Having flown many times from the UK back home to Poitiers airport and seen this park from the air, I have always wondered what it was all about. All those unusual shapes of the buildings, stark lines made from various reflective materials and water everywhere.
Well today we got to see it from the ground and not the sky! Futoroscope.
One of my lady friends had 2 tickets which she couldn’t use, due to back problems, so offered them to me. I took them, not sure what I was letting myself into. The expiry date was quite short on the tickets so after a quick check on the weather website, we decided to go on the only overcast day between days of constant rain and thunderstorms.
We arrived at the gates at 10.30 – not too busy and walked straight in – no major queues. Stopped off at the information desk and picked up a translation device and some headphones (this is a must for anyone who is not fluent in French) and proceeded into the park.
All around Futuroscope are wondrous works of art, placed on benches, grass banks, lakes etc.
A little risqué but fun. Remind you of anyone?
Whoa boy !
The park consists of over 25 different rides or experiences. These are mostly in the form of giant cinema screens which offer 3D or 4D adventures. For the younger at heart there are plenty of outside water rides and fountains to get soaked in and body driers nearby to dry you out again!
We decided we would go to the far end of the park and work our way back, missing any major queues. The first show was inside a building shaped like a giant ball inside a metal square.
An Imax theatre showing a film about our Blue Planet. The images had been filmed by astronauts on the ISS and takes you on a voyage from the Amazon Rainforests to the Serengeti. It was truly an awe inspiring movie, if not a little bit preachy.
Next was a 4D ride called Arthur based on a part animated/part action movie. For those of you, like me, who have never heard of this character before – check out this link – Arthur and the Invisibles.
This ride runs continuously all day, so we were not sure how long the queue would be. At peak times there is a major crowd management maze of barriers outside, but we waltzed right through. Only to find an ingenious hidden internal queue management system! Approx 800 people infront of us inside a network of corridors decorated like Viet Cong tunnels.
These tunnels are lit by furry gonks hanging from the ceiling, interspersed with giant spiders. You obviously need to know the movie to understand this. When we got to the ride itself, we were sat in a large beetle which proceeded to throw us around a 3D fairyland. Air blown in our faces and spider’s webs falling on our heads – it was all great fun and over far too quickly.
Next up – a charming adventure of The Little Prince. In the story we flew with him from planet to planet in search of the Rose. It is all in 3D with a vibrating platform, wind,water and bubbles. Simply lovely.
Next stop – Dancing with Robots. Another long queue, although the side attractions while waiting are interesting. Robots over the decades from the 1950s onwards, in film, at work and in the home. It is funny to watch some of the Japanese videos of humanoid robots trying to mimic the way we walk and move, cute robot dogs playing with toys and robot housemaids.
All too soon we were at the ride. 10 robot arms, 7 metres tall waiting for us to take our seat. Each arm has 2 seats, we sat down. The harness came down and locked in place for me … but … not for Adrian. The assistant came over and jumped up and down on the harness to make it click and lock in place but it just wasn’t happening. Adrian was too tall for the ride – obviously not made for real English men !
So, I went on it alone. There is a choice of levels – 1 being whimp and 3 being superhero. I chose 3 – OMG !
I may have screamed a little – but mostly laughed like a maniac!
After that we stopped for a sandwich and a beer by some playful fountains. There are plenty of eateries around the park which are good value for money. It was funny watching the kids run under the water arches before they collapsed. A few not making it !
We saw so much in the afternoon – I forget which order we did them but hey ho – here’s what we saw …
The Gyrotour is 45 metres high and offers a 360 degree view of the park. Everyone has a window seat and as the platform raises up into the sky it rotates to give you a full view over all of Futoroscope. It is a wondrous sight to see all the rides in context to the park – some truly futuristic buildings!
This Imax theatre is probably the most iconic of them all – it changed dramatically through the day as the sky and the light morphed each facet. The movie inside is called Everest and tells the story of the tragedy and euphoria of a team of mountaineers who risked their lives on the long climb to the top of Mount Everest.
All rides highlighted in red on the map are indicated as “attractions you won’t want to miss” – so we visited the Imagic theatre. The outside of the theatre is covered in 11,500 tremulous metal plates which undulate and ripple in the wind. I loved this as it is totally mesmerising.
Inside the magician and his assistants play to the crowd and get them fired up. The French love this kind of thing. I found it entertaining to watch the children’s faces and reactions to the tricks and illusions more than the illusions themselves.
Another 3D Imax movie – Cyberworld. An impish guide, Miss Phig , escorts you on a tour of a make believe world. But, 3 hungry bugs are eating their way through the computer circuits so Miss Phig has to save her virtual world. Outstanding graphics and 3D imagery.
I have never been to a planetarium so the Cosmic Collisions attraction was a must. With six 6,500-lumen projectors, the digital equipment used in this attraction optimises the image quality to create the illusion of 3D. The images are shown at a resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 pixels, giving viewers the powerful impression that they are immersed in the images. Just one word – Fantastic !
Futuroscope is in the Vienne department so we just had to go on the Dynamic Vienne ride. As the Vienne river gave its name to the département, architect Denis Laming gave the theatre a 2,194 m wall of water running down the large, rectangular sheets of glass that make up the front wall, which includes a trough to symbolise a flowing river. Unfortunately we were stood in the crowd management system so didn’t get a chance to take a photo.
The story is based on a bridegroom trying to get to his wedding on time. He rushes through the Vienne with the help of Guerliguet, an organic character cut from the bark of a solid oak. Once strapped into the dynamic seats we felt the speed, water, wind and more on this ride. I giggled like a child – loved it.
Our final ride was another Imax 3D movie – Sea Monsters. Sea Monsters is shot using a 70 mm film instead of conventional 35 mm film and we watched it wearing liquid crystal glasses. The story is about the life of a gigantic sea creature 82 million years ago. Again the 3D effects and quality of the film are stunning.
We then went off to one of the restaurants for a meal before the final spectacle. The Blue Note Mystery had both of us dumbstruck and watching with open mouthed wonderment. Lasers, giant images on water screens, and jets of flame and light are interwoven into a story involving real and imaginary characters.
Incredible and undoubtedly the best show of the day – a must to anyone visiting – wait for this spectacle before heading off home.
Giant lady metal statue waving goodbye as we departed
Overall a wonderful day. It wasn’t too crowded and the weather wasn’t too hot – I can imagine it can be a little overwhelming at peak times and in the heat of a summers day. There are some height restrictions on certain shows – minimum (and maximum too!). Very good facilities for disabled and people in wheelchairs and plenty of places to just sit and watch the world go by.
My only criticisms are :-
- the sound through the headsets on some of the spectacles is distorted and sometimes hard to hear the commentary
- no indication as to how long a wait for each ride – I can imagine this would be a nightmare at the height of the season and at peak times
- the exit management of the park is a little chaotic – returning headsets, paying for parking and too many people trying to exit too few entrances.
Would I recommend Futuroscope to others? Definitely, it was an informative, enjoyable and fun day.
(thanks to Jane for the tickets!)