Euro Disney to discuss its links with parent

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The Independent Online
EURO DISNEY is to discuss its relationship with its parent, Walt Disney, when reporting its 1992 results in November, the company confirmed yesterday.

The news came after speculation over the past week that Walt Disney may rethink the pact under which its European operation pays it royalties and management and incentive fees.

Euro Disney also said it was planning some minor changes at the theme park near Paris. Robert Fitzpatrick, chairman, told reporters that the company intended to convert two or three full-service restaurants to cafeteria service to reduce the length of queues in the parks and respond better to children's needs.

Mr Fitzpatrick's remarks came after Euro Disney announced that visitors had topped the 7 million mark last Sunday. It originally predicted 11 million in the first year from its 12 April opening. Although the figure is encouraging given poor summer and autumn weather, it indicates that, with a drop likely in winter, the target will not be met.

Michael Eisner, the chief executive of Disney, said earlier this week that Euro Disney was waiting for French approval for a theme park on the future before beginning its second phase of development at Marne-la-Vallee. This is a cinema park, whose construction had been scheduled to start over the summer. 'We want the green light from the French authorities for the third park before starting building the second,' he said.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the strength of the French franc could reduce the number of foreign visitors after the recent currency turbulence in Europe. 'It hasn't been a problem yet but we need more time to see.'

He said the French, making up about 30 per cent, were the largest group of visitors to the park so far, followed by the British and the Germans.

In various statements this week, Mr Eisner has tried to counter impressions of bad performance at Euro Disneyland.

He said he regretted a decision to close one of the resort's hotels for the winter since it had sent the wrong signal. He also said that the departure of 4,000 employees out of 16,000 after the summer was simply a seasonal factor.

This statement was consistent with information given by Euro Disney before the park opened, when it spoke of a permanent staff of 12,000.

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