Disneyland Paris to add Star Wars zone in $2.5 bn upgrade

The work will start in 2021 and significantly expand the park,which is Europe's most popular tourism destination

Afp February 27, 2018
Disneyland Paris,March 25, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS: The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday announced a $2.5 billion expansion of its Paris amusement park which will add a new Star Wars themed zone to the huge site.

Disneyland Paris will also build new areas devoted to its hit animated film "Frozen" and the Marvel comics franchise (Spider Man, The Hulk, X-Men) as part of the makeover, which will take several years.

The work will start in 2021 and significantly expand the park, which is Europe's most popular private tourism destination with 320 million visits since it opened in 1992.

A new artificial lake at the site in Marne la Vallee, in the eastern Paris suburbs, will become a hub for live entertainment shows.

French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the investment as a "very strong commitment" to France after talks at his office with Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger.

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"Your confidence shows that France is back!" tweeted the business friendly president, who has made reinvigorating the economy a top priority.

Disneyland Paris accounts for 6.2 percent of France's tourism income alone, according to the Walt Disney Company, which described the expansion plan as "one of the most ambitious development projects" in the park's history.

The US entertainment giant took back full control of the park last year after buying the 14 percent of shares it did not already own.

Despite its popularity, Disneyland Paris is burdened by heavy debts that surpassed a billion euros in the financial year to September 2016, and has made a loss almost every year.

It managed to reduce its losses in the first half of 2016-17 thanks to a boost in visitor numbers, which had dropped after a string of jihadist attacks in France.

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