The company that brought Mickey and Minnie Mouse into the public eye has been entertaining families for 90 years. Although animation was the Walt Disney Company’s original focus, its entertainment empire now spans four main business groups: studio entertainment (including movies, stage shows, and recorded music), parks and resorts (such as Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line), consumer products (toys, books, and other merchandise), and media (including broadcast television, cable television, and online media). Disney has its headquarters in Burbank, California, but its operations are spread around the world, with $41 billion in annual revenues and a workforce of 156,000 employees. Over the years, Disney has acquired other businesses and started new businesses to further strengthen its competitive position and its profits. It owns Pixar, the movie studio responsible for Toy Story and many other animated films, and it established Touchstone Pictures to produce and distribute movies for wider audiences. It acquired the ABC television networks and the ESPN sports channels as part of its drive for global growth in multiple media. To expand into interactive media for children, Disney bought the popular Club Penguin site and began creating online and video games, many featuring its popular movie and television characters. Founder Walt Disney didn’t invent the theme park, but he did transform the industry with the 1955 opening of Disneyland in California. The magic continued with the 1971 opening of Disney World in Florida. Both theme parks were drawing crowds from every continent when the company opened Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, at the height of the Japanese economic boom. Later, it worked with international partners to create Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. Shanghai Disney Resort will be the next to open, the result of a $3.7 billion joint business venture with a Chinese company. In all, more than 120 million people visit Disney theme parks and resorts over the course of one year. Disney sees great growth potential in China. Thanks to economic and political changes, Chinese consumers have more disposable income than ever before and more opportunities to exercise their higher buying power. Box-office receipts from Chinese movie theaters are growing at double-digit rates, and many of Disney’s Hollywood blockbusters have also been big hits in China. At the same time, competition to get movies into Chinese theaters is enormous, because the government limits the number of foreign movies that can be distributed nationwide. With an eye toward the future, Disney worked with a local partner to co-produce Iron Man 3 with a Chinese plot twist. It has also been lending its movie-making expertise to help develop the Chinese animation industry. All these years of serving customers with a smile have given Disney considerable insight into how to meet the needs of people of all ages. The company set up the Disney Institute in 1986 to teach businesses, schools, hospitals, and other organizations how to deliver good customer service with the famous Disney touch. Its experts have trained National Football League staff members in preparation for Super Bowl events and given Chevrolet dealer employees tips about working with car buyers. When Florida Hospital asked for help in improving patient satisfaction, Disney experts conducted studies and recommended a number of steps, such as having a friendly greeter to put young patients at ease and replacing the glare of fluorescent bulbs with recessed lighting. These and other changes helped push the hospital’s patient satisfaction scores into the top 10 percent across America. The Disney Institute’s revenues have doubled over the past few years and are yet another reason for the company’s profit momentum.20 Questions 1. How is the Walt Disney Company combining human, informational, material, and financial resources for business success? 2. What is Disney’s competitive situation, and what are the implications for its future expansion and profitability? 3. Which of the factors in the business environment seem to be exerting the most influence on Disney’s ability to grow? Explain.
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