France’s second most popular theme park (behind Disneyland Paris), Futuroscope attracts 37 million visitors a year and is just an 80-minute high-speed train ride from Paris to western France near the small city of Poitiers. Futuroscope also made a recent AOL Travel list of the 10 Coolest Theme Parks (China’s Kingdom of the Little People missed the cut.)
The latest attraction at Futuroscope is Arthur: The 4D Adventure, a collaboration with Luc Besson, one of France’s most famous film directors (The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita). The ride is based on Besson’s trilogy of children’s films, Arthur and the Minimoys, which were sort of a French version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Joanna Tweedy of the Daily Mail describes the experience:
a glass elevator … shoots up 40ft and offers panoramic views of the park leads through to another waiting area, where 3D glasses are dished out. When the doors to the cinema finally open, riders take their seats in one of two 25-seater ladybird carriages. A bar descends and the action begins. The IMAX film is played at 50 frames a second and you’re suddenly thrust into Arthur’s world. The 4D element is simple but effective – a breeze against the face heightens the sense of speed, spiders running riot onscreen appear all the more realistic when served up with a gentle brush to the back of the neck and being swallowed by a frog feels suitably disgusting when accompanied by a rasping belch and a spray of water.
Director Luc Besson’s take:
It’s one of the biggest parks in France and the film is huge in France. We have the film and we have the park…so we say “Can we do something?” and we say, yes we can. It’s a long process, we have to come here often! It’s pretty difficult but it’s five minutes and so we can handle it. Fortunately I’m not alone, there’s a company [BUF Compagnie] who made the 4D in the film plus the people from Futuroscope who are specialists with the movement of the cabin. It will be very unfair to say that we’re the best but I can say I’ve seen the attraction [that was there] before Arthur and I can honestly say that this one is much better.
Will other directors follow Besson’s lead? Harry Potter is coming to Orlando, can Avatar be far behind?