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Glamour Hits the Ruhr River Valley with Warner Bros. Movie World

June 30, 1996

BOTTROP, Germany (AP) _ Hollywood came to Germany on Saturday, ushered in by stars Sophia Loren, Michael Douglas, Claudia Schiffer and Chris O’Donnell.

The occasion was a grand-opening party for Warner Bros. Movie World, a theme park that is sort of like Euro Disney at Paris _ Movie World’s future competitor for summer visitors.

There was glamour galore outside this Ruhr Valley city as the stars toured the rides and other attractions of the 100-acre theme park, trailed by many of the 8,000 locals who were invited for the opening bash.

Wiley Coyote never gets the Road Runner in the Warner cartoons. But he had Schiffer, the blonde supermodel, as the pair strolled down the theme park’s Main Street.

At Rick’s Cafe _ named after Humphrey Bogart’s place in ``Casablanca″ _ heads turned and people applauded as Douglas walked by with an entourage of bodyguards.

``It’s Hollywood. It’s glamour. It’s all of that,″ park manager Joe Meck said.

Actors dressed as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other cartoon figures clowned around with celebrities and with children. Visitors were kept as far away as possible from the stars, but still strained to come within touching distance.

The attractions are pegged to Warner cartoons and movies. Visitors take a make-believe ocean voyage with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck from Hollywood to Germany on the Looney Tunes Ride.

During the Batman Ride, visitors help Batman track down the Penguin in a hair-raising chase above, through and below Gotham City _ while not even budging from their seats.

The park also has an Old West town, a middle-America-style Main Street, a 3-D cartoon theater _ and five movie studios of its own.

Located near a corner of Europe where Germany, Holland and Belgium connect, the Ruhr Valley is one of the most densely populated regions of the continent. There are 14 million potential ticket-buyers within an hour’s drive of the park.

Residents hope the park will boost the economy of the region, where the death of the coal industry has brought unemployment as high as 13 percent.

Movie World has only about 150 full-time employees and will have some 1,000 as part-timers. But area hotels, restaurants and recreation sites could get large spill-over benefits.

The park opens on Sunday. For those without starring roles in Hollywood, tickets cost $23 for adults and $18.50 for children.

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