Parks' Progress Report
Each park is unique” in Compagnie des Alpes’ (CdA) portfolio, says François Fassier: “We are not there to duplicate concepts. We always adapt to the environment.” Here’s a look at what’s happening in 2019.
Walibi Belgium is in the midst of a 100-million-euro metamorphosis, designed to position it as the country’s No. 1 family park by 2023. “At the end of the plan, we will have renewed 100% of the theme park,” explains Fassier.
The project will produce eight themed zones—Worlds of Walibi—anchored by new coasters, attractions, and restaurants. Karma World, inspired by India and Bollywood, launched this year with the cinematic “Popcorn Revenge” dark ride. The park also debuted Fun World, featuring the “Fun Pilot” family coaster (Zierer Force).
“You cannot add a new, high-quality product if you don’t take care of the older parts of the park,” says Fassier. “Everything has to be treated with the same respect.”
Walibi Holland is harnessing the power of “Untamed” to capture people’s interest. Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) converted the park’s “Robin Hood” wooden coaster into a sinuous hybrid. Walibi Holland Director Mascha van Till calls it a “super-smooth” ride, which flies through the park’s Wilderness area. “Untamed” combines “sensation and emotion,” making it the “perfect product for Walibi Holland,” says Fassier.
Les Avenières Veyrins-Thuellin, France
Walibi Rhône-Alpes is bewitching visitors with its “Mystic” coaster (Gerstlauer Amusement Rides). “Mystic” joins two rides, “Les P’tits Chaudrons” and “Le Totem,” along with a Chez Marie Laveau restaurant, to enhance the voodoo vibe in the new Festival City area. Future plans include an Exotic Island zone.
Bellewaerde added a second gate with Aquapark, the biggest investment in Bellewaerde’s history. The 17-million-euro indoor water park raises the Belgian park’s profile and extends its season. It will allow CdA to “give parts of Bellewaerde to our guests all year long,” says Fassier.
“What will make Aquapark unique is its green environment,” says Bellewaerde Marketing and Sales Director An De Ridder. It promises to be an “oasis” where trees and flowers will complement the water attractions.
“The park is decorated in a very natural way,” she says.
Guests will be able to relax indoors in leafy surroundings or in an outdoor sunbathing area, while children enjoy wooden-style play zones. Attractions will include a lazy river, a variety of water slides, an aquarium filled with exotic fish, and sauna and hot tub facilities. “It is a total experience for our target group, families and children from 6 to 12 years old,” explains De Ridder.
Aquapark aims to attract more than 200,000 annual guests, with French visitors among the key targets.
De Ridder hints that another attraction is at the planning stage. “Bellewaerde always looks for innovative concepts to allow visitors to experience authentic and unforgettable moments.”
Futuroscope welcomed a number of brands to the park in recent years, from Ubisoft’s “Les Lapins Crétins” (“Raving Rabbids”) to Cirque du Soleil (“La Forge aux Étoiles”), “L’Âge de Glace” (“Ice Age”), and the 4D adventure inspired by Luc Besson’s “Arthur and the Minimoys” movies.
The French edutainment park is famous for its multimedia attractions and shows. Next year, Futuroscope will launch its first roller coaster, currently known as “Mission Kepler.” Fassier puts the cost at close to 18 million euros. The park is working with Intamin to simulate an astronaut’s journey for riders. Intriguingly, Fassier says, “we will use this coaster not as a coaster, but as a vehicle for the guest experience.”
Parc Astérix unveiled “Attention Menhir!” as a special 30th birthday gift for guests. The popularity of the 4D theater has surprised even the French team, according to Fassier. “After one month of operation, it’s in Parc Astérix’s top three attractions,” a list normally dominated by roller coasters.
“Attention Menhir!” fulfils the need for an immersive, indoor attraction families can share together. “All the things we like in Astérix adventures are present,” says Guy Vassel, park marketing director. Guests join the character Astérix and his fellow Gauls as they resist Roman occupation. The comical excursion is inspired by the universe created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo.
CL Corp. worked with Parc Astérix on the 300-seat theater, which is powered by D-BOX motion technology. The attraction features an array of special effects and a specially composed score. L’Atelier Animation helped bring the animated short film to life.
The fun doesn’t stop there. A major new Intamin coaster is destined for Parc Astérix in 2021. “We have invested more than 60 million euros to create two immersive hotels, going from 100 rooms to 450 rooms in three years,” adds Fassier. A new hotel, Les Quais De Lutèce, will arrive in 2020. In growth terms, “there is no reason why this park will not reach 3 million visitors within four years,” he says.