Having started June in London taking part in one family firm anniversary we finished the month in Paris enjoying the 20th anniversary celebrations of another well-known family brand. Of course Disney has long succumbed to the corporate multi-million executive share option packages that are de rigueur for large organisations nowadays, but it still likes to invoke the spirit of its founder and wheel out the odd family member on a frequent basis whenever possible.
Spending time at Disneyland is often an opportunity to remove oneself totally from the real world. Such news of what was happening outside of the park and its environs as was available came from CNN and BBC World News TV which, as most people know, are limited and repetitive. It was nigh on impossible to find out what was happening at Wimbledon, for example, unless you attempted to test the limits of your roaming data allowance or avail yourself of the rip off hotel wi-fi.
Having said all that, it was difficult to ignore one major event taking place in Kiev that weekend, the final of the European Football Championships between Spain and Italy. The place was awash with Spanish football shirts and flags and the joy that accompanied their emphatic victory was infectious. In contrast, the Italian presence was much more muted, possibly due to a sober assessment of the country’s economic situation, or more likely to the fact that their expectations of the team were so low that nobody thought to pack any shirts and flags.
Queuing is an essential part of the Disney experience. The time spent in queues can sometimes be frustrating (come on Doggwiler remember it is the value added not time spent that matters), but you can only admire the methods used to disguise their length and duration. It is also interesting to observe how our continental cousins, who in the past may not have always been as respectful of queuing etiquette as the British have, dutifully fall into line.
There are probably loads of business school courses dedicated to the study of Disney logistics, how they manage to move people and goods, and how they aim to maximise income per head. Social anthropologists would also have a field day at Disney.
Stripped of national languages and customs it was uncanny how alike family groups were. Dad would be striding purposefully ahead towards the next attraction, head invariably adorned with a Disney themed hat or similar, while Mum brought up the rear, shepherding any stray children along. She of course sensibly eschewed any such headgear, although a subtle Minnie Mouse bow headset was occasionally permitted.
Indeed said anthropologists will be probably be sat there at their viewing screens screaming “Come on Euro guys, underneath all that language and culture stuff you’re all the same, why can’t you make this damn single currency work?”
And that of course remains the shadow over all of our business activities at present. Why can’t they, or more pertinently won’t they, solve these Eurozone problems? The sight of Europeans from all nations joined as one in Paris enjoying a shared experience is always one of the pleasures of Disneyland Paris. Sadly for the economic health of Europe, although they may still use it for payment purposes, the currency that binds them together is not the Euro, but the vision of an American born at the turn of the last century.