only park to list City Hall.

WDW has listed City Hall as an attraction on park maps, to my recollection, dating back to my first ever visit in 1998.

Here it is on the map from my most recent MK visit (2018):
20200719_000217.jpg
 

PiratesMansion

Well-Known Member
A few thoughts pertaining to the general question posed in the thread:
1. We have no proof or guarantee that the US parks would have continued operating, business as usual, without the International Parks. Given that the rest of the company also flamed out and ran into problems during the same period the parks started struggling, it seems fair to me to assume that with Eisner at the helm, the US parks would have suffered eventually anyway.
2. With no international parks, there would be no Tokyo Disney, the park that has best stayed true to what Disney used to be.
3. I have visited all of the internationals and enjoyed all of them. Frankly, many (all?) of them are in better shape than the US parks and have various aspects that are, as of now, better (be it in terms of price, service, etc.). I think that many US fans resent the international parks because, generally speaking, they've gotten better stuff in the near term, but the Asian parks all have agreements in place in which Disney is not responsible for paying all the bills, and I think that, more than anything, has contributed to many of those attractions being a reality.

Paris may have been the catalyst for a lot of what went wrong with late-term Eisner, but given Eisner's way of doing things, I'm certain that at some point the bubble would have burst anyway, and SOMETHING would have caused Eisner to panic and exhibit the same behavior (I seem to recall from Disney War that Eisner's resentment about the failure of Dick Tracy, which he had thought was a sure thing but was outclassed by a film he didn't believe would succeed, Pretty Woman, and towards the success of Katzenberg were already well underway before Paris opened). There simply would have been a different catalyst.
 

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