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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Posted by Dennis Cooper at 9:04 AM