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How A Much Maligned Theme Park Turned Everything Around

In the early 1990s, there was a theme park design that was criticised from day one for everything from cultural imperialism to restricting individual liberty, which was attended by almost as many staff members as visitors and nearly filed for bankruptcy.

And yet, Disneyland Paris still exists to this day, became the most visited theme park in Europe and at one point outsold both the Louvre and Eiffel Tower as the most successful tourist destination in Europe.

It did this by examining all of the problems people had pointed out about the failing Euro Disney park and working to fix them.

One of the biggest early issues and one that a lot of theme parks face in the beginning is a lack of attractions, which was a problem, given that there was just one roller coaster (Big Thunder Mountain), a ghost train (Phantom Manor) and a nature resort, compared to five hotels.

Given that France was facing a recession at the time, fewer people could afford an expensive resort such as Euro Disney, and given how cheap the Dollar was against the Franc at the time, people simply chose to go to Walt Disney World in Florida.

They initially tried to fix the ride problem with an Indiana Jones rollercoaster, but after guests were injured after the emergency brakes suddenly jammed on, that led to more bad headlines.

In 1994, however, everything started to turn around. Aggressive negotiations enabled Disney to restructure the $1bn debt they had accrued, and they changed their name to Disneyland Paris as part of a rebranding exercise.

They also started to make adjustments to meet the needs of the European market. Alcohol was served on the park in 1993, and they created a ride that integrated French history and culture into the very American park.

Space Mountain: De la Terre á la Lune was a huge steampunk version of the popular Space Mountain ride, aided by being influenced by Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From The Earth To The Moon, and the influential 1902 film A Trip To The Moon that was inspired by it.

This relaunch and opening of the new ride caused Disneyland Paris to report its first-ever profit, increasing its annual attendance by nearly two million people and boosting its hotel occupancy.

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