Location: Plailly, France
The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, roller coasters….wait, what? Roller coasters? In France? Sure! They are at Parc Astérix, an amusement park just north of Paris in Plailly, France. The park opened in 1989 and is under the management of Compagnies des Alpes. The park was originally funded in large part by Barclays Financial Company among numerous other investors.
Parc Astérix is well known for its variety of roller coasters all incorporating the themes from historical times and cultures. For example, the park is divided into six areas, each a different part of world history starting with an area called Travel Through Time. From there guests proceed through areas dedicated to the Vikings, Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and then they are welcomed to Gaul.
Parc Astérix is expansive with 35 attractions to fit just about every guest's tastes. Families with young children right to the thrill riders will enjoy the flat rides, water rides, roller coasters and the large variety of live shows the park has to offer. When Parc Astérix first opened, most tourists had not heard of it, but now with the park in close proximity to Disneyland Paris, it has benefited from the draw of visitors who come to the area planning to visit both parks.
The park theming is based on not only time travel through history, but also on the world of Astérix and his friend named Obélix. These characters are the protagonists in the Astérix books written in 1959 by French authors Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny. These graphic novels are arguably the most famous European graphic novels having sold over 350 million copies and have been translated into more than 125 different languages. Astérix and Obelix reside in the year 50 B.C. with their friends in the Village of the Gauls. The legend is that they defy Roman with the help of a magic potion that makes them invisible. And that is where the time travel, and all the fun, begins.
In 1989, two roller coasters in the park’s collection of rides were Goudurix, a Vekoma steel multi-looping roller coaster, and Ronde des Rondins, a small Zierer Tivoli model coaster. Only Goudurix remains in the park as Ronde des Rondins was relocated to Fraispertuis City Park in Jeanménil, Lorraine, France for the 2014 operating season. Goudurix, "Goût du risque," meaning, "The taste of danger," may be something riders should remember as they think about boarding the Vekoma looper. In response, riders may shout "Faites-moi peur!" meaning, "Go ahead and scare me!" as the Viking on the sign at the front of the ride says.
The park added another Zierer Tivoli model in 1990, a larger coaster than their first however. SOS Numerobis, formerly known as Périférix (after a circular highway around Paris) and Trans’Arverne became part of the park’s collection. Several years later, again pairing with Zierer, the park expanded their coaster collection by putting in a Hornet model coaster called Vol D'Icare, which is French for "Flight of Icarus". The coaster is based on the story of flying too high without regard for the advice he received not to do so, the wax on his wings melting and falling subsequently to his death into the sea below. The theming of the ride includes a representation of the sun situated at the top of the lift. The descent of the riders on the track represents Icarus’s fall to the sea.
1997 was a great year for the park as they increased park attendance. Perhaps that was in part due to the addition of a Custom Coasters International wooden coaster called Tonnerre de Zeus, which means "Thunder of Zeus." This 98 foot tall, nearly 3,000 foot long wooden has two massive helices to keep riders thrilled. In 2004, the coaster received two brand new PTC trains as well.
In 2001, the park added a bobsled roller coaster. However, the theme Trace du Hourra is a bit unusual. The Mack Rides bob is themed to a cave man who learns to walk on two feet and is so excited he runs around shouting "Hourra" (Hurray) to let everyone know. The roller coaster’s track is the trail he runs. The track is painted brown and not white like most “winter themed” bobsled roller coasters.
The most recent roller coaster addition to the park, among other flat rides and water rides, is a Bolliger and Mabillard inverted steel coaster called OzIris. This coaster was added to enhance the Egyptian area of the park. Riders can expect five inversions on this roller coaster, including two zero-g rolls.
Most people don’t think about roller coasters, thrill rides, and theme parks when they think about France. Think again, as Parc Astérix will definitely be a day not to forget! Oui! Oui!
©1998-2016 COASTER-net.com, All Rights Reserved.