News is flying around the web that Dupuis has signed a deal with the company Europa Park to build a Spirou theme park in Provence (France), planned to open in spring 2015. More precisely, the park is envisioned as a complex built around a number of the publisher’s characters, including Spirou, Gaston Lagaffe, the Marsupilami, and Michel Vaillant (a popular comic about a race car driver).
According to the developers, the park will include 15 different attractions, some rides will be enhanced with digital technology (whatever that means), and there will also be a water park, hotels, and residential areas. They are seeking 75 mill. EUR in several stages of investment, starting with 36 mill. in the upcoming months in order to move forward with the plans.
Is this a good idea? Setting aside whether theme parks add to or detract from the world of the comics, the Spirou universe in particular doesn’t seem to lend itself as well to theme park design as for example Asterix or The Smurfs (both of which have had parks built around them, although the latter has since been re-themed). Even a Lucky Luke park could run with the western motif. But the settings for Spirou’s adventures are more diverse and less distinctive: the rather unremarkable village of Champignac, the stereotypical banana republic of Palombia, even just an ordinary office building (in Gaston Lagaffe). What is the theme of this theme park?
You might build rides around, say, one of Gaston’s inventions, or the zorglumobile jet aircraft, or maybe even the fabulous tail of the Marsupilami, but I think only the last one has achieved such iconic status that it would be recognizable even to visitors who aren’t intimately familiar with the series. And throwing Michel Vaillant in there only seems to muddy the concept. Already some are questioning whether these licenses will draw that many visitors. In truth, the whole vision for the theme park complex sounds quite ambitious and optimistic, particularly on the budget and the schedule proposed.
So while the possibility is intriguing, and the whole thing might be a great success, we wouldn’t get our hopes up just yet. But just for the sake of argument, what would you want to see in a Spirou theme park?