Disney’s success reflects both a cultural shift toward things American –- the country’s cinema-goers now watch five U.S. movies for every French production they see –- and a U.S. corporation's molding its products to European tastes. "Disney had to let go pretty quickly of its strict codes, replacing many of its American-trained senior staff with European officials who had a better sense of what would work here," says Crumley. "So there are a lot more sit-down restaurants compared with the initial emphasis on fast food, and those restaurants serve wine. Prices on souvenirs and accommodations are lower, too." The rival Parc Astérix, based on the popular French cartoon series, just can’t compete in Disney’s league: France prefers its escapist fantasy strictly American.
Like many Americans in Paris, Mickey Mouse — in the form of the Euro Disney theme park — was snubbed by the locals when he first arrived. Opened in 1992, the park got off to a rocky start and was heavily rumored to be closing. But since Disney adapted to their language and customs, the French have taken the Magic Kingdom and its rodent monarch to heart. And on Wednesday Euro Disney announced that it will open a second theme park in 2002 adjacent to Disneyland Paris. "Les Studios Disney" will cost $650 million, and will offer behind-the-scenes looks at the movies. "Disney has succeeded in making a visit to the theme park an integral part of the Paris tourist itinerary," says TIME Paris correspondent Bruce Crumley. "It’s now up there on the list of must-see sites with the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe." Last year, its 12.5 million visitors made Disneyland Paris Europe’s most popular tourist attraction.