EU probes Disneyland Paris over prices

Disney character Mickey poses in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park outside Paris. (Thomas Samson, AFP)
Disney character Mickey poses in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland park outside Paris. (Thomas Samson, AFP)

Brussels - European Union (EU) regulators are investigating prices charged by Disneyland Paris after complaints from foreign consumers who said they were charged far more than their French counterparts.

The move by the European Commission is part of a broader crackdown on "geoblocking", the practice of companies limiting or restricting consumers' access to products and services based on the user's geographical location.

The EU executive says breaking down such unlawful barriers could boost business, particularly in e-commerce, and growth across the 28-country bloc.

Last week, it accused Sky UK and six Hollywood studios of illegally blocking access to pay-TV services in Britain and Ireland for people living elsewhere.

"We are currently scrutinising a number of complaints, including several against Disneyland Paris," Commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet said.

"We have more than a handful of complaints from both individual consumers and national consumer groups. We have looked at other amusement parks and did not find such wide price differences," she added, without giving any details.

Disneyland Paris, owned by Euro Disney, welcomed 14.2 million people last year, making it Europe's most visited tourist destination. Just under half of visitors were from France. The British made up 16% of the total and Germans 3%.

It did not immediately respond to enquiries.

The Commission said it was working with French authorities on the complaints. Similar grievances from consumers over differential pricing prompted the EU regulator to target six car rental companies last year, five of which eventually agreed to fairer deals for users.

Consumer lobbying group BEUC welcomed the EU scrutiny.

"Consumers are often not aware of unjustified price differences happening as they don't compare prices," said BEUC spokesman Johannes Kleis.

"We have the impression that this is a common practice across different sectors."

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