Disneyland Resort Paris
The idea to build a European version of Anaheim’s Disneyland was muted around 1975. Spain, Italy and the U K were all considered but eventually sugar beet fields to the east of Paris, France would become home to the new park. The area chosen was Marne-la-Vallee, partly because of its close proximity to Paris, and also it's central positioning within western Europe, a factor that was thought to be crucial to the park's future success if it was to attract sufficient visitors. The proposed location put the park within 4-hours drive for around 68 million people, and 2 hours flight for a further 300 million or so.
In 1985, contracts were singed by the French Government and Michael Eisner, the then CEO of Disney. The park was to be known as Euro Disney. Robert Fitzpatrick was appointed as President to oversee the construction on a 2,000 hectare site beginning in August 1988. A casting centre was opened in 1991 to aid the recruitment of cast members and the park eventually opened on April 12th, 1992.
By August 1992, estimates of annual attendance figures were being drastically cut from 11 million to just over 9 million. EuroDisney's misfortunes were further compounded in late 1992 when a European recession caused property prices to drop sharply, and the massive interest payments on the startup loans taken out by EuroDisney forced the company into serious financial difficulties. The situation was worsened by the fact that the cheap dollar was persuading more and more people to forego Europe in favour of holidays in Florida at Walt Disney World. EuroDisney was also over-populated with hotels, especially for a park that can be reasonably well explored within a full day. Coupled with high prices for food and souvenirs, the EuroDisney company started to close hotels during the winter months.
A brave face was put on the first anniversary of the park's opening, and Sleeping Beauty's Castle was decorated as a giant birthday cake to celebrate the occasion, however further problems were just around the corner. In summer 1993 the new Indiana Jones roller-coaster ride opened, but disaster struck just a few weeks after opening when the emergency brakes locked on during a ride, causing some guest injuries. As a result the ride was temporarily shut down for investigations.
By the start of 1994, with the company in serious financial difficulties, and rumours circulating the the park was on the verge of bankrupcy a series of emergency crisis talks were held between the banks and backers.
Everything came to a head during March 1994 when Team Disney offered the banks an ultimatum, that Disney would provide sufficient capital investment for the park to continue to operate until the end of the month, but unless the banks agreed to restructure the $1bn debt that the park's construction and operation had run up, the Walt Disney company would close the park, and walk away from the whole European venture, leaving the banks with a bankrupt theme park and a massive expanse of virtually worthless real estate.
Finally on March 14th, just before the annual meeting the banks capitulated, and agreed to Disney's demands, effectively writing off virtually all of the next two years worth of interest payments, and a three year postponement of further loan repayments. In return the Walt Disney Company wrote off $210m in unpaid bills for services, and paid $540m for a 49% stake in the estimated value of the park, as well as restructuring its own loan arrangements for the $210m worth of rides at the new park.
In 1994 the tide started to turn, prices were reduced, food was cheaper and special stay offers were made at the hotels. The park has gone from strength to strength and a second park – Walt Disney Studios was added in Mach 2002. It is the smallest of all Disney parks and has been heavily criticised by fans because of its lack of details. The park is supposedly themed around a working film studio, with the "lands" being studio lots. Most of its attractions are imported from the other Disney parks in California, Florida and Tokyo, yet the park has some original attractions, such as Moteurs... Action! Stunt Show Spectacular which was later exported to Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
In December, 2007, the newly built Tower of Terror opened its doors at the Studios and together with Crush’s Coaster and the new Cars ride should make this park more appealing.
Rides / Attractions / Parades:
Main Street USA –
During summer 2010 - the theme is the New Generation Festival where there is emphasis on new characters like Princess Tiana, the Pixar gang etc.
Parades (depending on season):
Fireworks: Because of local restrictions (and objections of the nearby village) firework shows are severely restricted and will only take place on special occassions. DLRP tends to use low level pyrotechnics.
WALT DISNEY STUDIOS:
Front Lot - Great Place to meet characters and get your picture taken
Production Courtyard –
Toon Studio -
Parades: Stars and their Motor Cars.
Paris version of Downtown Disney. Dine at great restaurants such as Planet Hollywood, Rainforest Cafe or King Ludwig's castle. Meet and eat with characters at Chef Mickey's. Shop in the stores or go to a rodeo evening at Bufallo Bill's Wild West Show. Go aloft in the Panoramagique balloon and see Paris 25 miles away! Dance the night away at Billy Bob's Country Western Saloon or just enjoy a burger at McDonalds.
Not far from the parks is the Val D'Europe International shopping centre and Sea Life centre. Buses run here from the parks.
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