|Industry||Amusement parks and resorts|
|Founded||April 12, 1992|
|Key people||Philippe Gas (President)|
|Owner(s)||Euro Disney S.C.A
(The Walt Disney Company)
Disneyland Paris, originally Euro Disney Resort, is an entertainment resort in Marne-la-Vallée, a new town located 32 km (20 mi) east of the centre of Paris and is the most visited attraction in all of France and Europe. It is owned and operated by Euro Disney S.C.A., a publicly traded company in which The Walt Disney Company owns a minority stake. The resort covers 4,800 acres (19 km2) and encompasses two theme parks, several resort hotels, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex, and a golf course, in addition to several additional recreational and entertainment venues. Disneyland Park is the original theme park of the complex, opening with the resort on 12 April 1992. A second theme park, Walt Disney Studios Park opened in 2002.
The resort is the second Disney park to open outside the United States, following Tokyo Disney Resort, and the first to be owned and operated by Disney (through Euro Disney S.C.A.). The resort was designed specifically to follow the model established by Walt Disney World in Florida. Park attendance, hotel occupancy and revenues initially fell below projections, but in July 1995 the company saw its first quarterly profit. However, the resort still struggles to be profitable even to this day because of its large debt.
- 1 History
- 1.1 The Walt Disney Company seeks a location for a European resort
- 1.2 Design and construction
- 1.3 Recruitment/employment
- 1.4 Controversies
- 1.5 Opening day and early years
- 1.6 Financial, attendance and employment struggles
- 1.7 1995 turnaround
- 1.8 2000 onwards
- 1.9 Plans from outside the Walt Disney Company
- 1.10 Name changes
- 2 The complex
- 3 Incidents and Accidents
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The Walt Disney Company seeks a location for a European resort
Following the success of Walt Disney World in Florida, plans to build a similar theme park in Europe emerged in 1972. Upon the leadership of E. Cardon Walker, Tokyo Disneyland opened in 1983 in Japan with instant success, forming a catalyst for international expansion. In late 1984 the heads of Disney's theme park division, Dick Nunis and Jim Cora, presented a list of approximately 1,200 possible European locations for the park. By March 1985, the number of possible locations for the park had been reduced to four; two in France and two in Spain. Both nations saw the potential economic advantages of a Disney theme park and offered competing financing deals to Disney.
Both Spanish sites were located near the Mediterranean Sea and offered a subtropical climate similar to Disney's parks in California and Florida. Disney had also shown interest in a site near Toulon in southern France, not far from Marseille. The pleasing landscape of that region, as well as its climate, made the location a top competitor for what would be called Euro Disneyland. However, shallow bedrock was encountered beneath the site, which would render construction too difficult. Finally, a site in the rural town of Marne-la-Vallée was chosen because of its proximity to Paris and its central location in Western Europe. This location was estimated to be no more than a four-hour drive for 68 million people and no more than a two-hour flight for a further 300 million.
Michael Eisner, Disney's CEO at the time, signed the first letter of agreement with the French government for the 20-square-kilometre (4,940-acre) site on 18 December 1985, and the first financial contracts were drawn up during the following spring. The final contract was signed by the leaders of the Walt Disney Company and the French government and territorial collectivities on 24 March 1987. Construction began in August 1988, and in December 1990, an information centre named "Espace Euro Disney" was opened to show the public what was being constructed. Plans for a theme park next to Euro Disneyland based on the entertainment industry, Disney-MGM Studios Europe, quickly went into development, scheduled to open in 1996 with a construction budget of US$2.3 billion. The construction manager was Bovis.
Design and construction
In order to control a maximum of the hotel business, it was decided that 5,200 Disney-owned hotel rooms would be built within the complex. In March 1988, Disney and a council of architects (Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman and Robert Venturi) decided on an exclusively American theme in which each hotel would depict a region of the United States. At the time of the opening in April 1992, seven hotels collectively housing 5,800 rooms had been built.
By the year 2017, Euro Disney, under the terms specified in its contract with the French government, will be required to finish constructing a total of 18,200 hotel rooms at varying distances from the resort. An entertainment, shopping and dining complex based on Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney was designed by Frank Gehry.
With its towers of oxidised silver and bronze-coloured stainless steel under a canopy of lights, it opened as Festival Disney. For a projected daily attendance of 55,000, Euro Disney planned to serve an estimated 14,000 people per hour inside the Euro Disneyland park. In order to accomplish this, 29 restaurants were built inside the park (with a further 11 restaurants built at the Euro Disney resort hotels and five at Festival Disney). Menus and prices were varied with an American flavour predominant and Disney's precedent of not serving alcoholic beverages was continued in the park.
2,300 patio seats (30% of park seating) were installed to satisfy Europeans' expected preference of eating outdoors in good weather. In test kitchens at Walt Disney World, recipes were adapted for European tastes. Walter Meyer, executive chef for menu development at Euro Disney and executive chef of food projects development at Walt Disney World noted, "A few things we did need to change, but most of the time people kept telling us, 'Do your own thing. Do what’s American'."
Unlike Disney's American theme parks, Euro Disney aimed for permanent employees (an estimated requirement of 12,000 for the theme park itself), as opposed to seasonal and temporary part-time employees. Casting centres were set up in Paris, London and Amsterdam. However, it was understood by the French government and Disney that "a concentrated effort would be made to tap into the local French labour market". Disney sought workers with sufficient communication skills, who spoke two European languages (French and one other), and were socially outgoing. Following precedent, Euro Disney set up its own Disney University to train workers. 24,000 people had applied by November 1991.
The prospect of a Disney park in France was a subject of debate and controversy. Critics, who included prominent French intellectuals, denounced what they considered to be the cultural imperialism of Euro Disney and felt it would encourage in France an unhealthy American type of consumerism. For others, Euro Disney became a symbol of America within France. On 28 June 1992 a group of French farmers blockaded Euro Disney in protest of farm policies supported at the time by the United States.
A journalist in the centre right French newspaper Le Figaro wrote, “I wish with all my heart that the rebels would set fire to [Euro] Disneyland." Ariane Mnouchkine, a Parisian stage director, named the concept a “cultural Chernobyl;” a phrase which would be echoed in the media and grow synonymous with Euro Disney's initial years.
In response, French philosopher Michel Serres noted, "It is not America that is invading us. It is we who adore it, who adopt its fashions and above all, its words." Euro Disney S.C.A.'s then-chairman Robert Fitzpatrick responded, "We didn’t come in and say O.K., we’re going to put a beret and a baguette on Mickey Mouse. We are who we are."
Topics of controversy further included Disney's American managers requiring English to be spoken at all meetings and Disney's appearance code for members of staff, which listed regulations and limitations for the use of makeup, facial hair, tattoos, jewellery and more.
French labour unions mounted protests against the appearance code, which they saw as “an attack on individual liberty.” Others criticised Disney as being insensitive to French culture, individualism, and privacy, because restrictions on individual or collective liberties were illegal under French law, unless it could be demonstrated that the restrictions are requisite to the job and do not exceed what is necessary.
Disney countered by saying that a ruling that barred them from imposing such an employment standard could threaten the image and long-term success of the park. "For us, the appearance code has a great effect from a product identification standpoint," said Thor Degelmann, Euro Disney’s personnel director. "Without it we couldn't be presenting the Disney product that people would be expecting."
Opening day and early years
Euro Disney opened for employee preview and testing in March 1992. During this time visitors were mostly the parks employees and their family members to test facilities and operations. The press were able to visit the day before the park’s opening day on 12 April.
On 12 April 1992, Euro Disney Resort and its theme park, Euro Disneyland, officially opened. Visitors were warned of chaos on the roads and a government survey indicated that half a million people carried by 90,000 cars might attempt to enter the complex. French radio warned traffic to avoid the area. By midday, the car park was approximately half full, suggesting an attendance level below 25,000. Speculative explanations ranged from people heeding the advice to stay away to the one-day strike that cut the direct RER railway connection to Euro Disney from the centre of Paris. Due to the European recession that August, the park faced financial difficulties as there were a lack of things to do and an overabundance of hotels, leading to underperformance.
A new Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride that was opened at Euro Disney in the summer the next year, 1993. However, a few weeks after the ride opened there were problems with the emergency brakes which resulted in guest injuries and as the ride was shut down for a short time so that safety investigations could be conducted.
In 1994 the company was still having financial difficulties. There were rumours that Euro Disney was getting close to having to declare bankruptcy. The banks and the backers had meetings to work out some of the problems involving the financial problems facing Euro Disney. It was in March 1994 that Team Disney went into negotiations with the banks so that they could get some help for their debt. As a last resort, the Walt Disney Company threatened to close the Disneyland Paris park, leaving the banks with the land.
Financial, attendance and employment struggles
In May 1992, entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter reported that about 25% of Euro Disney's workforce – approximately 3,000 people – had resigned from their jobs because of unacceptable working conditions. It also reported that the park's attendance was far behind expectations. However, the disappointing attendance can be at least partly explained by the recession and increased unemployment which was affecting France and indeed most of the rest of the developed world at this time; when construction of the resort began, the economy was still on an upswing.
Euro Disney S.C.A. responded in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, in which Robert Fitzpatrick claimed only 1,000 people had left their jobs. In response to the financial situation, Fitzpatrick ordered that the Disney-MGM Studios Europe project would be put on hiatus until a further decision could be made. Prices at the hotels were reduced.
Despite these efforts in May 1992, daily park attendance was around 25,000 (some reports give a figure of 30,000) instead of the predicted 60,000. The Euro Disney Company stock price spiralled downwards and on 23 July 1992, Euro Disney announced an expected net loss in its first year of operation of approximately 300 million French francs. During Euro Disney's first winter, hotel occupancy was such that it was decided to close the Newport Bay Club hotel during the season.
Initial hopes were that each visitor would spend around US$33 per day, but near the end of 1992, analysts reckoned spending to be around 12% lower. Efforts to improve attendance included serving alcoholic beverages with meals inside the Euro Disneyland park, in response to a presumed European demand, which began 12 June 1993.
In January 1994, Sanford Litvack, an attorney from New York City and former U.S. Assistant Attorney General, was assigned to be Disney's lead negotiator regarding Euro Disney's future. On 28 February Litvack made an offer (without the consent of Eisner or Frank Wells) to split the debts between Euro Disney's creditors and Disney. After the banks showed interest, Litvack informed Eisner and Wells. On 14 March, the day before the annual shareholders meeting, the banks capitulated to Disney's demands.
The creditor banks bought US$500 million worth of Euro Disney shares, forgave 18 months of interest and deferred interest payments for three years. Disney invested US$750 million into Euro Disney and granted a five-year suspension of royalty payments. In June that same year, Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud cut a deal whereby the Walt Disney Company bought 51% of a new US$1.1 billion share issue, the rest being offered to existing shareholders at below-market rates, with the Prince buying any that were not taken up by existing shareholders (up to a 24.5% holding).
On 31 May 1995, a new attraction opened at the theme park. Space Mountain: De la Terre à la Lune had been planned since the inception of Euro Disneyland under the name Discovery Mountain, but was reserved for a revival of public interest. With a redesign of the attraction (which had premiered as Space Mountain at the Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom in 1975) including a "cannon launch" system, inversions, and an on-ride soundtrack, the US$100 million attraction was dedicated in a ceremony attended by celebrities such as Elton John, Claudia Schiffer and Buzz Aldrin.
On 25 July 1995, Euro Disney S.C.A. reported its first ever quarterly profit of US$35.3 million. On 15 November 1995, the results for the fiscal year ending 30 September 1995, were released; in one year the theme park's attendance had climbed from 8.8 million to 10.7 million – an increase of 21%. Hotel occupancy had also climbed from 60 to 68.5%. After debt payments, Disneyland Paris ended the year with a net profit of US$22.8 million.
As of 2002, Disneyland Paris underwent a name change to Disneyland Resort Paris. In 2002, Euro Disney S.C.A. and The Walt Disney Company announced another annual profit for Disneyland Paris. However, it then incurred a net loss in the three years following. On 21 January 2005, Euro Disney S.C.A launched a new marketing plan to bring new, first-time European visitors to the Resort. By the end of the year, The Walt Disney Company had agreed to write off all debt that Euro Disney S.C.A. owed to The Walt Disney Company. This same year, having been open fewer than fifteen years, Disneyland Paris had become the number one tourist destination for Europe, outselling the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
In 2006, Disneyland Resort Paris launched the advertising campaign, “believe in your dreams” and paired with the TGV East European Line to encourage European family attendance to the Resort. Shortly after announcing a 12% increase in revenues for the fiscal year of 2007, Euro Disney S.C.A. implemented a “reverse split” consolidation of shares of 100 to 1. August 2008 brought the Resort’s 200 millionth visitor, and made for the third consecutive year of growth in revenues for the Resort as well as record a record of 15.3 million visitors in attendance.
In 2009, the Resort demonstrated dedication to the recruitment of new employment positions, especially for the Christmas and summer seasons, which continued in 2010 and 2011 when 2,000 and 3,000 employment contracts being offered, respectively. The 2009 fiscal year saw a decrease in revenues by 7% and a net loss of 63 million followed by stable revenues at 1.2 billion in fiscal 2010. Euro Disney S.C.A. refinanced their debt to Walt Disney Company again for 1.3 billion euros in September 2012.
A study done by the Inter-ministerial Delegation reviewing Disneyland Resort Paris’ contribution to the French economy was released in time for the Resort’s 20th anniversary in March 2012. It found that despite the Resort’s financial hardships, it has generated “37 billion euros in tourism-related revenues over twenty years,” supports on average 55,000 jobs in France annually, and that one job at Disneyland Paris generates nearly three jobs elsewhere in France.
Plans from outside the Walt Disney Company
In March 2014, a 13 year-old boy from Manchester England sent a letter to Euro Disney SCA in an attempt to help improve the resort's attendance levels, the letter held plans for a hotel at the entrance to Walt Disney Studios Park and an indoor waterpark in Disney Village. Euro Disney SCA wrote a letter back saying that they appreciated his ideas, but could not act on them because of their policy which meant that they were not allowed to act on ideas from outside of their company.
Disneyland Paris and its assets have been subject to a number of name changes, initially an effort to overcome the negative publicity that followed the inception of Euro Disney.
In 2002, Disney's CEO noted,
As Americans, the word ‘Euro’ is believed to mean glamorous or exciting. For Europeans it turned out to be a term they associated with business, currency, and commerce. Renaming the park ‘Disneyland Paris’ was a way of identifying it with one of the most romantic and exciting cities in the world.—Michael Eisner
|Entire complex||Euro Disney Resort1||Euro Disney Resort Paris2||Disneyland Paris3||Disneyland Resort Paris4||Disneyland Paris5|
|First park||Euro Disneyland1||Euro Disneyland Paris2||Disneyland Park (English)/Parc Disneyland (French)4|
|Second park||Disney MGM Studios Europe||Walt Disney Studios Paris||Walt Disney Studios Park (English)/Parc Walt Disney Studios (French)|
|Entertainment district||Festival Disney||Disney Village|
|Golf complex||Golf Euro Disney1||Golf Euro Disneyland Paris2||Golf Disneyland Paris3||Golf Disneyland4|
1until May 1994
2June 1994 until September
3October 1994 until February 2002
- Disneyland Park, opened with the resort on April 12, 1992 and is based on Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom
- Walt Disney Studios Park, opened on March 16, 2002 celebrating showbusiness, movies, and behind-the-scenes
Shopping, dining and entertainment
- Disney Village, an entertainment district containing a variety of restaurants, entertainment venues, and shops.
- Golf Disneyland features 9-hole and 18-hole courses.
Rides and attractions
Disneyland Paris has many different attractions for tourists to experience. According to the Disneyland Paris website the theme park's top five attractions are It’s a Small World, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. Each of the attractions is located in another “land” or section of the park with the exception of Space Mountain: Mission 2 and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast which are both located in the Discoveryland area of the park.
It’s a Small World is located in the Fantasyland portion of the park. It takes the visitor on a musical tour of the world while multicultural dolls sing the song "It’s a Small World". The park visitors travel through the attraction in a small boat which follows a river that runs through the attraction. Each part of the ride is themed for a different part of the world. It is known as one of the more family oriented attractions at the park.
Space Mountain: Mission 2 is located in the Discoveryland portion of the park. It is a roller coaster like ride that “will blast you on a warp-speed ride into the unknown. Feel the g-force as you dodge screaming meteorites and black holes - and then go back and do it all again!” This ride also comes with some restrictions. Any visitor must be at least 1.32 meters tall and also in good health. If a visitor has high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, or motion sickness they are strongly advised not to ride this ride. This ride is listed as a point of interest for thrill seekers.
Big Thunder Mountain is located in Frontierland. The theme of the ride is the old frontier. Visitors ride a “runaway train” through the man-made “sierras of Big Thunder Mountain.” The ride has a very old west feel. There are reddish orange rocks that jut up from the landscape. The ride also runs by a pond. It contains a lot of twists and turns so it is not recommended for anyone with any pre-existing health conditions. It is also listed as a stopping point for thrill seekers.
Pirates of the Caribbean is located in Adventureland. The name of this attraction gives away the theme. The visitor is taken through a series of secret caverns as they observe the “pirate life.” The Disneyland Paris website lists this as an attraction that is great for everyone. Some of the concerns with this attraction for visitors is that they could possibly get wet and it could be frightening to younger guests.
Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast is located in Discoveryland. It was inspired by the Disney/Pixar movie Toy Story 2. In this attraction the visitor sits in a star cruiser and shoots laser beams at targets. The more targets they hit the more points they earn. This ride is advertised as good for families with little ones, even though it is also listed that it may frighten young children.
These are just five of the many attractions that Disneyland Paris offers. The park is approximately 4,800 acres (1,942 ha). It is divided into two main parks that each hold separate attraction area within them. The park receives around twelve million visitors a year which makes it the most visited place in Europe, beating out Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower. Other attractions can be found by using the search option on the Disneyland Paris Website. The site allows it’s visitor to look at rides based on specific points of interest. Some of the points of interest listed are big thrills, family with little ones, and family adventure.
Attractions at the park are not limited to the rides. Disneyland Paris also offers tourists the opportunity to explore the region. While in the resort tourists may use the "Tourist Information Kiosk" to locate sights of interest in the surrounding areas of the park. Many of the sights mentioned are historical places where tourists can travel to learn more about French culture and French history. Disneyland Paris also offers several excursions, or day trips into Paris. Each trip focuses on a different aspect of Paris life.
The complex features seven Disneyland Paris hotels. The Disneyland Hotel is located over the entrance of the Disneyland Park and is marketed as the most prestigious hotel on property. A body of water known as Lake Disney is surrounded by Disney's Hotel New York, Disney's Newport Bay Club and Disney's Sequoia Lodge. Disney's Hotel Cheyenne and Disney's Hotel Santa Fe are located near Lake Disney, Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch is located in a woodland area outside the resort perimeter.
|Name||Theme||Architect||Number of Rooms||Opening Date|
|Disneyland Hotel||American-Victorian||Walt Disney Imagineering & Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo||496||April 12, 1992|
|Disney's Hotel New York||New York City||Michael Graves||565||April 12, 1992|
|Disney's Newport Bay Club||New England||Robert A.M. Stern||1098||April 12, 1992|
|Disney's Sequoia Lodge||American National Park Lodge||Antoine Grumbach||1011||April 12, 1992|
|Disney's Hotel Cheyenne||American Old West||Robert A.M. Stern||1000||April 12, 1992|
|Disney's Hotel Santa Fe||American Southwest||Antoine Predock||1000||April 12, 1992|
|Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch||Wilderness||Unknown||595||April 12, 1992|
Disneyland Paris includes six Associated Hotels which are not managed by Euro Disney S.C.A. but provide free shuttle buses to the parks: Marriott's Village d'lle-de-France, Radisson BLU Hotel, Vienna International Magic Circus Hotel (formerly known as Holiday Inn Magic Circus Hotel), Vienna International Dream Castle Hotel, MyTravel's Explorers Hotel and a Kyriad Hotel.
A railway station, Marne-la-Vallée – Chessy, is located between the theme parks and Disney Village. It opened on 1 April 1992 with a connection to the suburban RER network, line A. A connection to the TGV high-speed rail network opened on 29 May 1994 with the Interconnexion Est line. Thalys no longer operates from the station, but there are daily services from London St Pancras on the Eurostar. On 10 June 2007, a new high-speed line, LGV Est, began service between Paris Gare de l'Est and Strasbourg. Free shuttle buses provide transport to all Disney hotels (except Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch) and Associated Hotels. The yellow shuttle buses go to the main Disney hotels while the pink shuttle buses go to the other hotels further away but still in the Disneyland area.
Disneyland Paris has very strict rules on the 'hiding' of behind the scenes Disney. Photography and filming are strictly forbidden in backstage areas. The edges of the parks are lined with ride buildings and foliage to hide areas that are not for the public to see. Numerous gates allow entrance into the park for cast members, parade cars etc. When gates around the park are open, anything that can be seen through them is considered part of the Disney magic. Therefore from the second the gates are open, all of the crew must be in character and in place to 'perform'. As the complex is so big, shuttle buses take cast members to different parts of the park via roads behind the parks.
Many attractions are housed in large, soundstage-like buildings, some of which are partially or completely disguised by external theming. Generally, these buildings are painted a dull green color in areas not seen by guests, this choice helps to disguise the buildings among the foliage and make them less visually obtrusive. Walt Disney Imagineering has termed this color "Go Away Green." Most of them have off-white flat roofs that support HVAC units and footpaths for cast members. Inside are the rides, as well as hidden walkways, service areas, control rooms, and other behind-the-scenes operations.
Twin town – Sister city
Disneyland Paris is twinned with:
Incidents and Accidents
In 2007, a girl lost consciousness on the "Rock’n’Roller Coaster". The girl died before the ambulance arrived, however there were no signs of mechanical problems with the ride.
On October 10, 2010, an employee of Disneyland Paris died in an accident. The 53-year-old man became trapped under a boat while cleaning the "It’s a Small World" ride. The man died shortly after being taken to the hospital.
On May 6, 2010, two Disneyland Paris employees committed suicide. Frank, a chef at Disneyland for 10 years, hanged himself the day before returning to work. According to Frank's father-in-law, Frank scratched a suicide note into his wall “I don’t want to work for Mickey any more”. Frank had been depressed due to staff cuts and switching from “freshly made food to frozen produce”. Another employee killed himself after what is believed to be “humiliating” treatment at work. There have been many complaints from other employees that working six days a week leaves them exhausted and unable to work. Investigations have been launched and Disney has stated that there is no evidence linking these suicides to work related incidents.
On December 9, 2011, 12-year-old boy Bautista Riera from Argentina was left paralyzed from the neck down after riding the "Tower of Terror" attraction. X-rays showed he had suffered a spine and bone contusion.
On January 3, 2013, a steam train accident left four people with minor injuries after a wagon broke off from the steam engine ride. There were no serious injuries to the four people. Each person was taken to the hospital and was released the same day.
On October 30, 2013, a 5-year-old boy fell out of a boat at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride after losing his balance. He became trapped between a platform and a boat. He was taken to hospital, where he was in critical condition.
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- Samuel, Henry. "Boy 'fighting for life' after accident at Disneyland Paris". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Disneyland Paris.|
- Disneyland Paris (official site)
- Disneyland Resort Paris travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Euro Disney S.C.A. — Operating company of Disneyland Paris (official site)