Walt Disney once noted: “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse”. (Disney Dreamer, 1998). Walt Disney’s original core competence was cartoons and animated movies. By combining Imagineering with engineering Disney’s company reached unparalleled success with the creation of the first full length animated movie.
This success led to new ideas and one of them was to open a park, a different kind of park. In Disneyland Walt used new technology to bring his characters to life. He called them “Animatronics”. (Magical Kingdoms, July 2008) Together with unique storytelling and high quality of service Walt Disney created a magical environment for his guests which none of the competitors could quite duplicate. It became Walt Disney’s core competency. Disney once said: “Anything that has the Disney name to it is something we feel responsible for.” (Disney Dreamer, 1998)
This competency is driven by superior Disney products and most of all by cast members and their renowned guest service. It’s always been a challenge to keep up with high expectations of the guests. To continue to improve its business Disney has set up new cast member standards in the form of the Basics (Meeting the new standards, December 2007). The new standards expect cast members to create and reinforce “magical” experience for the guests by being approachable, engaging, and willing to go above and beyond.
As the company developed, many new lines of businesses have been added such as retail, media, and sports. The danger has been to overextend and lose track of what the company does best. In order to stay competitive the company had to realign and shifted attention from retail to those which are the cornerstone of the company – intellectual property.
To reinforce its animation business Disney purchased Pixar in 2006. In the acquisition statement it read: “Animation is the foundation upon which the Company was built and for years was a core competency. However, in recent years Disney placed less emphasis on animation and, as such; the Company was not at the forefront of the digital revolution and did not produce many animation movie hits. With Pixar, Disney is now further on the technology curve and can exploit some synergies in marketing, production, and distribution.” (Walt Disney Company release, January 2006). In 2009 Disney purchased another company, Marvel. This move further enhances Disney’s competitiveness and extended the collection of its characters. (CNN, August 2009).
The special strength of the company is diversification. In addition to four parks in the US Disney currently has a park in Europe, plus two parks and one more on the way in Asia. Disney’s largest sales revenue is from media sold outside the US. Disney has its own cruise line with regular operation of two boats and is adding two more in January of 2011. (Cruise Talk, June 2010) Many regular Disney guests own part of the Walt Disney World resort through “Disney Vacation Club”, the company’s timeshare program. Disney’s tour operation business “Adventures by Disney” offers guests special tours around the world. (Adventures by Disney, n.d.)
Everything the company does carries the special “Disney touch” – a seal of quality and outstanding service. Though the company has some challenges with the economic downturn, it continues to grow leaning heavily on what the company does best – providing “magical” experiences to guests and consumers.
Disney Dreamer (1998), Walt Disney Quotes.
Retrieved from: http://www.disneydreamer.com/walt/quotes.htm
Josh Buchanan, Matthew Covarrubias, James Gills, T.J Lovejoy, Craig Wuollet, Meeting the new Standards (December, 2007), Executive Summary, P. 3 Retrieved from: http://www.slideshare.net/jamesrg6/disneypaperfinal
Walt Disney Company release (January, 2006) Comments on Acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios. Retrieved from: http://www.dbrs.com/research/206997/walt-disney-company-the/comments-on-acquisition-of-pixar-animation-studios.html
David Goldman (August, 2009), CNN, Disney to buy Marvel for $4 billion
Retrieved from: http://money.cnn.com/2009/08/31/news/companies/disney_marvel/index.htm
The History of Disney’s Animatronics (July, 2008), Disney Blog at Magical Kingdoms Retrieved from: http://www.magicalkingdoms.com/blog/2008/07/08/the-history-of-disneys-audio-animatronics/
Mr. Papa (June, 2010) Cruise Talk Retrieved from: http://cruisetalk.org/2010/06/disney-cruise-line-adds-final-building-block-to-new-cruise-ship-disney-dream.html Adventures by Disney, Retrieved from: http://abd.disney.go.com/abd/en_US/index?name=HomePage