Euro Disneyland, from the start, was Eisner's Folly. Euro Disney's failure is not because Disney overspent on it, but because Eisner's love affair with Paris caused him to ignore common sense and research just so he could build a fancy new park in France.
Originally Posted by MrLiver
The United States and Japan have built-in audiences for Disney. Paris did not, and Disneyland Paris continues to struggle because of that.
From James B. Stewart's DisneyWar:
But nothing excited Eisner's architectural ambitions more than plans for an entirely new theme park in Europe. [ . . . ] Disney had evaluated nearly twelve thousand potential sites in Europe, and had narrowed the choices to three: two along beaches on the Mediterranean near Barcelona, Spain, and the other in a large beet field east of Paris, near the town of Marne-la-Vallee. Eisner and wells were both immediately enthusiastic. [ . . . ] There was much to recommend the Spanish sites, starting with the weather, but Eisner wanted France from the start. To him, France represented the pinnacle of Western culture, the antithesis of American mass culture that, ironically, Disney itself represented. Since his brief foray to Paris as an aspiring playwright, Paris had been where Eisner wanted to make his mark. Two camps within Disney quickly formed: the traditional parks people, led by [Dick] Nunis; and Eisner, who was backed by Gary Wilson and [Frank] Wells. Eisner argued that the weather in Paris wasn't much worse than Tokyo, and the Japanese were willing to wait in lines for for hours in subfreezing temperatures. Paris had a much larger population than Barcelona, was a year-round tourist destination, and was more of a transportation hub. Nunis argued that Spain had a far more cooperative government, was offering better locations near beaches, and was already a major tourist destination, Europe's equivalent of California or Florida. (pg 81)
Whatever the cost, Euro Disney did succeed in opening at precisely 9:00 A.M. on April 22, 1992. All the architects were on hand along with stars Candice Bergen, Eddie Murphy, and Melanie Griffith. Farmers blockaded the roads. French president Francois Mitterrand declind to attend, dismissing the expensive new investment with Gallic indifference as "pas ma tasse de the" ("just not my cup of tea"), a comment that infuriated Eisner.
For all Disney's efforts, it was clear from early reactions that Europeans would not be easily won over by Disney's American version of make-believe. [ . . . ] The opening day attendance was just six thousand people, far short of the projected ten thousand. Although attendance through December reached seven million, it fell off drastically during the cold weather. Unlike the Japanese, the French were not willing to wait in lines in the cold. Nice as the hotels were, few wanted to stay so far from Paris. (pg 128)
Nearly all of the assumptions Disney has made in the early projections and used to determine the budget had been wildly off base. Europeans' vacation habits were dramatically different from Americans', something that might have been anticipated had Disney relied on European data rather than projecting results from Disney World onto a European setting. For one thing, the average middle-class European had far more vacation time than did Americans. But this meant that they spent far less per day to make ends meet. They were not willing to stay in expensive hotels like the ones Disney has built, nor did they eat, drink, attend shows, or buy souvenirs at a rate anywhere near that of Americans. (pg 129)
To compare Disneyland Paris' misfortunes and troubles to to Disneyland's, Walt Disney World's, or Tokyo's just isn't a fair comparison.