Euro Disney mixes European flavor inwith American

December 15, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

PARIS -- Twenty miles east of here, a make-believe world is rising amid fields of hay and sugar beets.

It's Euro Disney, the giant theme park/resort that is Disney's first venture in Europe.

And what a venture it is! Disney is creating a fantasy land a fifth the size of the city of Paris, and though it's five months from its April 12 opening, it has already caught the imagination of Europeans.

More than a half-million of them already have paid 10 francs a head ($1.80) to take a peek in Euro Disney's preview center since it opened last December.

Now, behind the sorcerer's-cap facade of the preview center, visitors can watch the fanciful structures of Euro Disney take shape.

The dreamlike spires of Sleeping Beauty's castle float over a Magic Kingdom bigger than Florida's.

An 85-foot tree is rising over the Swiss Family Robinson's rocky island, and Alice in Wonderland is getting ready to lead visitors through the looking glass into a real hedge maze with movable paths.

While visitors familiar with the American parks will recognize most of its attractions, Euro Disney is not an identical twin of California's Disneyland and Florida's Walt Disney World.

There are differences, small and large, as well as some entirely new features.

The theme-park component of Euro Disney is called Euro Disneyland, not the Magic Kingdom, as in the United States. It does have five "lands," but to draw more on European personalities and traditions, the American Tomorrowland takes the name of Discoveryland. It will draw on the works of Jules

Verne, Leonardo da Vinci and H. G. Wells.

Fantasyland here is much larger than those in Florida and California, and puts more emphasis on the European roots of the fairy tales. Snow White, created by the Grimm brothers, is more Germanic than the American version, and Pinocchio will have more of an Italian flair.

, Also, since the climate in Paris is far different from that of Florida and California, the new theme park has made some concessions to the weather.

Main Street U.S.A., for instance, will have arcades so that in cold or inclement weather visitors can explore this nostalgic area indoors.

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