opinion column uk

Brexit could undermine Disneyland Paris and London Paramount

Disneyland Paris and the upcoming development of ‘London Paramount’ face significant hurdles if Brexit negotiations change the borders between the UK and the rest of the EU.

Opened in 1992 to much fanfare, Disneyland Paris over the years has welcomed millions of international tourists and has been a testament to Europe integration and expansion following the collapse of the USSR in the early 90s.

By 2022, London Paramount is expected to open in Kent, 30 years later, becoming a powerful competitor to Disneyland Paris which could alter its fortunes for the foreseeable future.

Recently it was announced that Disneyland Paris suffered record losses due to a drop in tourism in France caused by a combination of horrific terror attacks, national strikes and unrest. Tourism has been significantly dented in mainland France, especially around the capital. On top of that, a Syrian refugee crisis has deeply divided Europe and started a popular nationalist movement that could unravel the bloc in the coming years, and end the kind of integration and open borders that have been instrumental to the success of theme parks like Disneyland Paris.

London Paramount has yet to be constructed, but if it is successful, it will face a new kind of reality in a post-Brexit UK where there could be a physical border with the continent. At the moment, there is freedom of movement in the EU, but that could end by 2019 if the UK limits immigration and loses single market access. This would have severe ramifications for tourism in the UK as EU citizens would have to apply for visas just to cross the channel, so London Paramount would have to factor in the potential obstacles of attracting foreign tourists from the EU to come and visit Kent.

For Disneyland Paris, Brexit could prevent British tourists from easily travelling to France. There is already talk about charging UK citizens just to visit EU member countries after Brexit. Then there are currency issues with the pound that could make travelling to Disneyland Paris unaffordable.

After France, the UK is the second biggest market for Disneyland Paris, and a significant drop in numbers from British tourists could be catastrophic for the theme park, which could also face additional hurdles if the EU itself decides to close borders.

Both London Paramount and Disneyland Paris face an uncertain future in the Brexit negotiations. If the UK is successful in creating a fair agreement then they are likely to remain top attractions in the coming years, however, if the EU itself starts to unravel, both theme parks could face huge consequences that we can only speculate would be detrimental. The stakes are high for the entertainment business and any Brexit restrictions on the UK's access to the EU will have repercussions across the industry.

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