Saturday, September 24, 2011
I've just read on another web site - thanks to the Google News alert - that Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo announced last Thursday the company's plan to expand into India. It reminded me instantly an article i've posted two years ago in which i was saying that the WDC was seriously "thinking" about an expansion in India.
What is not clear yet is if Disney is interested by India only to introduce the company through the usual steps, a Disney Channel, etc, or if Jay Rasulo was talking about creating a Disney theme park in India. My guess is that he was talking about that, but that's only my feeling... Even if that sounds like a good news for my readers from India i'm sorry to say that that will probably have to wait at least ten years before an India Disneyland opens somewhere in the country whether it will be in Bombay or Delhi - probably Bombay.
Anyway, my thoughts in this previous 2009 article are still relevant and here they are again:
"Is Disney planning to build theme parks in other countries than China? Will we see one day a Disney park in India? As i was saying in this article posted two years ago: "If the question is "Is the Walt Disney Company planning to build a theme park in India?", the answer is "no". But if the question was "Are they thinking about India for a future Disney theme park?", then the answer is "yes, definitely, they're thinking about it".
Now, don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean that New Delhi or Bombay will have a Magic Kingdom anytime soon. The WDC is just seriously "thinking" about it. Strictly on a "business" point of view, it's perfectly understandable. After all, more than one billion people are living in India and this great country is in full economic development. And considering that Disney don't have in mind to open a theme park in India before ten years, in the meantime India could be economically ready for a success of this future park.
But for me, the question is not "Are they going to build a MK in India or not" but more: "Is it really a good idea?". Let me tell you more about what i have in mind. When Disney decided some years ago to build HKDL they probably thought that the park would be an instant success. After all, Japanese are in love with Disneyland, so why not the Chinese? Then the park opened and the cultural shock arrived.
In France families may accept that children miss a day at school so they can go at DLP on week days to avoid the week-end crowds. But for Chinese it's almost unthinkable. One of the most important thing for Chinese people is the "security of the future". Which means that school success of their children is priority number one. Chinese and Japanese have totally different mental structures, that's where Disney did the mistake for HK. Now, why am I talking about all that? Simply because of the cultural differences. The major mistake that almost EVERY U.S big corporation is always doing is to ignore the cultural differences between the U.S and other countries. And we can't even blame them, because it's not their fault. The "mind" of a corporation is made in such way that they simply can't understand that. I suppose that they would probably tell you that they're not enough stupid to don't see the differences between the U.S and India, the "caste" problems, and so on... and that's right. They DO see that. What they DON'T see is another plan, more subtle. If we take, as i do today, the example of India what will be difficult for them to understand is the "spirit" of India.
As Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo once said "India is the heart of the Earth". No other country in the world was - and still is - more spiritual than India. The inevitable - and perfectly welcome - economic development is changing this, but i think we must give some time to the country before landing with a pure occidental concept like Disneyland. In a country which have literally a pantheon of gods, Disneyland mythologies will be nothing. I agree that Indian people can be enough ludic to enjoy Disneyland but i'm not sure that DL mythologies have a lot of resonances in India's collective subconscious.
I have the greater respect for India civilisation, i think India's original vision of the world is stunning and i think that we probably have more to learn from them than they have from us. India have some of the greatest minds, artists and scientists in the world. I don't like too much the "caste" system, an heritage from medieval times, but i LOVE India. And i think that the WDC should understand the part of India which is "another planet" for us. And wait quite a while before building a Disney theme park over there. For the sake of India".
Picture: copyright Disney