The Walt Disney is one of the world’s leading companies in the entertaining industry. The corporation has planned to build a large American history theme park. They wanted to place Disney’s America Park near the place of the first big conflict of the civil war, known as the First Battle of Bull Run. The purpose of the project was to represent the American history. However, the proposal was canceled in 1994. Thus, misinformation destroyed a good brand image and caused significant business problems for the company.
The location of the historical theme park was the major problem for the Disney’s management. They have chosen the Virginia state for its important historical meaning. There are houses of the first four American presidents and numerous honorable places, such as battlefields during the civil war. In addition, the heavy traffic caused by the park raised concern. For examples, visitors from many cities and countries would have arrived in the city and overcrowded the territory. Thus, the company should have addressed the problem in order to provide normal living conditions for the residents. Moreover, the traffic might have increased the air pollution. The combination of the factors brought criticism to the project. The board of directors was trying to save the project through the conferences and speeches about the purpose of the park. Unfortunately, the attempts were interpreted wrongly. For example, during one of the meetings, Bob Weis, vice president of Walt Disney, said: «…We want to make you feel what it was like to be a slave…» (Perez-Pena, 1994). It was a joke, but people did not understand it, and started criticizing the proposal even more. In fact, Weis was talking about the experience in the park, but not the entire city.
Secondly, people claimed that the project would destroy or damage the historical places. Peter S. Rummell, the president of Disney Design and Development Company, said that the management understood the possible threats and would address them in a sensitive manner. In addition, Eisner tried to promote the idea and convince people in the usefulness of the project. He was presenting different stories, which were interpreted in a controversial manner. For example, when he was attending history class, he did not understand it and was bored about this subject. Thus, the mission of a park was to help children to learn American history in a creative way. Moreover, the management planned to show many historical events in reality. Unfortunately, the public opposition accused them of being disrespectful to the country. Disney attempted to protect the idea through a meeting with many historians to explain their point of view and discuss polemical moments (McDonough, 2013).
On the other hand, the Disney provided a promise of the number of new jobs for people. The Disney campaign had the aim to increase awareness of the possibility for economic development. For example, on the conference, the management announced about 19,000 well-paid positions; but in reality there would be around 6,000 openings mostly with low salary. Thus, a bad impact on its reputation took place. Despite the many issues, there were groups of people, who supported the company and their idea (Perez-Pena, 1994).
To sum up, the theme park project could not be successful with the aggressive opposition. On the other hand, the company had strong faith in the project and had been dealing with the public. The opposing attitude was unexpected by the management, because of the success of Disney Company and its association with childhood and celebration. The company provided public relations campaign and tried to convince opposition, but failed. The main problem of the corporation was misunderstood information that had a negative impact on its reputation. Perhaps, Eisner should have analyzed the project capitally and evaluate all possible threats and opportunities, especially when aiming at the historical places.
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