“The dawn of the theme park industry rose from one man's dream as he walked Anaheim orange groves more than 50 years ago, and today, the sun never sets on Disney's global theme park landscape,” said Eisner (2005) – Disney Chief Executive . After the building of grand Disney theme park in America, France and Japan, Eisner with his ambition to make Disney a global Disney park was selected Hong Kong as the ideal destination for the fifth Disneyland. Unfortunately, since this large scale launching, the project was not successful in reaching its target customer. This essay is to examine the park‘s plan and give out some recommendations during the launching.
In term of tourism industry, Hong Kong has steadily increasing the number of visitor annually. However, in the period of 1997 - 1998, due to the serious damage from Asian financial crisis and SARS disease, the Hong Kong tourism industry is hit by a significant drop of 14.7 percent( 1997) and an dramatically increase in unemployment rate ( Kwang W. 2003). Hence, the Hong Kong government cooperated with Disneyland Company to build a Disneyland theme park in order to revitalize the domestic tourism industry and economy. During the prelaunch period, Hong Kong Disneyland has been trying to boost the brand name as well as Disney characters close to the Hong Kong‘s public, where people are not familiar much with the Disney stories. It has started cooperating with the largest broadcasting network in Hong Kong - TVB channel to begin a series of Disney productions. This is the smart communication strategy because TVB is the channel, which is considered to be “leader Cantonese language drama” and favored by audiences from Taiwan, Singapore, Japan etc (Osborne M. 2009). Therefore, by using this traditional medium, the company can easily achieve its highest effectiveness of noticing public about the opening of the international park. Another good point in the plan is the way Disney Company avoids to have cultural clash, which happened in France (1992) due to its mistake in locating the park and penetrating the local culture. After this cultural issue, Hong Kong Disney have learnt about the important of being sensitive to the cultural local and try to surmount by incorporate elements of Chinese culture into the theme park. In detail, they arrange the park with ancient Chinese view and combine the park’s menu with Western, Chinese and Asian cuisines. Moreover, the Hong Kong people love to apply fengshui into their daily life. Hence, the company want to show their concern in local community respect by enlist fengshui experts to help the park become “the most happiest place on Earth,” said Eisner (2005), for example, the front gate is shifted by 12 degree and cash registers are “close to corners or along walls, where such placement is believed to increase prosperity”, said Holson( 2005). However, what Disney Company endeavored to present the company image in the localized park’s structure and media relations are not strong enough to predominantly locate in local customer‘s mind and potential visitors in the mainland China. In addition, the Disney Company has to face with many serious issues during the launching yet an absolute solution in resolving them.
The very first serious issue is about environmental affairs. Nightly fireworks in Hong Kong Disneyland eliminates smoke and be trapped in the city, where is the most densely populated locations in the world. In addition, the numerous raise of skyscraper and the lack of open space damage the ventilation of air inside the country. Therefore, air pollution issue is sharply critiqued by many local communities yet fails to address by both government and the Hong Kong Disneyland. The park has also received complaints from fisherman because of its pollution toward the sea.
To media relation, Hong Kong Disneyland should make use of the most favorite medium in the country to promote for itself. According to Hong Kong trade development council (1999), Hong Kong is the world’s fourth - largest printing center and the rate of reading prints production for example newspaper is very high. Moreover, almost the local people work very hard and always in busy mood, they prefer to use public transportation as the best way to move. Hence, Hong Kong Disneyland needs to emerge itself through activities or creative advertisement on prints and out of home media regularly. It can be an advertising brief on posters that are located in bus and train or lively appear on bill boards.
Although Hong Kong Disneyland did promoted its image to the world especially the mainland China, the park needs to guarantee that those sources of information can actual reach its potential customer. Let take China‘s censorship on media for a visible example, according to the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (2007) , Communist Party of China (CPC) has always “controlled all the traditional news media (print media, radio and TV)” and strictly banned the internet medium, independent news and information with foreign participation. Therefore, the Disney Company needs to consider and examine carefully about the feasibility of right information and medium toward every different countries or customers.
To environmental issue, the company should send newsletter to local communities, who live around the Disney project and guarantee them with benefit packages. Local people contribute such an important role in the success of the park because they share similar region with us. It means that the Hong Kong Disneyland‘s activities do affect on their livings even in directly or indirectly way. In addition, respecting the environment contributes much on the way Hong Kong Disneyland presents themselves as a good business. In the case study, the park does wrong thing primarily in the environmental issue to local people without any solutions. This is a serious fail because they are the first community that create the negative wave of public opinion and damage the Disney Park’s image. Therefore, the company needs to treat nicely and precisely to these important “neighbors”. To local men, who directly receive negative effect from the park, the Disney Company should pay them compensation for medical and material damage. To other local communities, the company should commit to offer them jobs, international training programs, minimize the waste and greenhouse emission. Besides, the Disney park should organize programs linked to environmental topic such as green training course for employees , increase quantity of classified garbage and propagate visitors to apply 3R principle ( Reduce, reuse, recycle) etc. All of these green strategies should be brought to customers through media. The park should hold a press conference and invite local authorities, journalists and representatives from broadcast channels to bring customers image of a green Hong Kong Disneyland.
In general, the Hong Kong Disneyland seems to improve slower and slower due to the inefficient management of both Hong Kong government and the Disney Company. All it needs is to be more active in promote itself not only in domestic but international markets. In detail, the Disney Park would take an inward look to the mainland China because of its vast potential. In order to be surviving in the future, Hong Kong Disneyland must try harder in the upgraded project, expansive decision and communication strategies before the great launching of the Shanghai Disneyland.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders 2007, “China: Journey to the heart of Internet censorship”, viewed 8 April 2010, < http://www.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/Voyage_au_coeur_de_la_censure_GB.pdf>.
“Disney Parks Worldwide To Celebrate Original Park's 50th”, viewed 9 April 2010,< http://www.ultimaterollercoaster.com/news/stories/20050104_01.shtml>
Holson, ML 2005, “The Feng Shui Kingdom”, viewed 7 April 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/25/business/worldbusiness/25disney.html
Kwang, W 2003, “An Analysis of Agenda-Setting:The Case of Hong Kong's Disneyland Project”, viewed 9 April 2010, < http://sunzi.lib.hku.hk/hkuto/view/B31967395/ft.pdf>.
Li, KW 2006, “ The Hong Kong economy: recovery and restructuring”, McGraw-Hill Education, Singapore, pp.9-357.
Osborne, Z 2009, “Understanding the Chinese market in Asia”, viewed 8 April 2010, < http://www.bcww.net/event/%5BBCWW2009%20GMF%5DT2-2.Magz%20OSBORNE.pdf>.
Thai Thi Anh Thy