Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Communication and Information Studies



First Advisor

Dr. Shari Veil


This study examines the connection between organizational crisis communication and sensemaking. In particular, the research focuses on messages of instructing, adjusting and reputation management and the use of social media in distributing these messages through and by the Tokyo Disney Resort during the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis that hit Japan in 2011. Case study methods are used to analyze news coverage, Twitter and YouTube videos, informed by personal interviews and documentation related to the crisis and the Tokyo Disney Resort. The analysis found that the Tokyo Disney Resort provided messages of instructing, adjusting and reputation management in order to effectively foster the sensemaking process, which was corroborated by personal communication with cast members. Messages of instruction were delivered regularly through a park-wide speaker system and cast members who also provided instruction to minimize harm. Adjusting information was evident in effectively taking care of guests’ physical and psychological needs through provision of food, water, blankets, etc. and by keeping them updated about the status of the outside world. Finally, messages of reputation management were apparent in the Resort’s willingness to put people above profit by sacrificing food, products and money to help victims of the disaster.