The land of make believe
Euro Disney has designs on Christmas. But, asks columnist Dan Raven, is the magic kingdom losing its lustre?
agic begins the moment you tell them’ — remember – because they’ve just announced that, as a special treat for all their that one? It was the slogan of a 2011 TV ad for guests, they’re going to start celebrating Christmas on 9 November! I know, right? A whole extra month of having to listen to rubbish Disney’s theme parks that featured apparently genuine home movie footage of various saucer-eyed Christmas songs, eating food you would never have chosen to eat sprogs reacting with unhinged euphoria to the news at any other time of year and being nagged senseless by your kids that their parents were planning to take them to a Disney theme park. about tiny plastic objects that cost the earth yet seem to have no real But of course this was a joint campaign on behalf of both meaning while trying to pretend that you’re having the time of your Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Paris, so it’s a pretty bloody life. Who wouldn’t that, eh? Well, call me a big old Scrooge McDuck but I’ve got a funny feeling safe bet that a moment after half of those video cameras were turned off, the excited child turned to their parents and said, ‘I can’t believe that Euro Disney will still be in trouble when Christmas is finally we’re going to America!’ At which point the parents would be forced over (on 7 January, apparently), and that before too long its parent to sheepishly admit, ‘Er... no. It’s Euro Disney, actually.’ How quickly corporation will have to bail it out again. You have to wonder why those squeals of childish delight must have turned into howls of Disney don’t just cut their losses and give the land back to the cows? Because they believe that, as a corporation, they are too big to fail embittered rage! Because it’s not the same — everyone knows it’s not the same. They – or at least, too big to be seen to fail. When you think about how they’ve spent the last few years buying up virtually every can call it ‘Disneyland Paris’ all they like, but we all know other owner of profitable licensed characters in the it’s still just crappy old Euro Disney. So much smaller, world (Pixar, Marvel Comics, Lucasfilm, even the rainier and moodier than its American cousins that bloody Muppets Studio...), it’s hard not to conclude it seems faintly hilarious now to think that so that their ultimate goal is to possess some sort of many arty Frenchmen took the trouble to get so Euro Disney is so much global monopoly on childish dreams. upset when it first opened. smaller, moodier and rainier And once they have that, of course, they’ll It’s often struggled to hit attendance targets than its American cousins. finally be in a position to kick back and relax; during its 22-year history but the last two years have, by all accounts, been its worst ever, with The past two years have those new Star Wars films are going to end up looking like Ed Wood’s notorious Plan 9 From Outer visitor numbers dropping by more than half. And last been its worst ever Space, with wobbling flying saucers on visible nylon month owner Walt Disney announced it would inject strings bumping into polystyrene planets, simply because it up to €1bn into Euro Disney to cut the theme park operator’s debt and free up money for investment. That’s the third bailout wouldn’t have been worth Disney’s while to try any harder... and we’ll all go and see them anyway, because they’ll still be the best things on! since 1994. And what about poor old ‘Uncle Walt’? He must be turning in his grave — or whatever it is that people in cryogenic chambers do when The park’s top brass have realised the needed to pull something pretty something gets their goat (hiss?)... major out of the bag in order to turn things around, something that • Do you agree with Dan? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let literally couldn’t fail to appeal to any living, breathing, human being us know.
Too big to fail?
90 | s u sse x sty l e . c om | nov ember 2014