Disneyland in Hongkong a Multinational Term Paper

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Compliance with Government Regulations and Current Issues - Initially, this joint venture between the Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong government appeared successful as evidenced by the huge crowd it attracted since its opening on September 12, 2005 (Great Holidays and Hotels 2004, Giezl 2005). The very next day, Park chairman George Mitchell arranged for the opening of a second park in the adjacent lot. The government required an attendance of approximately 10 million visitors a year to approve land reclamation and the construction of a second park. The first and existing Park proved too small for the drones, which flowed into the Park, especially during the Lunar New Year holiday week, so that the gates had to be closed. Many of these visitors came all the way to Hong Kong to see the Park had to climb the fence and walls to get in. They also complained that their advanced ticket sale, which said admission was allowed anytime in a six-month period, was not honored because the Park was too crowded. It seemed that the Park could hold only 30,000 guests. Hong Kong legislators considered Hong Kong Disney's refusal to accept those tickets for entry constituted a breach of contract. They also felt that chaotic scenes at the theme park as harmful to Hong Kong's reputation as a tourist paradise. Disney executives said they understood the disappointment of ticket holders who were refused entry, but the refusal was grounded on the company's concern for guests' safety. The government, then, urged the company to improve its ticketing mechanisms (Great Holidays and Hotels).

Despite loud complaints of overcrowding and long queues of visitors to its Park, Disneyland Hong Kong announced that it would not cut its maximum daily capacity of 30,000 (Shenzhen 2005). Critics urged the company to reduce the Park's maximum daily capacity, according to the newspapers. Company spokesperson, Esther Wong, however, said that the company was confident it could manage peak-day attendance in the future and that it had established marketing and sales strategies to do so throughout the year. The company was even considering extending its opening hours and adding more shows at the Park. The Park was expected to draw 5.6 million people right in its first year of operation and that about a third of them to be mainland Chinese tourists. But mainland travel agents complained that ticket sales were as bad as the long queues and the hotel rates were expensive. The Morning Post reported that these factors were driving mainland tourists away. A survey conducted by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong stated that around 3 out of 10 visitors interviewed said they would not go back there (Shenzhen Daily).

This early, the Disneyland in Hong Kong is ridden with disputes and difficulties (Great Holidays and Hotels 2004). A Singaporean woman sued the company for the death of her mother who was made to wait three hours for an ambulance at the Park. The mother was pronounced dead of congested arteries upon arrival at the hospital. The daughter claimed that Disney did not offer first aid when her mother fell ill and made to wait for half an hour for a bus to the Hong Kong Disneyland hotel. For its part, Disney said that is staff handled the situation in the most appropriate manner possible an given immediate attention (Great Holidays and Hotels). This was just the latest of Hong Kong Disneyland's troubles with its public and legal image.

In keeping with its local culture motif, the Company originally planned to serve shark fin soup, which is a traditional Chinese delicacy, at wedding banquets (Wikipedia 2006). Animal rights groups right away protested in June 2005 that the practice would threaten and extinguish the shark population in global waters and that the methods often used in cutting the fin and disposing the live sharks back into the water would be cruel. Disney initially removed shark's fin soups from its menu, but said that they would still offer the soup to those who wanted it at their wedding. It also said that its staff would distribute leaflets about shark conservation to discourage the practice. But with constant pressure from environmental groups and school children and out of concern for its corporate image, Disney finally announced on June 24, 2005 that it would not serve shark fin soup at all. And this was not all (Wikipedia).

The media and local watchdog groups named other concerns and violations committed by the company (Wikipedia 2006). Disney employees had been neglectful in enforcing non-smoking policies on visitors out of fear of offending and driving them out. Sanitation was also an issue, such as some visitors' urinating on flowerbeds and even near food facilities. Local newspapers carried photos of these unruly behavior in their photo essays for days. Other visitors said that Disney employees did nothing to enforce any kind of civic responsibility at their Park. Members of the cast of the Park attractions were themselves paid quite low wages. It was also reported that fish around Ma Wan died as a result of land reclamation, which had exacted concrete damage on the environment. Other reports reflected that ancient commercial vessels and bones on the sea floor got buried under land fill. Critics observed that the Park had refused to use the same and more ecologically sound launching technology for fireworks developed and used at the original Disneyland in the United States. This is of particular concern to surrounding residential are of Discovery Bay. Several reports of food poising were received by the health department, which came to inspect the Park, indicating that even a large and profitable MNC like Hong Kong Disneyland was not above the law (Wikipedia). In the face of these and other crises (BBC News 2006, Bowring and Yung 2005), the management of Disneyland of Hong Kong planned to expand the Park and introduce more attractions to existing ones. Autopia would be added to Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland this year and Pirates of the Caribbean would be constructed in 2009 or 2010 (Great Holidays and Hotels). In a public occasion, Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng responded positively to the building of an excellent Disneyland and that all preparations were then underway (Zhi Ping, ed 2004). He also said that the project was then only waiting for the approval of the central government. He said this not long after Disney President and CEO Robert Iger admitted to the negotiations between his company and the Shanghai Municipal Government and that the construction of a theme park was then already ongoing. Sources revealed that Disney's Shanghai would occupy 6 square kilometer or 4.7 miles greater than the present size of Hong Kong Disneyland. Negotiators for Disney were said to have already met with Shanghai-based developer Lujiazui Group to discuss schedules and cooperation on the venture. Reports said that the two sides had reached initial agreements to jointly register a company in Shanghai at a proportion of 51% for the U.S. company and 49% for Shanghai. The U.S. side would consist of brand, technology and capital, while the Shanghai side would supply land. The agreed site would be the resort park in a town 5-kilometer from the Shanghai International Airport in Pudong area. When completed, the Shanghai Park would be the sixth Disneyland in the world and the fourth outside the U.S. (Zhi Ping).

Conclusion and Recommendations - Shanghai is not the only Chinese city applying for the installation of a Disneyland resort on the available land (Zhi Ping, ed 2004). There are mixed reactions to the possible and eventual rise of such an attraction. A positive response was that a huge commercial project like it would provide large profits for the local economy and significantly enhance the city's attractiveness to tourists. A negative response was that Disneyland was a wasteful, luxurious consumption of resources that would violate China's average living standards. The Chinese are mostly poor people and critics believed that the government should focus its financial resources on improving their living standards rather than in wallowing in a waste of time and other resources. The new Park's proximity to Hong Kong Disneyland would make the investment repetitive and unnecessary. Others maintained that another Disneyland should be built, not in Shanghai, but in an economically backward region to encourage local people, who would otherwise have no chance to visit such a Park. The rest thought that such a Park would constitute a "cultural invasion" by American cultural and entertainment concepts against Chinese culture. However, others saw the Disneyland's challenge as a form of transnational and trans-regional cultural communication as a welcomed and irreversible trend in the world (Zhi Ping).

Disneyland could satisfy the demands of people of the city and from surrounding region for entertainment and serve to upgrade the city service industry (Zhi Ping 2004). A Disneyland and the improvement of people's living standards are not necessarily contradicting. While the government is obligated to narrow down the gap between the rich and the…[continue]

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