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 theme park in all of Europe. It is owned by The Walt Disney Company through subsidiary Euro Disney S.C.A. The resort covers 4,800 acres (19 km2) and encompasses two theme parks, many 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 the opening of the Tokyo Disney Resort in 1983.
Walt Disney announced a €1 billion ($1.25 billion) bailout plan to rescue its subsidiary Disneyland Paris, the Financial Times reported. The park is burdened by its debt, which is calculated at about €1.75 billion ($2.20 billion) and roughly 15 times its gross average earnings.
Until June 2017, Disney only held a majority stake in the resort, when they bought the remaining shares. In 2017 The Walt Disney Company offered an informal takeover of Euro Disney S.C.A., buying 9% of the company from Kingdom Holding and an open offer of 2 Euro per share for the remaining stock. This brought The Walt Disney Company's total ownership to 85.7%. The Walt Disney company will also invest an additional 1.5 Billion Euro to strengthen the company.
Following the success of Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, plans to build a similar theme park in Europe emerged in 1972. Under 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 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 have rendered 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.
In order to provide lodging to patrons, 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.
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 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 an unhealthy American type of consumerism in France. 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 at 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 during 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 also 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."
Euro Disney opened for employee preview and testing in March 1992. During this time visitors were mostly park employees and their family members, who tested 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, on the same date that Mediaset's La Cinq (unrelated to the resort) ceased transmissions. Visitors were warned of chaos on the roads. 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. Explanations of the lower-than-expected turnout included speculation that people heeded the advice to stay away and that the one-day strike that cut the direct RER railway connection to Euro Disney from the centre of Paris made the park inaccessible. 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 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. 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 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.
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. The disappointing attendance can be at least partly explained by the recession and increased unemployment, which was affecting France and 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, 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 so low 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 found 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 is 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 March 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. By March 2004, the Walt Disney Company had agreed to write off all debt that Euro Disney S.C.A. owed to the Walt Disney Company. On 1 December 2003, Euro Disney S.C.A launched the 'Need Magic' campaign, which lasted until March 2006 to bring new, first-time European visitors to the resort. And by 2005, 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 March 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 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.
For the first time in the resort's history, both the Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park closed from 14 to 17 November 2015, as part of France's national days of mourning following the November 2015 Paris attacks.
On 27 February 2018, Bob Iger announced that The Walt Disney Company will invest €2 billion into the Disneyland Paris resort. The Walt Disney Studios Park will be expanded with three new areas based upon Marvel, Frozen and Star Wars. In addition to the three new areas, the expansion includes a new lake, which will be the focal point for entertainment experiences and will also connect each of the new park areas. The first phase of the expansion will be completed in 2021.
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. Euro Disney was renamed Disneyland Paris in order to help locate the theme park more easily on the map.
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
Disneyland Paris encompasses 4,800 acres (19 km2) and contains 2 theme parks, 7 resort hotels, 7 associated hotels, a golf course, railway station, a large outlet centre (la vallée village) and a large shopping mall: Val d'Europe.
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's Astro Blasters. It's a Small World, located in Fantasyland, takes visitors on a musical tour of world attractions; Space Mountain: Mission 2 is a roller coaster in Discoveryland; Big Thunder Mountain is a mine train roller coaster in Frontierland; Pirates of the Caribbean is located in Adventureland; and Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, located in Discoveryland, was inspired by the Disney/Pixar film Toy Story 2 and features people shooting lasers at targets to earn points.
The park is approximately 4,800 acres (1,942 ha), and is divided into two main parks that each hold separate attraction areas within them. The park receives around twelve million visitors a year which makes it the most visited place in Europe.
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||Price||Rating|
|Disneyland Hotel||American-Victorian||Walt Disney Imagineering & Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo||496||12 April 1992||€€€||5*|
|Disney's Hotel New York||New York City||Michael Graves||565||12 April 1992||€€||5*|
|Disney's Newport Bay Club||New England||Robert A.M. Stern Architects||1098||12 April 1992||€€||4*|
|Disney's Sequoia Lodge||American National Park Lodge||Antoine Grumbach||1011||12 April 1992||€€||3*|
|Disney's Hotel Cheyenne||American Old West||Robert A.M. Stern Architects||1000||12 April 1992||€||2*|
|Disney's Hotel Santa Fe||American Southwest||Antoine Predock||1000||12 April 1992||€||2*|
|Disney's Davy Crockett Ranch||Wilderness||595||12 April 1992||€||3*|
Disneyland Paris includes six on-site partner hotels which are not managed by Euro Disney S.C.A. but provide free shuttle buses to the parks: B&B Hotel, Algonquin's Explorers Hotel, Vienna House Dream Castle Hotel, Vienna House Magic Circus Hotel, Kyriad Hotel and Radisson Blu Hotel. There are also 2 associated hotels located in Val d'Europe: Adagio Marne-la-Vallée Val d’Europe and Hôtel l’Élysée Val d’Europe.
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's 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 strict rules designed to prevent visitors from seeing backstage areas of the park. 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 colour 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 colour "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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Disneyland Paris.|