EURO DISNEY RIVAL PLAINLY SEES OPPORTUNITY IN SPAIN

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Grand Peninsula will find out next year what Euro Disney never will: how well a theme park works in Catalonia.

Grand Peninsula next April will open Europe's second-largest theme park in Salou, 74 miles southwest of Barcelona.

Although the unnamed park is handled by the same agency network as Euro Disney, Ogilvy & Mather, and is rising on a site considered but rejected by Disney, the similarity ends there.

The 284-acre Spanish park, a mere corner of Euro Disney's 4,800 acres, is aiming to avoid its larger rival's missteps. To this end, the park is targeting local audiences as well as travelers, building on a site marked by pleasant weather, operating only during peak season, pricing reasonably and serving alcohol.

Park management has visited and spoken to most of the major theme parks for advice, including Euro Disney, said Commercial Director Alberto Poblet.

Now referred to as Tibigardens, the project was the brainchild of U.S. theme park operator Anheuser-Busch Cos., which holds 20% of the stock.

Other shareholders are 40% holder Pearson, which already owns the Alton Towers park in the U.K. and Madame Tussaud's wax museum; and bank La Caixa, with 30%. Electric utility Fecsa has 10%.

While Euro Disney is billed as a destination of its own, the Spanish park plans to rely on international travelers already visiting the area and locals. Almost 3 million visitors are expected in 1995, when the park will be open from early April through October, Mr. Poblet said.

Since advertising will focus on Spaniards and foreigners already visiting Spain, there's no conflict with O&M's Euro Disney account, handled out of Paris, said Barcelona-based Bassat/Ogilvy & Mather Managing Director Enric Pujadas.

Bassat's $7 million introductory account looks lean next to Euro Disney's estimated $50 million account.

Grand Peninsula won't discuss in detail its ad plans, set to break via TV and print next year. But Mr. Pujadas said tour operators will be heavily targeted through specialized magazines and direct marketing.

In France and Italy, where tourists are more likely to travel on their own than take package tours, the park will make its presence known at tourism fairs and professional workshops.

Grand Peninsula is also going after the French, the largest foreign group to travel to Catalonia. Outdoor boards will be placed this summer along Spanish roads that French drivers take to the region; there will also be brochures in rest stops and tourist attractions along the way. Unlike Euro Disney's pan-European approach, most of the traditional advertising will be in Spain.

Grand Peninsula's park,-which is divided into themed areas representing Catalonia, China, Polynesia, Mexico and the U.S. West-will offer merchandise in a wide price range, from leather coats to T-shirts. The park is also negotiating with sponsors for a film and soft-drink concession; though Mr. Poblet wouldn't comment, they are believed to be Eastman Kodak Co. and Coca-Cola Co.

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