Bienvenue en France! Home to quite some theme parks, but only a few that will appeal to theme park fans. Even though it isn’t a coaster country, France has five of the top 25 most visited parks in Europe. The first park that comes to mind when talking about France is of course Disneyland Paris. The Disney resort in Europe has got the best-known classics with their own unique features and also some exclusive rides. In the main gate, Disneyland Park, you can ride a Big Thunder Mountain on an island, the only Space Mountain (Mission 2) in the world with inversions and the classic dark rides like Pirates of the Caribbean (to date the only one without Jack Sparrow) and Phantom Manor (Europe’s version of Haunted Mansion, but easier to pronounce by the French) cannot be missed as well. Let’s not forget the unique Sleeping Beauty Castle where every evening, guests can enjoy the dazzling Disney Dreams! The second park at the resort is the Walt Disney Studios. Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and (famous for its queue) Crush’s Coaster create a fun filled day at the Studio themed park. Next to some exclusive shows, it recently got a unique dark ride: Ratatouille: L’Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy. With about 10 million visitors each year, Disneyland Paris is the most visited park/resort in Europe.
The thrill park of the country is Parc Astérix. Themed to the comic character Astérix, it’s a complete park with an incredible B&M Inverted Coaster: Oziris! Besides that, who doesn’t know Goudérix, famous for its many inversions (and painful experience?). A third park worth mentioning is Futuroscope. It doesn’t have any coasters but it’s known all over the country because of its unique architectural style and its many digital-based and interactive attractions. But if you can’t resist coasters, Walygator Parc, has The Monster, a copy of Cedar Point’s Raptor. The park was recently taken over by new management and it is growing towards being a must-do destination again. Finally, there’s the family park Nigloland, where you cannot miss out on their Mack Mega-coaster: Alpina Blitz.
Smaller parks on the France list are the Walibi parks: Walibi Rhône-Alpes and Walibi Sud-Ouest. This last park will no longer be a Walibi park as it has been taken over by Aspro. Other parks include Fraispertuis City which is a western themed park with an excellent El Loco from S&S, Le Pal with it’s Mack spinning coaster and Bagatelle with its Vekoma Inverted Boomerang (Invertigo) coaster.
As there are not a lot of major parks, the industry keeps growing. Recently, Parc du Petit Prince opened and two more parks are set to open in the near future: Spirou Parc (inspired by comic characters Spirou, Lucky Luke and Marsupilami) and Heroic Land (expected to be a large park near Calais, the city known for its ferry connection with the UK). A final park worth mentioning is Puy de Fou, the second major destination in France. It is an amusement park with no attractions, but it offers spectacular shows of very high quality, which attracts 2 million visitors each year. So there you have France… France is a very strange country when it comes to theme parks, but the ones that stand out need to be included on your to-do list.