Merci Mickey! 20 Years Of ‘Euro Disney’ By The Numbers

Mickey Mouse muscled his way into the French tourism market in 1992 with the opening of Euro Disney. Now called Disneyland-Paris, the park is France's top tourism attraction and employs nearly 15,000 people. But not all are thrilled.

Ears to you Walt Disney (MagPhoto2011)
Ears to you Walt Disney (MagPhoto2011)


PARIS -- No doubt the first thing that comes to mind for many when they think of Paris is the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe the Louvre. But when it comes to tourist revenue, neither can hold a candle to ‘Euro Disney," which has attracted a quarter billion visitors since opening its doors here 20 years ago. That's about the same number of paid customers the Eiffel Tower has received since its grand opening – in 1889.

Now called Disneyland-Paris, the amusement park is an almost exact replica of its namesake in Anaheim, California. There's nothing remotely French about it. Tant pis! People love it anyway. According to a study carried out by the research firm Setec, 15.7 million visited the park last year, making it France's number one tourist destination. The Louvre and Eiffel Tower, in contrast, drew some 8.8 million and 7.1 million paid visitors respectively.

Foreigners are particularly fond of the park – especially British, Dutch and German tourists. Together they have spent some 37 billion euros in France over the past two decades. But the French frequent Disneyland-Paris as well, accounting for roughly 42% of its customers.

Not everyone, however, is completely charmed by popular park. The Setec study estimates that the American venture has created some 55,000 direct and indirect jobs since its April 12, 1992 inauguration. But Mickey doesn't pay so well. Right now the park employs approximately 14,700 people, many as servers and shop clerks, who earn between 1,100 and 1,300 euros per month. And while Disneyland-Paris does pay taxes – roughly 5.33 billion euros worth over the past two decades – the bulk of its earnings go straight to Mickey's motherland, the United States.

Read more from Le Monde in French

Photo – MagPhoto2011

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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