In the quiet Vienne region of France, a group of indomitable Gauls have turned their backs on the influence of globalisation with its identical theme parks and franchises to come up with a singular project: Futuroscope. Unique as it is, however, it still has all the thrill and adventure of its commercial cousins. After all, what could be more exciting than being propelled into the future?
This is precisely what the French theme park offers with a host of attractions related to science and technology. This year, visitors will be exposed to the boundary between humans and machines, which is becoming increasingly thin thanks to android robots we can interact with to the point that somehow it seems they can even interpret our feelings.
Artificial intelligence is a constant presence in the exhibition, which departs from the conventions of museums and more often than not resembles a games room. If all goes as the exhibition predicts, AI will help make our lives easier, whether it is planning our journey to work or advising us what clothes will best suit the day ahead.
Then there is dealing with computers, which is becoming more intuitive and less cumbersome thanks to voice recognition and biometric tools that, along with deep learning, will help our machines to get to know us better and anticipate our wishes. We will even be able to recreate our day-to-day living environment, changing it at will from, for example, a Manhattan loft to a rainforest treehouse surrounded by singing birds.
Encouraging creativity and imagination has always been among the aims of the park and it has a section devoted solely to this, with 3D printing and virtual reality, two technologies which will make their marks in coming years. Here, it is all about being hands-on.
Traditionally, the park has to offer outstanding experiences that are fun and educational at the same time. So far in 2016 it has remained true to this spirit. An example is the new 3D film, The Law of the Strongest. Bearing the seal of quality guaranteed by BBC Earth, it shows the adventures of a mouse in the Sonoran Desert and a squirrel in a Nordic forest, thanks to a renovated Imax cinema with a new 4K laser video system.
National Geographic, another assurance of quality, is behind one of this year's novelties aimed at making us aware of everything that escapes our main sense. Mysteries of the Unseen World shows visitors the amazing microscopic phenomena we do not see around us, and is housed under the dome of one of the unique buildings that make up the park. In fact, the spectacular architecture of the Futuroscope buildings is itself a feature, as each is different and impresses in its own way.
However, at Futuroscope 3D is not enough, so welcome to 4D. Amazing video mapping with the collaboration of Cirque du Soleil in a nightly show, La Forge aux étoiles. Visitors also get to experience scenes from the silver screen in real time and learn how films such as Minimoys by Luc Besson are made.
Futuroscope is magical, but in 2016, it steps into the future.
Futuroscope was founded in 1987 near the city of Poitiers in the hope of bringing new life to a predominantly agricultural area. It is an innovative proposal that provides an outstanding level of immersion thanks to the confluence of the latest innovations in robotics and film. Today, it is the second most visited theme park in the country, with more than 1.8 million visitors a year. The park administration has a policy of reinvesting 10% of the turnover each year and into renewing 20% of the attractions. As a result, the park is in a state of constant evolution. In addition, next season, Futurescope will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a new attraction set around the figure of Jules Verne which will doubtlessly be spectacular, as will the experience a flight of five minutes for 84 people, all at once. With a budget of €13 million it is the most expensive investment the park has ever made.