With the success of Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, the Walt Disney Co. began planning to expand its theme parks internationally by the middle of the '70s. In 1983, Tokyo Disneyland opened to immediate success, and by the next year, plans for a European counterpart were in the works. Disney chose a French town, Marne-la-Vallee, as the site for Euro Disney, and construction began in 1988. Despite initial trouble surrounding its 1992 opening, Euro Disney (or Disneyland Resort Paris) now boasts more than 15 million visitors every year. In 2008, it was the most visited attraction in Europe.
Marne-la-Vallee lies 20 miles outside Paris, and it is estimated that 68 million people live within a four-hour drive of Marne-la-Vallee; for an additional 300 million people, reaching the resort takes only a two-hour plane flight.
Euro Disney covers nearly 5,000 acres. It contains two theme parks, seven hotels (all owned by Disney) and Disney Village, an entertainment district designed by Frank Gehry. The theme is deliberately American. Each hotel is modeled after a different region in America, and food served at the resort generally follows the American tradition of theme-park dining, with a few modifications for European tastes.
Many people in France were resistant to the idea of a Disney theme park within their borders. The idea was seen as consumerist, tacky and perhaps even imperialist; famously, a stage director named Ariane Mnouchkine called Euro Disney a "cultural Chernobyl." The overt U.S.-centricity of the park's management---staff was required to speak English at all meetings---also offended many French citizens.
The park reported huge losses for its first three years, due to poor attendance, ride malfunctions, and employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Perhaps attempting to dissociate the park from its previous controversies, the Walt Disney Co. renamed the park "Disneyland Paris" in 1994, and in 1995, Euro Disney added Space Mountain (De la Terre a la Lune) to its attractions and boasted its first-ever net profit. Today, despite its popularity, the park is questionably profitable: in 2007, it was still more than $2 billion in debt.
Disneyland Park in Euro Disney follows the same formula as it does in Disney's three other theme-park locations. It is organized into Main Street USA, Adventureland, Discoveryland, Fantasyland and Frontierland. Hotels in the complex include the Disneyland Hotel, Hotel New York, Newport Bay Club, Sequoia Lodge, Hotel Cheyenne, Hotel Santa Fe and Davy Crockett Ranch. Disney Village contains restaurants, shops and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Dinner Show. There is also a Golf Disneyland, with nine-hole and 18-hole golf courses.