Disneyland Paris has had its share of controversy, catastrophe and crisis, but its position in the pantheon of top European and world tourist destinations has been assured for many years now. No matter whether you fall into the equally vocal ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ camps, here are five fun facts about the eternally divisive yet popular theme park resort.
Serious planning to bring the Disney franchise to Europe followed the immediate success of the Disney theme park in Tokyo in 1983. The idea had been passed around by senior executives in the company for ten years before that but, at that time, it made more financial sense to go to Japan first. It took another nine years of planning, negotiating and building before the Euro Disney park opened to the public in 1992.
The location of the park had been the subject of intense debate during the planning stages. The original idea had been to locate the park on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to take advantage of a warmer climate similar to the ones enjoyed by the American Disney resorts in Florida and California. France and Spain were both vying to play host to the park. The actual location was eventually chosen to be as close as possible to the largest target audience possible. Disneyland Paris is believed to be no more than four hours drive away for seventy million people and no more than a two hour flight away from three hundred million more.
The resort is huge, approximately 4,800 acres divided into two distinct theme parks, seven Disney owned hotels, six Disney associated hotels, an obligatory golf course and the resort’s very own railway station connected to the Parisian suburban transport network and international airports.
Disneyland Paris receives approximately twelve million visitors per year which makes it by far the most popular tourist attraction in Europe, easily beating such stalwarts as Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower. In fact, Disneyland Paris is the fourth most visited tourist attraction in the world. The other three are the Disney resorts in Florida, California and Tokyo.
The name change from Euro Disney to Disneyland Paris came about after the company did some basic market research to establish why visitor numbers in the first years were so much lower than projected. One suggested reason was the connotations of the word ‘Euro’. To an American audience this suggested exotic glamour and cultured excitement. However, it was discovered that to a European audience, the word ‘Euro’ was associated with mundane finance and dour, repetitive work.
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