New park planned for Paris by Euro Disney

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The Independent Online
EURO DISNEY, the company that runs Disneyland Paris, is preparing to carry out another capital restructuring to raise money to finance a second, pounds 480m theme park.

It is understood the company plans to build the new leisure facility on the same site as the original park at Marne la Vallee, east of Paris.

Euro Disney hopes to open the new park in 2002 to coincide with Disneyland Paris's 10th anniversary. The attraction will celebrate cinema and television, and Disney officials say it will draw 4.5 million visitors in its first year and create 4,500 jobs.

The project was first proposed to French authorities in 1997, but was shelved as Euro Disney struggled with mounting debt. The formula developed by Walt Disney, a 39 per cent partner of the Paris park, calls for clusters of two or more theme parks that boost the time and money visitors spend there.

Last month the company reported a 4 per cent increase in its operating revenues to 630.2m euros (pounds 415m) for the nine months to 30 June. Euro Disney said the improvement was due to increased spending by guests in the park and higher rates of hotel occupancy.

Disneyland Paris has more than 40 rides and attractions and has become Europe's most popular tourist draw, with 12.5 million visitors last year. The Marne la Vallee site also includes a convention centre, a film complex and hotels. An international shopping centre is due to open in 2000.

In March Euro Disney opened a pounds 10.2m three-dimensional feature, "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience", in an effort to lure more customers and encourage them to spend longer in the park. The attraction is also needed to raise revenues to resume the payment of royalties and management fees to Walt Disney this year.

Under the company's first Ffr13bn (pounds 1.3bn) restructuring in 1994, 63 banks, led by Banque Nationale de Paris and Banque Indosuez, raised Ffr6bn through a cash call that was partly guaranteed by Walt Disney. The US giant put up an additional Ffr1.1bn in credit and spent a further Ffr1.4bn on buying some of Euro Disney's theme park assets, which were then leased back on favourable terms. Walt Disney also suspended management fees and waived royalties on entry fees, food and merchandise for five years.