Disneyland Paris A bit of History

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As Walt Disney said, it's hard to believe that " it all started with a Mouse". Mickey is looking remarkably sprightly considering that it's been nearly a century since he was first brought to life behind the wheel of 'Steamboat Willie' in 1928. Since then he's acquired properties across the globe; with Disney Land Paris being the latest addition to his portfolio.

With one foot on the American property ladder Mickey began looking across the pond for his next investment. By 1975 the list of possible contenders had been whittled down to two countries: Spain and France. France won and it was decided that Europe's Disney Land would be built at Marne la Vallée, just 30km outside Paris. Architects began drawing up plans and work began on the 2,000 hectare site in the summer of 1998.

Despite the odd set back, things went well and Disney Land Paris opened its gates to employees in March 1992 and to the public a month later. On the first day of business the estimated 500,000 visitors failed to show up and Mickey was left red faced in front of a crowd of just 50,000. To make matters worse Mickey had been overspending and the total bill for the park had now exceeded 20 billion francs.

As recession spread across Europe things went from bad to worse. Mickey tried to claw back some dignity and custom by opening new rides, but by early 1994 it looked like the bailiffs were ready to move in. Some tough talking by Disney's CEO (Michael Eisner) managed to persuade their creditors to restructure loan repayments and give Mickey some space to breathe.

EuroDisney was re branded as Disney Land Paris and by the close of 1994 things were beginning to look up. By the middle of the following year Disney Land Paris was in profit and Mickey hasn't looked back since. Today the theme park continues to get bigger and better, and ever since 2002 Mickey has had a neighbour : Walt Disney Studios Park (which takes an interactive peek at what goes on behind the silver screen). Together both parks constitute one of Europe's most talked about destinations, and it seems that Walt Disney hit the nail on the head when he said " If you can dream it, you can do it".