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Walt Disney to invest 2 billion euros in Disneyland Paris

Key Points
  • Disney CEO Iger met President Macron in Paris
  • New attractions planned for Disneyland Paris
  • Disneyland Paris is Europe's most visited theme park
  • Walt Disney took control of old Euro Disney firm last year

The Walt Disney Company on Tuesday announced a 2 billion euro ($2.47 billion) investment drive to expand its French theme park Disneyland Paris, which it took full control of last year.

Chief Executive Robert Iger announced the spending plan after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Atmosphere during the Disneyland Paris 25th Anniversary Parade at Disneyland Paris
Marc Piasecki | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The development will include three new areas based on Marvel superheroes such as Spider-Man and the Hulk, Disney's animated film Frozen and Star Wars, and will be rolled out in phases, starting in 2021. There will also be new attractions and live entertainment experiences.

"The expansion plan is one of the most ambitious development projects at Disneyland Paris since its opening in 1992 and underscores the company's commitment to the long-term success of the resort as Disney's brand beacon in Europe," Walt Disney said in a statement.

Disneyland Paris is Europe's most visited theme park. It sits on a 2,230-hectare site about 32 kilometres (20 miles) east of Paris, though only half of site has been developed so far, according to the company's 2016 annual report.

With more than 320 million visitors passing through its turnstiles since 1992, the park accounts for 6.2 percent of France's tourism income and has been a boon for local employment, employing some 16,000 staff.

Even so, Euro Disney faced deep financial troubles after making overly optimistic projections on visitor numbers and taking on too much debt.

Walt Disney took control of the ailing company in June 2017 and de-listed its shares.

Iger: Leading Disney is a thrill and privilege
Iger: Leading Disney is a thrill and privilege

Its new investment drive comes amid a rebound in French tourism after the industry was roiled by a series of Islamist militant attacks in Paris, Nice and other cities.

Euro Disney racked up a net loss of 858 million euros in 2016 as visitor numbers fell 10 percent to 13.4 million. However, 2017 marked the French capital's best year for tourism in at least a decade.

Disneyland Paris comprises two theme parks - the fairytale-themed Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios Park. Its seven hotels have some 5,800 bedrooms, two convention centres and a golf course.

This month, Walt Disney reported a quarterly profit that topped Wall Street forecasts as theme park crowds packed a new "Avatar" land, making up for a profit decline at broadcast network ABC.