Euro Disneyland is currently under construction in Marne-La-Vallee, 20 miles east of Paris, France. When finished, this 5,000-acre resort will consist of two major Theme Parks, entertainment centers, golfcourses, campgrounds, hotels, and business and residential complexes. The first phase of the project is scheduled to open in spring of 1992.
When the Euro Disneyland contract was signed in March of 1987, Imagineers were already hard at work on the fourth Magic Kingdom. Although the designers at Walt Disney Imagineering had previously developed a very successful Theme Park “export” with the opening of Tokyo Disneyland in 1983, the Euro Disneyland project presented a new series of challenges.
“We like to think of the needs of a project as opportunities,” says Marty Sklar, President of Walt Disney Imagineering. “It’s really an exciting blank page for us, but in this case, it’s a page we have filled before with all the now-familiar images from the Disney Parks.”
Where the directive from the Japanese had essentially been “Bring us America," the Euro Disneyland project came with a contractual clause requiring a sensitivity to the culture of Western Europe, and particularly to the French culture. This directive, among other “opportunities” (such as language), has caused the development of some exciting new designs for the Euro Disneyland Magic Kingdom.
All Disney projects begin with exhaustive research, and Euro Disneyland was no different. Key Imagineers made numerous research trips to many existing European tourist destinations to experience the spectrum of entertainment available to the Euro Disneyland audience. “We did a lot of research with Europeans, including the French, to learn what would work in the Park and what wouldn’t,” says Tony Baxter, Walt Disney Imagineering Senior Vice President, who has been the key creative Imagineer responsible for the Euro Disneyland Magic Kingdom, as well as many other projects at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
“When we were out looking at European attractions,” he says, “we noticed that most places have an extended entrance before guests are asked for an admission fee.” This observation led to the creation of an expansive entry area, Center Court, complete with waterways, fountains and exquisite landscaping.
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