“To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past—and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world”
Walt Disney, July 17, 1955
On April 12, 1992, stirring words of dedication, echoing those spoken by Walt Disney in California over three decades ago, were directed once again to an eager audience. But this time the audience was in France, and the speaker was Michael D. Eisner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. Time and distance blurred as a new Magic Kingdom took its place among the Disney realms, and the first guests crossed the threshold into an enchanted place called Euro Disneyland.
The odyssey of the Euro Disney Resort began a little over seven years ago when, with the success of Tokyo Disneyland firmly established, The Walt Disney Company began to seriously pursue the idea of developing a themed resort in Europe. Five years ago, after an exhaustive site selection process, Disney executives met with French government officials in Paris to sign the contract that would launch the Europe project in Marne-la-Vallee', twenty miles east of Paris. It was March 24, 1987. Two-and-a-half years later, in September 1989, construction began.
“This is a great day for us all...and long awaited,” Eisner said in his opening day remarks, delivered from a lacy balcony above the drawbridge of the exquisite Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle). He noted that “...there were more than 10,000 workers from 1,700 European companies” and “thousands of Disney Cast Members from every comer of the globe... involved in this project.”
Eisner further commented, “This is the third continent on which The Walt Disney Company has come to play. All of our Parks are committed to a principle espoused by a free-thinking Frenchman...Chamfort. ‘The most wasted day of all,’ he wrote, ‘is that on which we have not laughed.”’
Roy E. Disney, Executive Vice President of The Walt Disney Company, reminded the assemblage of the fascination his uncle had for France, citing the family’s French origins and original name—d’Isigny. He noted, ironically, that it was not far from the Euro Disney site that Walt Disney first crossed the Marne River so many years ago.
“Today we celebrate a homecoming,” he said, noting that the d'Isigny family had sailed to England during the Norman invasion.
“Disney has returned to France,” he said “And the characters have a magnificent new home in the heart of Europe.”
Bob Fitzpatrick, President of Euro Disney, stated, “This is the most wonderful Park we have ever created...it is the work of a team of creative people with one goal—to astonish and entertain... every detail is designed to tell a story.” And this is what sets Euro Disneyland apart—storylines clearly defined by the intense detailing found in each land, each building, each costume.