Futuroscope: The History of a French Favorite

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Watershow at FuturoscopeFrance’s second most popular theme park, Futuroscope, has taken a unique approach to giving its visitors thrills. Most of its attractions, rather than being full-fledged rides, are multi-media experiences. The attractions utilize 3D cinema, as well as 4D techniques, that incorporate audio-visual simulation right into the theater experience. Futuroscope’s history, rise in popularity and constant reinvention to stay on the cutting-edge of technology make it one of the most interesting amusement parks in the world.

The park is located 6 miles north of Poitiers in the French department (county) of Vienne. Futuroscope was the brainchild of René Monory, who was president of the Vienne General Council at the time. He envisioned a theme park focused on the future that would become a major leisure destination. His vision also included a technology business enterprise zone and training hub.

Futuroscope park in France

On December 11, 1984, Monory put the first stone in place to mark the beginning of the project. Three years later in 1987, France’s first major amusement park opened to the public. Futuroscope recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012 and its 40 millionth visitor.

The park has long been committed to staying on the cutting-edge. Two important business practices have developed over the years that feed directly into that vision. The first is the bold strategy to completely renew 50% of its attractions every two years. This gives visitors the sense that there is something new coming out at the park each year.

Futuroscope builds its overall business model on what it calls a “10/20/60 model.” It uses 10% of its turnover, to renew 20% of its content, with the goal of getting 60% of its visitors to return. The business model seems to be working well. In 2010, Futuroscope had the fastest visitor growth numbers of any major European theme park.Futuroscope attractions

The architecture of the pavilions is also an important part of Futuroscope’s history. In 1984, architect Denis Laming was only 34 years old when he submitted his proposed designs for Futuroscope. Monory loved his bold vision and hired him. Laming has since designed all of the theaters and buildings for Futuroscope and the nearby technology park.

The Futuroscope Digital City was the first building constructed. The building features a giant white ball protruding from the building’s glass exterior, reminiscent of the sun rising on the horizon. Kinémax is the park’s flagship building, looking like crystalline structures rising up from the ground. It took 20,000 hours of drawing time to produce the desired architectural style. It has 45,750 square feet of surface area, every bit of which is covered by 3,000 reflective glass plates.

View of Futuroscope theme park

The Dynamic Vienne is another of the park’s fascinating theater buildings. The county takes its name from the local Vienne river, so it was a natural choice to incorporate water into this structure. The entire front wall of the building is a 7,200 square-foot flowing flat fountain. Then there’s the Magic Carpet, a building that looks like it is comprised of optical fiber tubes that light up at night. The variety and drama encountered in Futuroscope’s architecture is astounding.

With its striking architecture, unique approach to attractions and bold business model, Futuroscope is well positioned to maintain its position as one of the most interesting and successful theme parks in the world – and there’s not a single roller coaster in it!

French theme park FuturoscopeImage sources: wikimedia.org, abcsalles.com, telegraph.co.uk

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