Disney’s European amusement park opened in 1992, 20 miles from the centre of Paris. It has not been an easy ride for its backers. When the idea of a Disney amusement park on the other side of the Atlantic was first proposed, there was considerable opposition from French unions and from many public figures, one of which described the planned amusement park as a "cultural Chernobyl".
Despite the opposition, planning permission was granted and work began on 4, 800 acres at Marne-la-Vallee-Chessy to construct the amusement park, which was given the name of Euro Disney. The traffic problems which were expected did not materialize and attendances were disappointing, with less than half of the expected number visiting the amusement park. The workforce was not happy and it was said that a quarter of them resigned as a result of the working conditions. The insistence of the amusement park on a dress code did not go down well with their employees who felt that it was an attack on their right to dress how they wished.
In 1995, the name of the amusement park was changed to “Disneyland Paris” in order to improve its image and attendances did begin to increase although financial problems remained. In 2005, new money was brought in and a three year programme of investment began. The Buzz Lightyear ride and Space Mountain: Mission Two have been added to the amusement park and visitor numbers reached 14m in 2007.
The amusement park now contains two golf courses, 13 hotels [7 run by Disney], nightclubs and theme parks. A separate development, Walt Disney Studios, was created alongside the amusement park in 2002.
French romantic influence seems to have had an effect. In 2005, "inappropriate frolicking" was observed between Minnie and Mickey Mouse and between Goofy and a snowman. More recently, one of the first sightings to confirm that President Sarkozy and Carla Bruni were an item was made in the amusement park. Vive Disneyland Paris!
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