Five Reasons Disney Should Buy Disneyland Paris

Time Magazine has circulated a rumor that the Walt Disney Company is considering buying up enough shares of Euro Disney SCA so as to be able to own Disneyland Paris and thus have a larger say in directing its future. Currently the company owns around 40% of its shares. The rest is owned by individual investors, with the exception of Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, who owns 10% of the company.

Here are five reasons why this is a good idea:

1. European Popularity. Disneyland Paris has proven over time that it is a popular destination attraction. For years it has trumpeted the fact that it is the most popular destination in Europe with attendance surpassing the Eiffel Tower. Yes, the British and others still prefer coming to Walt Disney World for their long two week holiday.  But with time (and also the Chunnel), they have become more open to visiting Disneyland Paris for a shorter stay.

2. Local Popularity. The challenge with attendance has been that it has been seasonal–very strong in the summer months and on long weekends. Other parks throughout the world get past that by being more of an attraction to the local area in the off season. The problem was that Disneyland Paris was built so far outside of the city. Not quite so much anymore. Anaheim was really outside of Los Angeles, but Los Angeles grew up around Anaheim. So has the population in Paris. There is so much more growth that has moved in that direction.

3. Generational Popularity. More than a generation has been visiting Disneyland Paris since its doors opened. Now there are adults that grew up on Disneyland Paris and want to take their kids. Moreover, that next generation who grew up at Disneyland Paris is now working at the resort and better understands what a magical place it can be. There is a greater opportunity for a more customer-centric workforce, which also appeals to those who have traditionally had a disdain for French manners.

4.  Disney California Adventure. Disney is quickly proving that fixing an ailing park like Disney California Adventure can be done with the right investment. There is no park that is more ailing than the Walt Disney Studios park in Paris. But if done as well as Disney California Adventure has been done, it might better create a longer stay experience that management has wanted to create for Paris. And that in return would aid its ailing hotel properties.

5. Potential for C’est Magnifique. While the Walt Disney Studios park needs a major makeover, at its foundation, the Disneyland Paris park itself is incredible. The detail and effort in creating this park in the first place is at a level far higher than Disneyland or Walt Disney World. But it still needs some tender loving care. Taking over the resort will allow Disney to put in order a better operation to keep the park better maintained.

Exquisite stained glass windows and tapestries in the castle tell the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Bob Iger says he doesn’t sit up at night worrying about how much money he spends. Then he definitely ought to spend it here. If Iger is comfortable building a multi-billion dollar park in the middle of a rice field where the Disney name is still not completely proven, he should feel great about re-investing in Europe where you already have a strong infrastructure and a ready audience to build upon. You will get your return on investment. Build it right like you did in re-inventing Disney California Adventure, and watch them come.

J. Jeff Kober