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network to a Disneyland station. All was to be accomplished at government expense (Toy et. al., 1990). The choice of the French site was announced in 1985. After extensive negotiations, the final contract for the $2 billion park -- whose costs eventually ballooned
4 to $5 billion -- was signed in 1987 by then Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and Disney CEO Michael Eisner. In anticipation of the implementation of the Maastricht Treaty, which was to formally change the European Community to the European Union in the year the park was to open, 1992, the highly visible development was named Euro Disney. Although the Walt Disney Company was eager to reap the potential profits from the enterprise, the Suits at headquarters (and Michael Eisner in particular) were no more enthusiastic than they had ever been about assuming much of the risk. Therefore the structure for the new park was a complicated one. A finance company was set up as the owner of the park, in which Disney took a 17% stake. A separate company, Euro Disney, was formed to operate the park, of which 49% was owned by the Walt Disney Company. The parent Disney made arrangements to collect royalties and licensing fees from Euro Disney on admissions, food, beverages and souvenirs, similar to those of Tokyo Disneyland. To help raise capital, the rest of the shares of Euro Disney were listed on the Paris stock exchange and available to the public at an opening share price of $11.50 (quickly rising to its all-time high of $18). Disney had paid about $1.50 for each of its shares, a fact that, when it became known in the wake of a falling share price in the 1990s, caused considerable public criticism (Solomon, 1994). Foreshadowing the discussion to follow, Euro Disney shares were selling on the Bourse in the summer of 2003 at about $0.60 a share (and have been around this level for many years). The business press began to carry stories about possible problems for Euro Disney as early as 1989 when the launch of Euro Disney shares in Paris was met by a group of egg-throwing protesters who managed to pelt Michael Eisner in full view of the press. Potato farmers and local residents in Marie-la-Vallée staged a number of well attended protests and generated a good deal of public sympathy for what they claimed was a governmental give-away of their lands and way of life. When Disney began hiring staff for the park, the press carried stories about the demanding conduct and dress code on which Disney insisted to the dismay of its employees. The company ran into some highly publicized disputes with 16 of its French contractors, which threatened to delay the scheduled opening and were sent to arbitration. Construction costs escalated, largely a result of Disney’s desire to build an “architectural masterpiece” in Europe with no frills spared. The eagerness of the French government to attract Disney was not matched however by French intellectuals. As cultural historian Richard Pells (1997:311-312) put it: When the park opened in April 1992, writers competed with one another to see whose denunciations were the most hyperbolic. A ‘cultural Chernobyl’ exclaimed the theater