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|Euro Disney S.C.A.|
Disneyland Paris is a holiday and recreation resort in Marne-la-Vallée, a new town in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. The complex is located 32 km (20 mi) from the centre of Paris and lies for the most part within the commune of Chessy, Seine-et-Marne.
Disneyland Paris is composed of two theme parks, a retail, dining and entertainment district, and seven Disney-owned hotels. Operating since 12 April 1992, it was the second Disney resort to open outside the United States (following Tokyo Disney Resort) and the first to be owned and operated by Disney.
Disneyland Paris is operated by French company Euro Disney S.C.A., a public company of which 39.78 percent of its stock is held by The Walt Disney Company, 10 percent by the Saudi Prince Alwaleed and 50.22 percent by other shareholders. The senior leader at the resort is chairman and CEO Philippe Gas.
The complex was a subject of controversy during the periods of negotiation and construction in the late 1980s and early '90s, when a number of prominent French figures voiced their opposition and protests were held by French labour unions and others. A further setback followed the opening of the resort as park attendance, hotel occupancy and revenues fell below projections. The complex was renamed from Euro Disney Resort to Disneyland Paris in 1994. In July 1995, the company saw its first quarterly profit.
A second theme park, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened to the public 16 March 2002.
Following the success of Walt Disney World Resort 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 of these nations saw the potential economic advantages of a Disney theme park and competed by offering 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.
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.
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, 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, or ‘neoprovincialism’ 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 the United States supported at the time.
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." It also came to light that Walt Disney’s surname originates from a village in Normandy called Isigny-sur-Mer. Originally d’Isigny ("of Isigny"), it was later Anglicised into Disney.
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."
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.
In May 1992, entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter reported that about 25% of Euro Disney's workforce — approximately 3,000 people — had resigned 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, the results for the fiscal year ending 30 September 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.
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. In 2005, The Walt Disney Company agreed to write off all debt to The Walt Disney Company made by Euro Disney S.C.A.. As of 2007[update] the park was approximately US$2 billion in debt. In August 2008, Disneyland Paris was the most visited attraction in Europe, receiving more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined.
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.
Michael Eisner 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.||”|
|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||Walt Disney Studios Park|
|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 is based on a formula pioneered by Disneyland in California and further employed at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. Occupying 566,560 m² (140 acres), it is the largest Disney park based on the original in California.
On March 16, 2002, the Walt Disney Studios Park opened its doors to the public. At 270,000 square metres, it is a continuation on an earlier, never realised concept: the Disney-MGM Studios Europe.
The Disney Village entertainment district contains a variety of restaurants, bars, shops, Mickey's Friends and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Dinner Show, and other venues and stays open after the parks close.
Golf Disneyland features 9-hole and 18-hole courses.
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.
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 is 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.
Two deaths, several injuries, and one scandal has occurred inside the park. Employees have been involved in two of the events.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Disneyland Paris|