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  1. #1

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    California Adventure market strategies

    Hi,
    I'm a senior at the University of Ottawa in canada and for the marketing strategy class I am taking this semester, I am involved in a group assignment analyzing Disney's California Adventure theme park. We are looking at, from a strategic marketing perspective, what went wrong that caused the park to have so much difficulty at first and what Disney (or the park itself) is currently doing to get the park to become successful now.
    In particular I was wondering if any of you could shed some light on the strategic product marketing decisions made for California Adventure that resulted in so much difficulty for the park.
    I have already taken a look through wikipedia but I am hoping that a Disney business analyst will read my post here and offer some professional insight for me.
    Thanks a million for your help, much appreciated!!

    Mike

  2. #2

    • Darkbeer
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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Start with reading this thread, and then ask some questions....

    http://www.micechat.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9078
    Check out my Theme Park Photos at http://darkbeer.smugmug.com

  3. #3

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    I don't think the marketing strategies caused the difficulty for this park.

    There were some statements to the effect that Disneyland's attendance might drop, since it's such a great park. In short, the expectations were set quite high for those who didn't know otherwise (via Al on mouseplanet in them old days). I don't know if that's a marketing strategy or not.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Yup, that pretty much says a lot...

    Rereading it, I love the part about imagineering working backward from 7 million visitors a year... That is a kick in the head...
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  5. #5

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment
    I don't think the marketing strategies caused the difficulty for this park.

    There were some statements to the effect that Disneyland's attendance might drop, since it's such a great park. In short, the expectations were set quite high for those who didn't know otherwise (via Al on mouseplanet in them old days). I don't know if that's a marketing strategy or not.
    The Marketing strategy problem where covered quite well I thought...

    I think the key problem is that they initially made the mistake of placing a park of lesser value ("off the shelf"/"if it's good enough for six flags") next to a park with essencially an unlimited value... And then expecting the public to pay a premium, when the market sees DCA as being OVERVALUED in it's price. It is simply not a good enough deal in comparison...

    I think the problem is highlighted by the need of a 2fer to boost off season attendance...
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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    I think the initial Ad campaign was a MAJOR mistake.

    Using the Disney Characters peeking over a hedge talking about DCA, when CA was supposed to be "Hip and Edgy", and not featuring Disney Characters, but their own unique ones.

    It placed expectations about DCA, such as it was for the entire family, and was going to offer Disney Characters.
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  7. #7

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkbeer
    I think the initial Ad campaign was a MAJOR mistake.

    Using the Disney Characters peeking over a hedge talking about DCA, when CA was supposed to be "Hip and Edgy", and not featuring Disney Characters, but their own unique ones.

    It placed expectations about DCA, such as it was for the entire family, and was going to offer Disney Characters.
    Lets do the run down the five P's of Marketing...

    Product: Theme park designed for large attendance with off the shelf attractions ... (Think "FrankenTheme Park") Basically gives one the feeling of not being in crowds at higher capacity

    Price: Premium - Same Price as Disneyland with a standard discount if you stay extra days at the resort.

    Placement: Adjacent to the Disneyland Maingate with a reconfigured Esplandade cutting the cost of having multiple Box Offices. Psychologically making it equal to Disneyland. So essencially the same location as Disneyland.

    Promotion: One Day, One Park Tickets (same price as DL), Park hoppers, AP's... Special promotions which are seasonal (2fer). Occasional planned additional attraction (Musical Production in the Hyperion Theatre...) Promotion is still Disneyland centric...

    Imagination: Built with a California theme, some of which didn't work and was confusing and sends mixed messages (Golden Vine Winery is an example - Pacific Wharf area is simply a food court)... Most attractions where off the shelf from other Disney theme parks... The exception is Soarin'...
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  8. #8

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    I don't think marketing was the problem either. When you can create a great product, it will sell itself. Create a medicore product and try to sell it as a premium product, will always fail. Consumers are smarter than that.

    When Disneyland was created, Walt did a lot to create the expectations that this was going to be the most magical place on earth. To those who went, they agreed, but he did not stop there. He kept on improving the product during those first ten years.

    DCA has had minor attempts to improve it, but mostly they are a few 100's million dollars short of fixing it.
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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by cellarhound
    Lets do the run down the five P's of Marketing...

    Imagination:...
    I think it's spelled, "Pimagination," but the "P" is silent.
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  10. #10

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by sediment
    I think it's spelled, "Pimagination," but the "P" is silent.
    Actually, you are correct... I like to think of it as the imaginary "P" - But it actually is one of the "five P's"...
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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by JiminyCricketFan
    I don't think marketing was the problem either. When you can create a great product, it will sell itself. Create a medicore product and try to sell it as a premium product, will always fail. Consumers are smarter than that.

    When Disneyland was created, Walt did a lot to create the expectations that this was going to be the most magical place on earth. To those who went, they agreed, but he did not stop there. He kept on improving the product during those first ten years.

    DCA has had minor attempts to improve it, but mostly they are a few 100's million dollars short of fixing it.
    That is why the five P's always starts with "Product..." Every business should start with "Product"...

    DCA had a failed "Product" from the start... (ie they designed the product after they put together the rest of the marketing plan... No Marketing Plan would EVER start that way...)
    Last edited by cellarhound; 02-08-2006 at 12:07 PM.
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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    Quote Originally Posted by cellarhound
    Actually, you are correct... I like to think of it as the imaginary "P" - But it actually is one of the "five P's"...
    But we're talking DCA here.

    I think the fifth "P" should be "Prevarication."

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  13. #13

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    AWESOME. Thanks so much guys!! I really appreciate it.

  14. #14

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    There's an interesting colummn on JHM today (2/24/2006) by Sean Kennelly about Disney trying to grasp different audiences from their core one in movies in the late 90's.
    Same could be said for DCA.

    http://www.jimhillmedia.com/article.php?id=1863
    "Here You Leave the World of California Today and Enter the World of, um, er, California Today."

  15. #15

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    Re: California Adventure market strategies

    The way I see it:

    The architects of DCA, under Eisner's edict to "harvest the brand" and in the mode to "rebrand" Disney from a timeless/escapist brand to a more "relevant and compelling" current lifestyle brand, assumed that people who were disinclined towards Disney (like the executives and their wives and families) would come to a new non-traditional Disney park if it were marketed under the familiar brand name, regardless of quality of content.

    Wanting a second gate to increase length of stays in Anaheim made sense, but the executives did not trust the Disneyland brand itself and its meaning for the majority of customers (and felt these things were dated and did not have intrinsic value other than nostalgia). They didn't realize that Disney haters and elitists would not be any more likely to go to a Disney park sans Disney characters and entertainment than they would otherwise. Offerings like Wolfgand Puck and Mondavi aimed for an elite audience that would never be caught dead in such a theme park, particularly a cheap one as DCA turned out to be.

    The MBAs theorizing on how much should be spent felt that the Imagineering traditions of what made a good Disney park were all riduculous unnoticed expenditures that flew in the face of retailing wisdom - - they thought they were creating a retailing space and marketing image first, not creating an entertainment and showmanship and storytelling venue first, with marketing in support of the actual product. The content didn't really matter to them only the perception. (Plus there seemed to be a companywide initiative to reject the Walt aspects of Walt Disney at that time and to go a new way).

    So as to be even more cynical when picking a theme, they looked at the SoCal competition, Magic Mountain, Knott's and Universal - and crafted a park that patched elements of the three together like a camel, rather than create a unique escapist Disney environment. To make matters worse, they bottom-lined the investment and made a boring, cheesy park that paled in the reflection of Disneyland next door.

    The new DCA park didn't serve Disney fans nor Disney haters - - it was for no one in particular, really. The California theme put off locals already in California - and added nothing new to draw tourists either. It was just another generic venue.

    DCA was a cynical product conceived only to enhance a theory and spreadsheet and theoretical return on investment, not a true vision for family entertainment like the original. It rejected everything that had ever worked historically for the company. It was the disaster of letting MBAs and marketers conceive the product rather than just support and sell it. The creatives were shunted aside for business theorists.
    Last edited by merlinjones; 02-24-2006 at 11:18 AM.

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