DISNEYLAND Paris is 20 years old.
With 250 million visitors since it opened in 1992, and 15.7 million last year, the park is now Europe’s top attraction.
It is marking the big date with a new daily night-time show and a revamped daily parade.
Yesterday saw festivities including a speech of thanks to visitors by boss Philippe Gas, a giant “flash mob” by 2,000 employees to music from the new show, and a 20 drawn in the sky by planes.
The park was originally known as Euro Disney (still the name of the company that runs it), but was relaunched as Disneyland Paris in 1994 after poor hotel occupancy and takings.
A second park on a cinema theme, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened in 2002.
Today the attractions of the original park are still the most visited – 6.5 million a year for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, 6.3 million for It’s a Small World and 5.6 million for Buzz Lightyear’s Lazer Blast.
The 15.7 million visitors for the parks as a whole in 2011 were a record, well ahead of such mainstays as the Louvre (8.4 million) or Eiffel Tower (6.6 million).
Last year the site was said to support nearly 56,000 direct or indirect jobs in France and Euro Disney claim they have provided €50 billion of added value to the French economy since opening.
Even so, the company registered a loss last year, of €56 million, despite a rise in its turnover of 5%, to €1.3 billion. It is reportedly hoping that this year’s festivities will turn that around.
For the first time the park now has an end-of-day extravaganza every day, its new Disney Dreams. Centred on the park’s fairytale castle, it includes fountains, fireworks, projections, lasers, fire and “never before seen” special effects. There are also extended opening hours to mark the anniversary.
The traditional parade has also been changed, with a new show – Disney Magic on Parade, including new floats, costumes and music.
Longer term, Euro Disney say it wants to focus on developing Walt Disney Studios and, for 2030, creating a third park.