After the Futuroscope near the French city of Poitiers quickly developed into one of the most successful theme parks in the country, the Grévin & Cie Group planned a similarly oriented park in 1993, where the theme “Man and Nature” was to be dealt with in various pavilions (similar to a world exhibition). It was not until 13 years later, and now under the Compagnie des Alpes, that the Bioscope near the French city of Mulhouse was put into reality with the help of public funds (which brought the park into criticism quite early on). Unfortunately, the number of visitors did not meet expectations, so that after only six years CdA sold the park to Aerophile SAS, a manufacturer of captive balloons and other observation flights. They redesigned the park around the stories of the author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whose great-nephew and estate administrator first gave them the idea. Since the summer of 2014, visitors have been able to experience the world of the little prince up close in the Parc du Petit Prince.
The Parc du Petit Prince describes itself as the world’s first and only flying park, which is probably mainly due to the two captive balloons and the Aérobar. Interestingly, this was usually done by the simplest means, e.g. the impact crater in the centre of the park, around which the Parc du Petit Prince is arranged in several circles, was supplemented by the asteroid B-612, i.e. the home of the little prince.
We now start our round in a clockwise direction, where we are immediately greeted by the wave swinger Les Chaises Volantes from Zierer. This is the first classic ride was the first flat ride of the park and was installed here for the reopening of the park. Directly next to it is the Courrier Sud, an interactive walkthrough where you have to answer various questions by standing on the corresponding field on the ground or, later on, by using your hands. In Bioscope’s time, this attraction was known as the Planète Party, which describes the actual game inside a little better. A great game!
If you follow the paths, you will soon find yourself in a short cul-de-sac, where you will find the Volcano, a covered children’s playground with various bouncy castles, but also this year’s novelty Le Serpent and the Petit Train station.
The ride on the roller coaster Le Serpent begins with a small right turn, after which the 9m high lift hill is quickly climbed. After a short straight line at a lofty height, the train plunges down a right turn. After a flat hill there is now a wide left turn, which crosses under the lift towards the end. This is followed by a slightly undulating right turn, where you enter an oversized tree trunk. You leave the tree trunk under hissing of a snake and immediately find yourself in the braking section of the roller coaster. After another short right turn the station follows. However, for the time being you only cross the station. In the following second session you will get to know the snake that gives the roller coaster its name and all kinds of water mist.
As the two captive balloons had to stay on the ground because of the strong wind, we only had the Aérobar du Buveur, i.e. the air bar of the drunkard, left to observe the park from above. This is a very interestingly constructed observation tower, where the passengers sit around a table with dangling feet. As an interesting gimmick, you can and should take drinks and food to the top, but there is no obligation to do so.
In the former Bioscope Pavilion Métamorphose, during a film screening, you can observe the various stages of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. There are also several butterfly houses in the immediate vicinity. On the wide meadows at the rear of the park, the park also has several animal enclosures and a dovecote. The animals are presented at regular intervals, but have plenty of room to retreat if necessary.
The Planète Sous-Marine 4D features an interactive theatre by the manufacturer Alterface, similar to the Desperados ride at the Danish amusement park Bakken, where you can sit on moving vehicles and shoot at the screen with pistols. Interestingly, the original film has already been reworked slightly to take into account the characters from the Petit Prince universe, but the realisation is not yet 100% ideal.
The neighbouring Petit Théâtre hosts two puppet shows during the season. Le Petit Prince et la Cigogne focuses on the park’s younger audience, while L’Aviateur vous raconte is also dedicated to older audiences.
Past the cable car roller coaster La Tyrolienne, which was still in maintenance at the time of our visit, we were drawn into the park’s huge 3D cinema, where the worth seeing film Le Petit Prince 3D (among others also in German) is shown. Together with the main character of the park and his best friend the fox, you travel around different planets in search of his rose.
Next to the cinema hall, the log flume Atlantique Sud by the French manufacturer Soquet is currently under construction. This is characterised by a single, but quite high shot and promises a wet and cheerful ride.
Right next to it is a rose garden, as well as the maze Labyrinthe de la Fontaine, in which you can not only lose your way mercilessly later on in the tour, but also get the fountain at the end of the path running by entering a solution word. The individual components of the solution can be found under the statues of each person from the corresponding universe. Here it is recommended to have actually read the little prince at some point.
The small fun house Vol de nuit, the children’s carousel Aérousel, and the trampoline hall Trampoline Park in the entrance building sometimes complete the park’s offer. And this is, without exaggerating, simply great. The Parc du Petit Prince is an extremely professional amusement park, where you can look forward to the future with justifiable anticipation. At least we had a very successful afternoon here, where we even had a very short time to get everything done in time, as there seems to be another surprise at every corner. The entrance fee of the park is very fair, so a visit is recommended without any restrictions, but you should spend a little more time here and if necessary read the book before, it’s worth it!
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