Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mirapolis (1988 - 1991)





'Mira refers to the idea of mirror of the infinite, eternal and all symbolic thereto. Polis means the size of cities and ancient kingdoms. It is reminiscent of fabulous adventure ... and future.' -- Anne Fourcade


'The first grand scale theme park ever built in France, Mirapolis was located at Cergy Pontoise, a city 30 miles northwest of Paris. With a surface area of 220 acres, this amusement park opened in 1987. It featured up to 45 attractions. With its immense Gargantua statue, the world's second largest hollow figurative structure after the Statue Of Liberty, Mirapolis was recognizable from miles away. So why did this park last only 5 years ? First of all, the huge expanse of the park proved to be a very bad idea. The several roller coasters were located too far from each other, and people had to walk so far they found it annoying. Also, during the first year of operation, workers from nearby fairgrounds, angered by the competition, protested and sabotaged the park, distributing thousands of fake entrance tickets as well as breaking into the park to physically damage the buildings and attractions and physically attack the workers and visitors, causing Mirapolis to suffer huge financial losses. Within two years, the park's owner filed a petition for bankruptcy. One year later, the park, already a skeleton of itself, closed for good. In 1995, the Gargantua statue’s head threatened to fall down and was dynamited.' -- The Lost France












































Genesis

1982: American architect and theme park designer Anne Fourcade, formerly a higher up at Disneyland, proposes to build the first French amusement park in the city of Cergy Pointoise near Paris.
1984: Saudi businessman Gaith Pharaon decides to invest in the project. The budget is estimated at 500 million francs (more than 76 million euros).
1985: The theme park, now named Mirapolis, is green lit. The Society of Economic Studies and Strategy Consulting announces that France is very favorable to the emergence of theme parks and provide a bright future for the profession.
15 July 1985: Beginning of the construction of the park.
28 October 1986: Installation of the head of Gargantua, 11 m high, 28 tons.
May 20: Mirapolis is officially opened by Prime Minister Jacques Chirac . The park is open 10 hours a day and 200 days per year. It is forecast that between 2 and 2.5 million visitors will visit the park per year which corresponds to a turnover of 300 million francs (more than 45 million euros). The park could have, in theory, balanced its operations this year.
May 21: Mirapolis opens to the public. Entry costs 100 francs (15 €) per adult and 70 francs (10 €) per child. On this first day, 15 hours of violent incidents and acts of sabotage occur. 150 local fairground workers force their way into the park denouncing "unfair competition". They are armed with iron bars and clubs and destroy several facilities. There are 10 serious injuries, 650,000 francs of damage (99 000 €), and one million francs worth of commercial harm (152,500 euros). There are 3,000 visitors the first day.
May 22: Only 300 individual tickets are sold.
May 23: 10,000 visitors, half of which are at reduced group rate.
May 24: 1500 people come to the park entrance with fake invitation cards that had been distributed the day before by angry local fairground workers. The workers dump nails on the highway that leads to Mirapolis.
June: After 15 days of operation, there are only about 100,000 visitors when 150,000 had been expected. Moreover, it is mainly school groups with restricted rates.
October: Mirapolis closes its doors after a disappointing first season. It has drawn 600,000 of the expected 2.5 million visitors. There is a 20 million francs (3 million euros) loss. Anne Fourcade Anne withdraws from the project.





1988

May 12: Opening day after a further 100 million francs (15 million 245 €) investment. The singer Carlos occurs every Sunday in the park for four months. Now, the park offers more than 45 attractions. Admission prices revised downwards to 75 francs (11.5 €). New attractions include a 4-D cinema, a flight simulator rider, a large lake, a carousel-type ride called Balloon Race, and one of the largest roller coasters in Europe (Miralooping).
October: Season 2 ends with one million visitors. Slight improvement over the first season, but 1.2 million visitors had been necessary to recoup.





1989

April 1: Opening of the third season. There are eleven new attractions including a second roller coaster and a Ferris wheel at a cost of 30 million francs (more than 4.5 million euros). Entrance fees: 110 francs (16.75 euros) per adult and 80 francs (12 euros) per child.
April 30: The inauguration of Parc Asterix, a direct competitor.
July 11: In an attempt to draw attention to the park and increase revenues, a major boxing event is held there, attended by many stars (Yannick Noah, Jean-Paul Belmondo, etc.). The operation is a fiasco. The French boxer René Jacquot, defending the title of world champion, is knocked out in the first few seconds of the first round. In addition, the match is prematurely interrupted by a power outage.
November: Season 3 ends. Annual attendance has fallen to 640,000 visitors.
December 21: the appointment of an administrator, Ms. Jeanne Bertrand. The park's accumulated debt is 85 million francs (13 million euros).





1990

January 8: An additional 15 million euros is invested in the park.
January 22: The owner of the park, the company Paris-Parc, files for bankruptcy with 330 million francs in liabilities (50 million euros).
March: The Mirapolis site is pre-selected for as a possible location for the future Stade de France along with twenty-five other sites. The stadium would be built on the site of the park.
April 7: Mirapolis opens in confusion. A third of the park is closed for the entirety of the season. 420,000 visitors are expected this year. Price changed again: 100 francs (15 €) per adult and 75 francs (11.50 € ) per child.





1991

March 23: Mirapolis opens for its fifth season without changing prices.
Oct. 20: This is the end. Last day operating Mirapolis. The park closes at 18:30 permanently. This year, 400,000 visitors passed through the doors.
End 1991 : Crédit National Park, the park's last buyer, withdraws in the face of the imminent arrival of EuroDisney. The amusement park Mirapolis has ceased to exist, despite the 700 million francs (106 million euros) invested.





Extinction

1992: Contrary to rumor, no attraction is left open this year. The attractions are dismantled and sold to amusement parks in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Park Berlin Spreepark acquires thirteen Mirapolis attractions.
12 April 1992: Disneyland Paris opens. It precipitates the end of the operation of Mirapolis in view of the competition it represents.
31 December 1992: Following the end of the lease, Mirapolis becomes an industrial wasteland.
13 October 1993: The company Cergy-park, the park's owner, obtains a demolition permit.
31 August 1995: the statue of Gargantua is partially dismantled and blown up. This is the end.




















*

p.s. Hey. Wow, quiet around here. So, I'm back, very temporarily. Tomorrow morning, I go to Switzerland for a long weekend, and, due to the nature of said trip, doing the p.s. while there is kind of unrealistic. After today's p.s., there will be posts sans p.s.es until Tuesday whereupon the p.s. will return and everything will get normalized around here again. Tomorrow, you will get a quite fantastic new post. On Saturday and Monday, you'll get rerun posts that I hope you will be happy to see again or for the first time. I apologize for these unusual, almost consecutive interruptions to the blog flow, and I will catch up with all of the comments you leave in the next several days when I'm back on board next Tuesday.  Speaking of ... ** Tuesday ** Misanthrope, You're a good, forward-thinking Unc. Well, I hope the choreography of the Undertaker's return involves him winning yet again. Probably, right? The 20th?! But, yeah, what can you do? That's power hierarchies in general for you. ** Cobaltfram, Hi, John. Ha ha, a few seconds of that mash-up was enough, but ha ha, yes. ** David Ehrenstein, Riley is the man. Or one of them. Yes, Russia is literally worsening significantly by the day right now. As Yury says, it's very hard to wake Russians sufficiently up so as to understand that they have the power to do serious damage to their government, but, when they do, watch out. Can only hope that moment is arriving. ** Lizz Brady, Hi, Lizz. Bruges was very nice and fun. Mm, I'm not sure if I would make a special trip to go there. I mean, it's pretty and weirdly clean, but it didn't seem like a eventful, necessary place. Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam sounds really good. All three of those cities are great and really different from one another both in looks and culturally and all that. Yeah, nice trio, I think. I didn't get to check on Buten yet because I'm so in-transit right now, but asap for sure. That search is locked in. Writing rut, me too. It'll dissipate 'cos ruts always do, but I hate when writing gets all sulky and all 'I want to be alone for a while', don't you? ** Will C., Oh, only one 'so bad it's good' recommendation. People are being very quiet here. Strange. And I haven't gotten a rec. list together on my end either. I will, and hopefully you won't be through that phase yet. ** Tender prey, Hi, Marc! Thank you a lot. Yeah, I was happy about that post, so, yeah, cool. Intense start in the best way, I hope? I'll see you really soon, right? Yay! ** 5STRINGS, 'Living the life' is such a weird phrase. That 'the' always refers to something that involves being a master of capitalism or something. You're living a life. Me too. Right, we were on top that very tower where the guy jumped in the movie. Well, not on the very top because they don't let you go up there. You thought 'In Bruges' was a comedy movie title? I guess the word' Bruges' sounds kind of funny. ** Wolf, Wolf! Dude, so glad you liked it. Me too. I should do more posts like that. If nothing else, I'll have less comments to go through, ha ha. Same page, yes! And so soon on the same turf, yes? Yes! ** Grant Scicluna, Hi, Grant! Thank you, man. So cool that you finally got the Bresson bible. Well, I suspect that Bresson is in everything here and that I do in general in some way. Yep, I can link you to Bresson's 'NoC' right .... now. Wow, weird about the classification system there. I guess I have this romanticized image of you guys being all laid back and smiley. But then that's the image that has accrued around people from LA, which isn't true either. Good, no, great of you to start and carry through on that fight. And the community film project sounds really spectacular and beautifully thought through. You're doing really good, man, at least as seen from the outside. Things with me are really good and exciting these days. I'm doing great. It's nice, and thank you for asking. Think of you often too, G. ** Bill, We were. 'In', I mean. Bruges is pretty. It's clean, almost spooky Disneyland-style clean. Really glad you liked the post. Oh, so, how was that super eclectic sounding event? Really hard to imagine it in full.  Hard in a really good way. ** Sypha, Then I was thinking about some other Ramsey or Campbell because my mom definitely didn't read horror lit. ** Dynomoose, Understood about your impatience. Surely, they're in your hands and being sold like crazy by now. How good Girl Scout Cookies are is weirdness. I like you as a co-troop leader. I can totally envision that. I mean that as a total compliment, mind you. Aw, in other words. Ooh, DNA stuff, thank you. You are totally my Santa now. ** Wednesday ** Misanthrope, Snow! We're definitely done with snow over here, I think. No, definitely. I think there'll be some snow in my long weekend, though. Maybe that's just my half-brained Swiss assumption. Probably. Have a superb weekend, buddy. ** David Ehrenstein, Lovely long weekend to you! ** Statictick, Hi, N. Oh, I know you weren't. I was just being, I don't know, not wittily witty or something? It happened again?! Okay, yeah, tell me whatever you want/can when you want/can. Love to you! ** Steevee, Hey. Hm, I feel like I must have read interestingly written things about that, but I can't think of any specifics. Anyway, you seem to aced the gig perfectly without the input. Great, I look forward to reading it. ** S./5STRINGS, Yeah, I noticed your blog is a goner. Weird. I'll look for the writing repost then. Early spring cleaning? I enjoyed Belgium, thank you, and I should be able to say the same about Switzerland, I think. Make the most of whatever falls between now and Tuesday, man. ** James, Hi, James. It's doing me a world of good, literally. Yes, in fact, we went to Bruges' Chocolate Museum, so we not only ate, we learned while eating. Or we learned just prior to eating. We went to the French Fries Museum too. Same deal. Four days of awesomeness to you, pal. ** Okay. That seems to be all of you who showed up at the blog's train station to bid me or the p.s. or whatever a short-term farewell. Thank you to you and greetings to the quieter folks, and I hope you all have splendid weekends both here and elsewhere. Today, I leave you with a memorial to a French theme park that died before my time as a quasi-Parisian. Enjoy maybe, and watch for some hopefully cool posts in the next few days, and I'll see you guys full-fledged-style again on Tuesday.

18 comments:

Scunnard said...

Hi Dennis, classic post here with Mirapolis. I like the arm-shaped atrium part in both the before and after sequences and that there is a building called Les Robots. Nice failed utopia look to it all. How was Bruges? We can catch the ferry over from around here, so it’s probably one of those weekend trips we’ll make at some point. Say hello to Switzerland for me. I could go in June, but have so much going on and a bit of a lack of funds… so may not go this year and just focus on finishing things up?

Misanthrope said...

Dennis, That big guy with the wine glass is hella creepy. Kind of like the eyes on the billboard in Gatsby.

Sadly, Paul Bearer died yesterday. Or the day before. For real, not fake. He was 58. I wonder where the Undertaker is gonna get his power from now...

So what kind of art(s) does Zac do? You should do a post on it here. I'm interested to see what he's into.

Have fun in Switzerland. Snowball fight! Though I'm sure we're done with snow here too. 50s and 60s here the rest of the way for a while, it seems.

Oh, so I just started the new Will Self, "Umbrella." I'm only 9 pages in, but...wow. I know you don't like him, but I think he's written something pretty stellar here.

Bollo said...

Hi Dennis

geez just missed you again : ) i want to visit those food museums you went too although chocolate after the fries! some foodly delights will be had in Switzerland i assume?

not much to report over here, plowing ideas through my brain right now hoping the good one stick, been reading Carver's 'things we talk about...' which i enjoyed and re-reading Perec's 'Attempt...' which im using as a basis to make a piece maybe.

mostly working on pieces for the next shows which are coming soon.

oh did you see the new texte zur kunst is a Mike Kelley issue? http://www.textezurkunst.de/89/ gonna have to get this.

cobaltfram said...

Hey Dennis,

I wonder if it's even possible these days to sustain a theme park that's not directly tied into some larger media franchise: Disneyland, or the Looney Toons of Six Flags, or, I'm assuming, the Asterix empire of Parc Asterix. To have a park trying to operate under it's own mythology seems...quaint? The blown-out remnants remind me of the photos of the New Orleans Six Flags post-Katrina -- you saw those, right?

I'm back on JG Ballard's 'Crash', after a seven month break. It had gotten really boring to me but now I'm just lapping it up. He was definitely a little more repetitive than even, I think, the mood he was creating calls for, but it's still wildly different and new.

Do you ever break up reading a big book to read a couple smaller ones? 'Tale of Genji' is easily the longest book I've ever seen, and I really want to dig in, but I'm not sure if I should knock some shorter fare off the list first or just take a break every few hundred pages.

I hope your long and wonderful week/end of travel was a success. I have so much work to do, between the proposal and this thing for the Billfold and I'm not sure when I'll get them done.

I'll catch you soon though!

J

DavidEhrenstein said...

Few sights are quite as sad as an abandoned amusement park.

God an e-mail today from the hisband of Ken Burdick's nice. They came across my site and my mentions of Ken -- who they inform me died around 2000.

Ken was the most beautiful boy in the Gay Activists Alliance. I'm talking REAL beauty here. People would gasp at the sight of him. He was however very sweet and non-narcissistic. Fascinatingly he became Roy Cohn's chauffeur. Why and how I have no idea. He's mentioned in all accounts of Cohn's last years.

Anyhoo the niece was in search of any info she could learn aout "Uncle Ken" as the family refuses to discuss him.

As you can imagine I'm keeping tabs on this as it develops.

_Black_Acrylic said...

@ Misanthrope, pasted from today's Popbitch email: RIP Paul Bearer (aka William Moody) had a degree in Mortuary Science and was a fully licensed funeral director/embalmer.

So I'm back from Amsterdam! Got a ferry there and back with my mum, and we slept on the boat. We had about 5 hours to see the Mike Kelley retrospective. It needs at least a couple of days to do the show justice, but I'm just glad we could pull it out of the fire after the bombshell Pompidou cancellation. I thought the show was utterly fantastic. Before the trip I'd only ever seen 1 Kelley artwork in the flesh: A Domestic Scene, in London back in 2000. Everything else had just been photos in books. I'd agree with DC that the later work shows him at the absolute artistic peak and I thought the Kandor sculptures were especially poignant, even for someone so resolutely unsentimental. I'll be turning over all the imagery in my mind forever. And so much of the work can never be captured fully in photos. Seeing Pay For Your Pleasure for myself was a real highlight, because the use of scale and the sheer sensory experience of it is such a vital part of its effect. There's so much other work as well, though. It was all that I was hoping for. @ DC, I'll be in touch re the Yuck 'n Yum thing in the coming days.

I discussed the show with my mum the evening after seeing it, and I remarked on how hilarious most of the show was. My mum was a bit confused by that. "Do you mean the whole thing was a joke?" she asked. "Well, kind of" I said. But she did agree the show was great.

DavidEhrenstein said...

ULTRA-ADORABLE MARINES!

Chilly Jay Chill said...

Dennis - Great Mirapolis post - in fact one of my favorites among the blog's many treasures. The story about rival amusement park workers printing up fake tickets and breaking in at night to sabotage the place is fantastic. Too bad the place didn't last longer - the images of it in its glory and even decay are heart quickening.

Sounds like a nice trip to see Kindertotenlieder. What about the show makes it your favorite or most successful among the collaborations with Giselle?

I do think about Blanchot's "unworking" for my own writing - mostly about making sure its main signal is at least partly obscured, that the words open up into something more expansive and ambiguous, some space where signal and noise seem interchangeable, where even the noise seems charged with meaning. If that makes sense? I'd like to get to the point where the work could more aggressively unmake itself. It's definitely something that's moving to the forefront of my thoughts.

Which novels of yours did you have to partly abandon this idea to get them to work?

Have a great weekend!

Lizz Brady said...

Hey DC, glad you enjoyed your time there but of course will take your advice and give it a miss, maybe visit if i need a peaceful break!Spoke to a girl about Berlin last night and she bigged it up loads so im so excited to go. And Paris of course, you will have to let me know of any decent hostels to stay at :)
Yeah i find it really annoying because i feel the need to write all the time, and i havent really written anything for 2 weeks and the voices are starting to taunt me about it, telling me "see told you that you couldnt do it" etc, plus hallucinating taunting voices. Tried to write about that but only getting short sentences out.Like you said, it will go away soon, and im pretty busy with this project filling all wall space with the drawings and text that was in my post.
Hope you are well, enjoy your long weekend!
Lizz x

DavidEhrenstein said...

Forst look at Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel

DavidEhrenstein said...

Latest FaBlog: "Marines, Let's Go!"

Sypha said...

Dennis, my personal theory is that it is a little more quiet here on days where you skip the PS so that you aren't overloaded with comments to respond to and catch up on when you get back to doing them again. At the very least, that's why I usually don't always respond on such days.

This day reminds me of a computer game I like to play, "Roller Coaster Tycoon 3," though that game doesn't let you have a giant. The site of that giant surrounded by desolation, and his eventual destruction, could be one of the saddest things I've ever seen. I should try to incorporate that into fiction one day.

I finished "Karamazov" and started DFW's "Broom of the System" last night. I'm also reading Didion's "White Album" on the side.

Had the day off today so I spent most of it playing "The Sims 3" and listening to the new How To Destroy Angels album, which is very good.

Pilgarlic said...

Hey, I like the photos of the decaying Mirapolis better than when in was in full...ummm, lame swing. It's sad, yeah, but, reflects the impermanence of happiness...I guess.
And, RIP Alvin Lee, of Ten Years After, who didn't even last ten years after Woodstock, which pictured he and his fleet fingers, and his funny faces on the big screen. He was sorta known for his fast-paced shredding which was too bad as he was a wonderful slow player as well. Ten Years After's biggest hit was "I'd Love to Change the World' which was neither rock'n'roll or blues, for which they were known, but a mostly acoustic piece of pop-rock. Odd in that way Kiss was with "Beth". All the stoners went, "Huh?" I liked Alvin, but, now I'd admire players who do more with less, like Peter Buck, the Edge, and Lockett Pundt in Deerhunter.
Sypha, on that new How to Destroy Angels, is Trent getting loud anymore ?

Misanthrope said...

Black Acrylic, Yeah, I didn't know that he was an actual funeral director in real life until last night. Kind of makes him cooler.

S. said...

Living the life? Hm. Didn't Burroughs say that was like Tangier boys, a yellow silk suit, and a pet deer? One life to live. Let's live more! I'm a boy, a dead boy, a man, life is exiting. "You're living a life. Me too." You're so emo, you probably think you just made me cry. Brussels blew my mind. I hope to spend more time there. I don't know comedies. Bruges sounds elastic and creamy. Gone. Deleted that sack of a whore. Haha, need to focus on writing. I didn't like a film that was on many of the posts. I love to delete stuff. I'm really into erasure and undoing. Yeah, the writing is keepable. One more day of dumb school, then I'm writing. I found the boy. I found my killer. I'm so exited, he's weird and awkward. I so gotta get back to Europe. I'm feeling Sweden and my next time in France, they ain't got a chance. It will be a week/weeks of French Indulgence. Hopefully, I will bring a new boy with me and we will come knock down your door. No doubt, have fun man, I'll be writing. LOL I wanna go to Disneyland. "Naked Lunch, don't mind if I do." LOL I get charlie-horses so bad, maybe that's why I like to spread my legs on Friday nights.

Bill said...

Hey Dennis, good to hear Bruges went well. I hope you enjoyed the gay beer, haha?

I thought "In Bruges" was hilarious. But that's me.

The eclectic event went well, despite my little troubles with the sound system. It was mostly spoken word, which I generally am not into as performance, but I really enjoyed the Annie Danger and Meliza Banales pieces. Nice audience too.

By the way, I really enjoyed Malina. I had some trouble getting into it at first, since we arrived slightly late and I couldn't remember the synopsis. But then I settled in and kind of came to terms with it. It's such a visually gorgeous film, scene after scene. Those sequences with the apartment on fire were just beautiful.

Mirapolis looks like one of those uniquely French follies; too bad it's gone...

Bill

alan said...

I was wondering whether you feel the experience of working on your abandoned George Miles book has been worthwhile in some emotional or intellectual or psychological sense, despite your dissatisfaction with the results.

Grant Scicluna said...

Hey Dennis

Mirapolis. I loved the structure of this blog post. The gung-ho, insane dreams on which it was built, the shattering of it coming back to earth, those broken dreams, and then the weird way the earth itself has seemed to reclaim the park in the end. It was beautifully put together, narratively as well as aesthetically.

It stirred some stuff in me. When I was a kid, I used to design theme parks that I imagined could be built on the fairly largish farm I grew up on. My dad bought me a draftsman's board in the hope I might become an architect, and I used it to painstakingly create and recreate whole worlds with a myriad of mad rides and themed sections. I can still feel that swelling feeling of being a boy, standing in the long grass surrounded by cows but envisioning the clatter of the roller-coasters around me.

So I get the dream part, man. I get the gung-ho vision of something better than what is there. At least Mirapolis almost got there. My theme parks became subdivisions and people's pools.