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Thrills, the magic potion of Parc Astérix

Vtwenty-five years since he had changed his underpants. The gigantic statue of the Greek god Zeus which marks the entrance to one of the flagship attractions of Parc Astérix (Plailly, Oise), whose flowery briefs have been admired by millions of visitors as they pass under its skirt, has been adorned with this Saturday, May 14, new pink underwear… adorned with yellow ducks. A micro-event for those who do not carefully follow the lingerie trends of Olympus, especially intended to mark a revolution for the amusement park: the mythical Tonnerre de Zeus – now called Tonnerre 2 Zeus – offered itself a second youth, with a brand new course.

Since its opening in 1997, the wooden roller coaster has always been placed in the top 3 favorite attractions for visitors. But she had aged. So, for the past three years, the park has been busy every winter rebuilding parts of the course. Before the final transformation in 2022. New, more comfortable trains, increased speed, 90-degree banked turn, special effects tunnel and no less than 17 airtimes (those moments when we take off from the seat). “More than 85% of the course has been modified”, specifies Guy Vassel, deputy general manager of Parc Astérix. A 7 million euro project, led by Gravity Group, an American company specializing in this type of coaster.

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The return of the shows

Touching an attraction so popular with visitors was a daring bet, recognizes the Gallic deputy chef, relieved from the first laps: “Everyone tells us that it’s great! The seats are indeed more comfortable, the sensations increased tenfold by the speed, the airtimes and this 90 degree turn where you almost feel like you’re flying. And for the die-hards for whom that’s not enough, the last row of the train is… upside down! Count eight euros to access the experience in reverse (and cut the queue on the way).

The 2022 season also marks the great return of shows that have been battered by health restrictions over the past two years. Visitors find the impressive and legendary waterfalls of Hands down on the Mona Lisa – played for the first time in 1996 – and discover some street entertainment and above all a new parade, with Asterix and Obelix of course, but also Caesar and Cleopatra. Before a new high-flying diving show in June in the old dolphinarium.

30 million euros invested in 2023

The pandemic – which has cut off the start of the park’s season for two years in a row – seems behind and Asterix is ​​benefiting from the growing appeal of the French for leisure parks. Attendance should return to the 2019 record (2.3 million), which should probably be exceeded if we stick to the strong start. “The trend is good”, smiles Guy Vassel, who is delighted to note that “expenditure per visitor is higher than before Covid”. From next year, the park plans to open more days, especially on weekdays in May, and wants to strengthen its Christmas season by offering more indoor activities, after having made its Halloween season a success which fills the park every October. To reinforce its strategy of becoming a short-stay destination, Asterix is ​​also considering building a fourth hotel – two have already been built in four years – to increase its capacity, which currently has 450 rooms.

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Surprises, the irreducible Gauls still have some in stock, and the next tip is the end of its rail at the edge of the park. This is the course of Toutatis, a roller coaster on the theme of the Gallic god planned for 2023. On the program: double propulsion of the trains, arrow 50 meters high, 23 airtimes – a world record – and a few other surprises. “It’s been since 2012 that we haven’t added any attractions of very great importance, since Oziris [une montagne russe suspendue, NDLR], explains Guy Vassel. So we wanted something unique in Europe… We will finally have a unique attraction in the world! “A very heavy investment at more than 30 million euros, which also includes a restaurant, a shop, a playground and another merry-go-round for the less adventurous. By Toutatis, one wonders if they are indeed the craziest Romans in this story…

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