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The 'Starbucks' effect - The result of mass-market theme park
chains arriving in Europe, and how they failed to capture our
came. They saw. They conquered. And all we did was to roll out the
you fancy a Caramel Macchiato or a Frappuccino Light, you can go about
your life safe in the knowledge that you are probably no further than
walking distance from a Starbucks.
what is the ‘Starbucks Effect’, and more to the point, what has it
got to do with theme parks?
while McDonalds has become synonymous with America’s ad hock society
of convenience, so too have other brands such as Starbucks and Subway.
many bemoan Maccy Dee, Burger King and their ilk, our custom has
fertilized the almost bacterial growth of coffee shops and fast food
restaurants around Europe. Whatever benefits society reaps out of these
establishments, you will notice that quaint coffee shops and restaurants
are being pushed aside, with the culture Europe prides itself being
painted in a shades of stars and stripes.
theme parks are as diverse as the countries they’re in. Efteling has
become somewhat a national institution in the Netherlands, while
Pleasure Beach Blackpool has a distinctive – if kitsch – charm that
personifies the Golden Mile.
Europeans yearn for the day when they can enjoy their little bit of
American theme park culture without having to fly seven hours for the
privilege. Identifying this niche, the Mouse set up shop outside Paris
in 1992, and the Starbucks effect continued with Premier Parks – now
Six Flags – taking over seven parks in the heart of Europe, before
expanding with the opening of Movie World Madrid.
bringing the essence of yank closer didn’t always work to the
Americans’ advantage – not by a long way.
arrival of Disney in Europe showed us one thing – market research is
overrated. Not only was the park built in a country with notorious
resistance to American culture, it had too many hotels, too many shows
and not enough thrill rides.
followed was an uncomfortable period of reinvention. With attendance
well below that projected, the park needed to capture peoples’
imaginations and appeal to the target audience it had so poorly
isn’t to say that Disney are lumbering oafs with no appreciation of
local culture. The poor weather in France was acknowledged with much of
the park undercover, and Haunted Mansion became Phantom Manor, a ride
that works on a much subtler level with an artistic flair not found on
the American counterparts.
is another example. While the American version, Tomorrowland, celebrates
the future, Discoveryland realises Jules Verne’s vision of the future
using a colourful palette of greens and golds in an area which just
oozes quality and neatly sidesteps the easily dated style that the
American parks use. Continues...