A Theme Park University reader recently stated they heard the Walt Disney Company didn’t own all of their theme parks outside of the United States and wanted confirmation on if it was true. For starters, Disney owns 100% of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The rest is complicated, so let’s start in France.
When Euro Disneyland (now known as Disneyland Paris) was being financed, they set up what is known in France as an SCA or “societe en commandite par actions.” This basically allows Disney to operate the park under a totally separate umbrella that Disney is invested in, but doesn’t completely own. This means it is a publicly-traded company where Disney owns shares. Prior to 2015, Disney owned about 40% of the separate Disneyland Paris company, but thanks to an injection of over €1 billion, Disney has 82% of that company and a plan to turn the resort around.
Tokyo Disneyland is the only Disney resort in the world not owned by the Mouse at all. Instead, the Oriental Land Company owns all of the Tokyo Disneyland Resort and pays Disney a licensing fee for ticket sales, merchandise and food. At the time Tokyo Disneyland was being built, so was EPCOT Center. Disney was interested in gaining extra revenue while spending none of their own money and this could do just the trick. A big reason why this resort is known as the best of the Disney parks internationally is because Oriental Land Company pulls the trigger on new attractions, maintenance and even marketing. They must then contract Disney to create those new offerings, which is another way Disney creates revenue for themselves.
Hong Kong Disneyland is a different beast entirely. Another separate company known as Hong Kong International Theme Parks, which is currently 48% owned by Disney and 52% government owned. That’s right, the actual Hong Kong government owns the majority share of Hong Kong Disneyland. In order to bring in more tourists (and because of real estate laws), this was the best course of action to get the park up and running.
Finally, Shanghai Disneyland is a joint venture where Disney will own 43% and the remaining 57% is represented by the Shanghai Shendi Group. Much like Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Shendi consists of three separate subsidiaries and all are state-owned: Shanghai Lujiazui (Group) Co., Ltd., Shanghai Radio, Film and Television Development Co., Ltd., and Jinjiang International Group Holding Company.
Now all of these have long and tedious backstories as to why the ownership is split the way it is. Some are due to government regulations, while others are for tax purposes and others are for different reasons entirely. We can explore those topics on a future date, but for now, I figured I’d give an overview of how it all breaks down.
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