Being a travel blogger means you get to read a tonne of articles by other bloggers from around the world and before we started planning our recent Summer roadtrip I already had a few things in mind that I wanted to see or do due to great blogs that I follow. It was hard narrowing it down to just a handful of stops and unfortunately some things, like my desire to photograph an abandoned church at dawn in Normandy, were not high on the kids list of stuff they’d be interested in! I just don’t get them sometimes. However, when I started telling them about Futuroscope in Vienne, France, I think I was singing their tune. At first glance it reminded me of Matt Groening’s Futurama and I got slightly excited at the futuristic possibilities of rides that we would encounter, I was thinking an Epcot style theme park but slightly smaller scale. However, with further exploration they were marketing it as a theme park of amazing cinematic experiences, listing 3D and 4D as just some of the entertainment on show. So was it the kind of place that would keep my family entertained all day? Well we thought we’d give it a try.
The Problem With Reviews
So off we trot, the kids with no expectations whatsoever – just happy to not be doing the Da Vinci tour in Amboise (I am so going back for that sans kids by the way) and me slightly nervous that I’d totally misread Futuroscope and was committing the whole family to a theme park disaster. Also, I should mention at this point that there was a point in my 20’s, when we had no TV, that I got slightly addicted to playing the game ‘Theme Park’ on the PC (there’s 6 months I’ll never get back!) and I cannot help myself in being critical of these places, like I could run them so much better myself. I wish I could just let go and enjoy the experience fully but instead you will find me picking up litter and wanting to micro-manage the adolescent with acne who fastens my seatbelt for me. I can’t help it. So do you want to hear my evaluation of Futuroscope? Here goes…
My Futuroscope Review…
I’d been forewarned about the lack of English signage and translatable information and they were kind of right because from the minute you step into the park, it’s pretty much French all the way. And, why wouldn’t it be? This be France and they be French people. Besides, the staff at the information centre were most helpful with their directions and all spoke excellent English, no problem.
There is a lot to see and most rides have a 30 minute-plus waiting time so we planned with accuracy where and when to be as some of the shows are only on every hour or so and stick to a schedule. The actual park itself is beautiful though and everything eye-catching. It certainly was like Futurama but mixed with a botanical garden at the same time. I personally would have been happy just wandering with my camera for an hour or two because the buildings are full of glass and shiny steel, leaving so many opportunities for amazing photographs but alas, yet again the kids won and we starting queuing for rides.
We visited in the first week of August and it really didn’t feel that busy at all, which was very lovely when you were on the outside, meandering the landscaped pathways in between rides. However, the minute you entered a building for a show or a ride, it was a different story. I felt conned that I’d been made to feel relaxed and serene outdoors only to have it all whipped away from me inside, where hundreds of people queued and shuffled and shuffled and queued till it was their turn to be fastened in and enlightened. That said, it was 30 degrees outside and the air con was a welcomed break.
One of my biggest gripes with theme parks in the UK has always been that the queues are so boring; nothing to look at, terrible musak playing on sound systems they borrowed from 1950 and snaking queuing layouts that at best mirror the patterns of cattle on working farms, at worst – zombies. Not Futuroscope. Mr Futuroscope has obviously played my computer game too and has installed entertainment to make your wait seem shorter. My particular favourite was the wait for Dances With Robots – a huge 20 foot screen playing current pop videos á la MTV. Fortunately for us French pop is garbage and they choose to listen to English tunes, unfortunately for us they went with the uncensored versions and most songs had expletives in them. Thankfully the unfamiliar swear words went over the youngests head and the older two saw the irony just like us!
The Best Rides At Futuroscope
- After a democratic family vote we all agreed that Choc Cosmiques was our favourite, it started out soothing then you were thinking ‘was that it?’, next thought was ‘aw man, that was terrible awful’ but by the end the twists and turns made it pure genius. I really can’t give much away without spoiling the experience – just make sure it’s one of the rides you definitely do do! And to top it off we stepped out of the theatre and bumped into the real-life character who’d featured in the film, I’m not sure if my kids were thrilled or petrified, decide for yourselves…
- Arthur L’aventure 4D definitely came a close 2nd as it was 4D at it’s best – a very bumpy aircraft ride through giant swarms of insects and trouble, as my mum would say; ‘it shakes your puddings out’, a north-east colloquialism for battered internal organs due to too many gyrations. You’re pretty out of breath by the end of it.
- Dances With Robots (or Danse Avec Les Robots) was also a bone shaker. Have a peek first to see if it’s your kinda thing because the queue can be long here due to it being one of people’s favourites. Basically you’re at the mercy of giant robot arms and once you’re fastened in they move you to the music in every direction fathomable. Like I said earlier, the wait time is seemingly reduced due to the MTV screen and also a game which splits the queue into two teams – very clever. Alton Towers take note!
- It wouldn’t be fair to not put L’extraordinaire Voyage in this list – think Air at Alton Towers but cinema style. You fly with your legs dangling on an epic journey around the world. Definitely makes you want to hit up the RyanAir website once you’ve disembarked.
So they are our top four but we totally loved cooling off in the water fountains and water misted archways and I especially loved the retro side of Le Monde Des Enfants – an open air collection of mini-rides which suit all age groups, are a little bit different and didn’t require as much queueing.
As for the evening shows, this is what you should be here to see! Stay as late as you can and take them all in if possible. On the day we were there the final spectacle, La Forge Aux Etoiles, was scheduled for 10.15pm. A late show but after a day of being entertained from every angle, these guys will finish the experience off nicely, worth waiting up for.
Tips and Information
- I would recommend the park for families with children from 8 – 14 years
- Brings a picnic because not only are the reasonably priced restaurants and cafes very busy around lunch time, there are dozens of lovely spots around the park to sit down and eat. I love all the outdoor beans bags that look like they have been randomly dropped from the sky, but happily people were using them. Plus there is plenty of shade as there are trees everywhere. Ice creams are very reasonably priced too.
- Don’t bother with the earphone translator that you can pick up from reception – on the rides where there was the option to use it the quality of sound was poor and you didn’t need it anyway, the stories are pretty self explanatory.
- There are drinking water fountains at several places around the park, but not every where, so when you see one, refill. I would have liked to have seen them marked on the park map.
- Decide in advance which rides you want to aim for and plan around show times because if you wander aimlessly you won’t get the best of it.
- French schools go back the third week in August so you could reduce your queue time even more if you decided to visit then.
- Download their app to check on queue wait times and show times.
- There is a reduced rate ticket if you just want to visit for the evening, €20 for an adult €16 child, from 5pm.
- The translator kits are free but headphones are £3 so take your own (make sure they don’t have mouth pieces on them, these kind won’t work)
- Parking is an extra £7
- There are plenty of hotel chains just outside of the park for all budgets.
Is Futuroscope Worth The Ticket Price Then? (Adult €45!)
I’m going to say yes, but only if you do it right I think. Stay on site at one of the hotels so a) you waive the parking cost and b) you can go back to your hotel in the afternoon for a rest and come back for the shows on the evening. To say we went when it was French school holidays, 30 minutes queuing for rides isn’t too bad I don’t think. Don’t go thinking all the rides are epic – they’re not. Some definitely are and the rest are just pleasantly entertaining. Enjoy the gardens and landscaping and marvel at the futuristic elements of it all – the place is definitely pleasing on the eyes and that I did enjoy. This is all from a woman who hasn’t payed full price for a theme park ticket in years, so the entrance fee is bound to make me wince but actually, when you consider it’s competitors and how beautiful and well run the place is, I guess it is worth the cost.
I hope I have helped if you are considering a trip to Futuroscope in the near future and if you have any more questions be sure to drop me a line and I will try to help. In the meantime, if you are looking for the best deals on nearby hotels to Futuroscope then check here.
Disclaimer: I was given complimentary park tickets for my family in exchange for an honest review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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