Commentary: Mickey's magic fades in Paris

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The Independent Online
It's official: Mickey Mouse may be magical but he cannot wave his wand and make us all flock to Euro Disneyland.

The Disney empire is planning to alter the price structure of its Paris kingdom after all the hype and glory left the European public distinctly underwhelmed. Entrance figures have been disappointing during the summer and visions of an empty park during the chilly and wet Paris winter have obviously given the Disney accountants sleepless nights.

Blame it all on red-blooded American chauvinism. Disney thought that Europeans who flocked to Florida and California to behave like Americans would do so in their own back yard. They didn't. A trip to either of the US Disney empires for many families is the journey of a lifetime. Accordingly, they make allowance for the huge queues and hefty costs. Put Disney next to the City of Light and it becomes simply another tourist attraction, one that is more expensive than climbing the Eiffel Tower and requires more patience than seeing the Mona Lisa.

It has not helped that Euro Disneyland was launched in a lousy summer when consumer pockets were threadbare and French farmers and lorry drivers were revolting. But, even in the most perfect of conditions, Euro Disneyland would have had a rough ride. European tourists are a heterogeneous bunch who resent being treated as one strain of the same variety.

It will all come right in the end - Macdonalds, Coca-Cola and Levi's all attest to the willingness of Europe to swallow the Great American Dream. All it needs is a touch of modesty and an attempt to find out what the natives actually want.

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