Friday, 20 April 2012

Nantes' theme park economics at Machines de L'Ile


It was a gamble, but in 2004 the City of Nantes in western France decided to take it. Using funds from regional government and from the European Union, it invested 10m euros (£8.4m; $13.3m) in Machines de L'Ile.
The idea was to create a theme park based around giant mechanical animals. Making their own parts, engineers and artists would build the huge contraptions in a converted warehouse.
Visitors would be able to watch the machines being constructed and ride on the completed ones.

The park would also be the anchor of a much larger plan to regenerate a run-down part of Nantes that had been in decay since the closure of the dockyards in 1987.
Pierre Orefice is one of the two creators of the Machines de L'Ile. He had years of experience in producing outdoor theatre and, perhaps more importantly, the confidence of the city mayor, who approved the investment.
Pierre and his partner in the project, Francois Delaroziere, were convinced the project would be a success if they could create a broad appeal.
"In the Disney and Asterix parks, the parents are spectators, they don't have the same emotion as their kids," Pierre said.
"We were sure there should not be separation from the world of children and adults. It was very important that a parent could enjoy the experience as much as the children."
Pricey pachyderm
Almost a decade later and the gamble seems to be paying off. The star attraction, a 12m-tall (39ft) elephant which stomps around the park spraying water, is a huge hit.

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