The Walt Disney Company to Takeover Disneyland Paris?

I’ve found that many people assume that because the theme park as the Disney name in front of it, that it’s owned by The Walt Disney Company. That’s only true for the theme parks based in the United States. At all other parks, Disney is just a minority stakeholder (or in one case, not even that).

  • Hong Kong Disneyland – Disney owns 48% and the gov’t owns 52%
  • Tokyo Disney Resort – Owned by the Oriental Land Company which licenses the right to operate the theme park from Disney.
  • Shanghai Disney Resort – 43% of the resort will be owned by Disney and 57% will be owned by the Shanghai Shendi Group
  • Disneyland Paris Resort – Originally Disney owned 51% of the company, but they they had to sell parts of their ownership to finance a bailout. Now they own 40% and investors and stock holders own the rest.

As you can see Disney uses a variety of methods to finance its global brand expansion. Unfortunately the Disneyland Paris method has never quite panned out. The initial build was burdened by building about twice as many hotels as needed. DLP turned out to have more in common with Disneyland in Anaheim than Walt Disney World in Orlando in terms of guest vacation habits.

It’s been a long journey, which I’m sure will make a fascinating book one day, but the end of the debt problem may be in sight for Disneyland Paris. It’s rescuer? None other than The Walt Disney Company. At least that’s the scoop at Times.com.

Acquiring the entire French company would be the first step in a comprehensive turnaround strategy that would enable Disney to benefit far more substantially from the popular success of the park. Disneyland Paris attracts more than 15 million visitors every year, making it one of Europe’s biggest tourist destinations, but the resort has been so weighed down by debt since it opened in 1992 that the French operating company has been a financial weakling. It has posted net losses in 12 of the 20 years of the resort’s existence, despite two financial restructurings.

The good news is that the resort has been showing signs of life lately, it just needs to get out from under its debt burden and be given a chance to spread its wings a bit. In fact, a third theme park gate could be open at the resort in the next 10-15 years under this plan.

Should Disney invest in making Disneyland Paris profitable? Do you think Disney should have controlling interest in all the theme parks that bear its name?

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2 Responses to The Walt Disney Company to Takeover Disneyland Paris?

  1. Steve says:

    Put me into the category that just assumed that Disney owned all of the parks outright. Interesting.

  2. 1967WEDway says:

    It baffles me to no end as to why Disney would open a theme park without ensuring that they would gain complete ownership and control over it (*cough*money*cough*).
    Something interesting to note is that Disneyland was originally a joint venture upon opening, but that was strictly because Disney didn’t have enough money to open it on its own at the start and they quickly bought full ownership of the park as soon as they possibly could afterwards.
    In the case of Disneyland Paris, if the entertainment giant truly was in need of financial assistance to open the park in the first place, they should have had the sense to not wait 20 years to buy up full ownership. So if this story is true about Disney finally buying out Disneyland Paris (and it better be), then it’s about time.
    In regards to Tokyo Disneyland, at the time it was conceived, Disney was a company that was financially failing and lost for direction. When Disney accepted the OLC’s offer to license an overseas Disneyland, it was most likely a desperate money grab. But how Disney has allowed a foreign company to entirely operate a resort under the Disney name for all these years since then without as much as an offer, I don’t know.
    And Disney’s joint partnerships with China’s government through Hong Kong Disneyland and the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland have also been extremely bothersome, especially considering all of the publicly known creative compromises Disney has had to make in order to appease Chinese politicians (Pirateland, Glacier Bay to name a few). I hate that Disney is continuing to expand their ties with the communist state for financial gain, especially since the Chinese government will continue to insist on holding majority ownership of the resorts, forcing Disney to continue answering to the Chinese government.
    tl;dr Disney is not valuing creative control as much as it should and it forces them to compromise their vision to appease outside stakeholders.

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