Disney Magic Not Working So Well in Europe

From The Guardian, a report that Disneyland Paris — once called “Euro Disney” — is in financial trouble.

le château de Disneyland Paris
(“le château de Disneyland Paris,” by Louis Engival, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

From the article, Disneyland Paris forced to ask for €1bn emergency rescue,

The theme park, which was dubbed a “cultural Chernobyl” when it opened 22 years ago, is haemorrhaging visitors. It drew in 14.1 million over the past 12 months, a drop of 800,000 on the previous year and 1.5 million lower than 2012…. But experts believe that to start making money it needs to draw in at least 15 million people a year. The park last turned a profit in 2008 and expects to lose €110m to €120m this year.

So, as a result, the Walt Disney company, which owns 40% of the Paris attraction, is stepping in for “its third multimillion-euro bailout of its French offspring,” to the tune of a billion euros (at today’s exchange rate, $1.27B, some in cash and some converting debt into shares) and ten years of “breathing space” on the remainder of its €1.75B ($2.21B) debt.

It surprised me to learn that, “While visitor numbers are down, the park still pulls in more people than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower combined, making it Europe’s biggest tourist attraction.” I never even considered going to Disneyland Paris when Jill and I were in Europe for the World Science Fiction Convention this past August — not that our entry fee would have made a dent in that amount of debt!

I’m not sure that there’s any big lesson in all this — you can take it as a cautionary tale; as an example that just because something works in one place it’s not guaranteed to work somewhere else; or as encouragement that even highly successful companies don’t always succeed when they pursue new ventures — but it was interesting to me.

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2 Responses to Disney Magic Not Working So Well in Europe

  1. Guy Stewart says:

    I’m not sure what a “cultural Chernobyl” is, BUT, a lesson we might take from this is a cautionary tale for any kind of future we have in space or in some kind of alien contact. It’s a CERTAINTY that we’ll try to export our cultural icons (like Disney World) elsewhere. While it’s popular in Europe, I wonder who it is popular WITH? The French or with Americans VISITING France and looking for a bit of home…

    • I wondered that, too. I don’t know if it’s more of a draw for Europeans who don’t want to make the flight to the US, or for ex-pats, or who.

      Of course, not all of our cultural exports are even this well-received ….