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French parks relent on rides

29 March, 2007

Thanks to generous state funding, France boasts a higher level of educational/cultural parks than arguably any other country in the world. But, as elsewhere, commercial realities are forcing a handful of venues to add ride-based attractions in order to widen their appeal.

The famous Parc Futuroscope is to open an interactive boat ride in time for Easter. Mission Eclabousse (pictured) is the second such ride by ABC Engineering of Switzerland, following the original at Tripsdrill in Germany, but this time takes on a predictably futuristic theme. Captains will steer their boats through the ride, but will need a sharp eye and a cool finger not to miss any of the targets along the way - if they do, they will be soaked by up to three water cannons.

A new dark ride, with a transport system by ETF from the Netherlands, is expected to soft open towards the end of the year. Last season Futuroscope added an attraction called Danse avec les Robots, using several individual Robocoaster units.

Meanwhile at Vulcania, the “European park of volcanism” which opened in 2003, Magma Explorer is a multimedia simulator-based attraction. Using a motion base from Bosch Rexroth and surround projection from Electrosonic, guests are taken inside a themed volcano, which erupts around them. Theming is by Jora Vision from the Netherlands and the UK’s Farmer Attraction Development. Vulcania visitors are also being encouraged this season to peer into La Grand Cratére, which recreates the smells, vibrations and energy of a volcano.