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Walt Disney Company

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Until 1992, the Walt Disney Company had experienced nothing but success in the theme park business. Its first

park, Disneyland, opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. Its theme song, "It's a Small World After All,"

promoted "an idealized vision of America spiced with reassuring glimpses of exotic cultures all calculated to

promote heartwarming feelings about living together as one happy family. There were dark tunnels and bumpy

rides to scare the children a little but none of the terrors of the real world . . . The Disney characters that

everyone knew from the cartoons and comic books were on hand to shepherd the guests and to direct them to the

Mickey Mouse watches and Little Mermaid records. The Anaheim park was an instant success.

In the 1970s, the triumph was repeated in Florida, and in 1983, Disney proved the Japanese also have an affinity

for Mickey Mouse with the successful opening of Tokyo Disneyland. Having wooed the Japanese, Disney

executives in 1986 turned their attention to France and, more specifically, to Paris, the self-proclaimed capital of

European high culture and style. "Why did they pick France?" many asked. When word first got out that Disney

wanted to build another international theme park, officials from more than 200 locations all over the world

descended on Disney with pleas and cash inducements to work the Disney magic in their hometowns. But Paris

was chosen because of demographics and subsidies. About 17 million Europeans live less than a two-hour drive

from Paris. Another 310 million can fly there in the same time or less. Also, the French government was so eager

to attract Disney that it offered the company more



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