This Day in History: Euro Disneyland Opens

: Kiersten Resch, Herald Reporter

Walt Disney Imagineering expanded their influences from the United States across the pond to Europe on April 12, 1992. On this day in history, Disneyland Paris, originally called Euro Disneyland, opened in Marne-La-Vallee, France.

Similar to Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Magic Kingdom in Bay Lake, Florida, the newly created Euro Disneyland spanned 140 acres across France. The vast space it encompassed made Euro Disneyland the second largest Disney park — the biggest being Shanghai Disneyland. Euro Disney broke more records in 2016 when it hosted roughly 13.4 million visitors, making it the most-visited theme park in Europe and the sixth most visited theme park in the world.

Euro Disneyland has the most iconic elements of Disneyland theme parks and Magic Kingdom. It features Main Street USA and the iconic lands such Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Adventureland. Princesses come alive for children of all ages in every corner of the park, allowing travelers in Europe to experience Disney magic without taking a long flight to the United States.

In choosing the location for Euro Disneyland, many locations in Europe and the surrounding area were considered, including Britain, Italy, and Spain. Perfect conditions for land, space, and tourism appeal were what Disney Imagineers were looking for when they finally settled on building Euro Disneyland in France.

Marne-la-Vallee, being right outside of Paris, France was the perfect location for many travelers to visit no matter where in Europe or the surrounding areas they were. Paris is a hub of travel with quick access to Britain by train, a minimal drive for others in this area of Europe, and a short flight for millions of others who are visiting further parts of Europe.

When Euro Disneyland first opened, not every aspect of the park was as magical as Disney theme parks in the United States grew to be. Opening day of Euro Disneyland projected crowds of 500,000 visitors. Staff were shocked when opening day brought in barely 50,000 visitors to the park— a large difference in the American consumerism which was expected of Euro Disneyland.

After a year of being open, Euro Disneyland faced a major setback when an incident on the Indiana Jones coaster caused guests to sustain injuries on the ride. After almost going bankrupt weeks later, the bank restructured Euro Disneyland’s 1 billion dollars in debt for the park to be able to have a second chance in creating a magical experience. By 1995, more iconic rides were opened, such as Space Mountain, which allowed for Euro Disneyland to have its first year of profit. 

Though there were many problems at the beginning of creation for Euro Disneyland, the extension of this beloved theme park is now running better than ever. It is now a top European tourist destination which averages 13.4 million visitors each year — more visitors than even the Louvre and Eiffel Tower receive.