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Disney to open studios at Euro Disneyland in 1996

By DAVE McNARY, UPI Business Writer

BURBANK, Calif. -- Walt Disney Co., bolstered by the success of its movie theme park in Florida, announced Thursday it will open a similar attraction in 1996 next to its planned Euro Disneyland park in France.

The company said its Disney MGM Studios-Europe will include full-scale movie and television production. The theme park will feature recreations of Hollywood and Sunset boulevards in Los Angeles and show how earthquakes, explosions and flash floods are filmed.

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Disney said the French theme park will resemble its Disney MGM Studios Theme Park at Orlando, Fla., which has been attracting capacity crowds since it opened in May. Disney announced plans in August to double the size of the $500 million attraction.

Analyst Jeffrey Logsdon of Crowell Weedon & Co. in Los Angeles said the announcement was not a surprise because of the success of the Florida operation.

'The movie theme park has succeeded beyondexpectations,' Logsdon said. 'It's been packed every day.'

The Florida attraction has a capacity of 25,000, considerably smaller than the other Disney parks. MCA Inc. is planning to open a competing attraction, Universal Studios Florida, next spring in Orlando.

Disney's Florida park features a recreation of Hollywood Boulevard of the 1930s and 1940s and will soon include a Star Tours flight simulator ride, already a major draw at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. and Tokyo Disneyland.

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Disney said that the French studio theme park will be built adjacent to its Euro Disneyland complex of attractions and hotels near Paris, due to open in 1992.

'The European studio will be able to draw not just the people in the European Economic Community, but also probably a lot of people from the Eastern bloc countries,' Logsdon said.

The new theme park will include a Magic of Disney Animation attraction, a Dick Tracy Crimestoppers high-speed ride and the Muppet Movie Ride. Disney recently acquired Henson Associates Inc., which created the Muppet characters, for more than $100 million in late August.

Disney said the move will enhance its strategy of increasing production of live action and animated film entertainment in Europe for the European and world film markets.

'In addition to the already opened television and motion picture animation company in France, employing 100 artists, we are excited at the prospect of bringing additional full-scale movie and television production to Europe while providing guests with the entertainment magic of a second Disney theme park,' said Michael Eisner, Disney's chairman.

Disney officers have previously disclosed that they are considering building a similar movie theme park at Tokyo Disneyland.

'This strategic direction in Europe is consistent with our enthusiasm for the studio theme park concept as exemplified by our plans for continuing development with the Oriental Land Company of the Walt Disney Studios Theme Park, Japan, at Tokyo Disneyland,' Eisner said.

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