Futuroscope will open "The 8th Continent" in April

NewsParcs has had the chance to visit the construction site of the next attraction of Futuroscope (Poitiers, France) called "The 8th Continent", which opening to the public is scheduled for April 9th.

The park has purchased an interactive theater at Alterface, the belgian company that has developed the Salto™ software driver, a sturdy interactive systems management tool already used in attractions such as "Desperados" or "The House".

"The 8th Continent" will highlight an ecological catastrophe unfortunately true: the clumping of thousands of tons of waste to marine microorganisms in the middle of the Pacific Ocean... A sort of soup of pollution 3 times as large as France and that scientists called the eighth continent.

Visitors will be invited by an inventor, Mark, and his assistant Sarah, to help them fight against this scourge. In the scenario of the attraction, some wastes are transformed into "animals-waste" and people need to shoot and vaporise them into clean air. For that, they will use a special gun invented by Mark: the "Trash Buster".

After a preshow where they will receive explanations about the scenario and how to use the "Trash Buster", visitors will enter in a room equipped with dynamic seats facing a giant screen. We'll see that in details below.

"The Eight Continent" concept-art by Alterface.

Let's first have a look at the construction site !

"The 8th Continent" is ideally located in the middle of the park just steps from the amphitheater and Kinemax, in a pavilion which was formerly a 360° movie.(Click to enlarge)

The queue line will be devoted to the protection of the oceans. Everywhere, mailboxes will be installed, inviting visitors to write "their" personal solutions to reduce waste and protect the planet. In some parts of the queue, the park will use a floor made of recycled materials, wood walls allowing visitors to sit, and even an old recycled scaffolding as safety barriers!

In the queue line, visitors will be confronted with the damage of pollution on the oceans. (Click to enlarge)

An outside queue line with mostly recycled materials has been created for busy days. (Click to enlarge)

Once inside, visitors will wait a few minutes in the preshow. This room will be decorated to represent a laboratory with items inspired by the style steampunk. Several specimens of "animals-waste " will be presented as a giant squid, whose body has been made with tubes, wires and other plastics materials.

The future preshow will be themed like a laboratory (Click to enlarge)
The former Circle-Vision 360° has been cut into two new rooms that will open their doors to the public one by one. Each room can fit 40 people on individual dynamic seats installed on 4 levels, with 2 places added for disabled persons.

Visitors will be installed in front of a widescreen 3 meters high and 13.5 meters wide, an impressive size that will totally immerses players in the world of "The 8th Continent". The movie itself will run for 5 minutes and will be divided into 3 shooting sequences.

  Visitors will be immersed into the movie thanks to the widescreen, close to the dynamic seats. (Click to enlarge)

The dynamic seats will be similar to other existing Alterface's CinemAction, meaning that visitors will be astride, with a handlebar and a small screen on the front. They will be themed as sort of futurist jet ski.

The "Trash Buster" resembles those sci-fi laser guns, with a blue light on top representing the "fluid" needed to vaporize the waste into air. They will be attached to the seats and will allow players to interact with the movie. Software interactivity Salto™ will recognize each gun individually and will show the points earned by each player on their seats.

In addition, the system will calculate repeatedly the best and worst players, and will embed their photos on the widescreen at the end of each shooting sequence.

  (Click to enlarge)

We had the opportunity to talk with one of the project managers of the attraction, Matthieu Galus :

NewsParcs : How long have you worked on this project ?

Matthieu Galus : We began to ask us the first questions in late 2008, then the idea came during 2009. There was a very interesting exchange with Alterface and the project was born. From the beginning, we wanted to do something very "cold" and inspired by the snow, with a steampunk theme. We visited an exhibition in Belgium where monsters were made from waste, and we have started from this idea because we thought there was really something to it!

NP : What is the investment?

MG : The entire attraction costs about 1 million EUR, including the preshow and the queue line.

NP : "The 8th Continent" movie is it exclusive to the Futuroscope?

MG : Yes, we signed an agreement with Alterface for a period of 5 years.

NP : What will be the ride capacity ?

MG : The attraction will welcome 700 persons per hour.

NP : Will it be an animation movie or a movie mixing animation with real images embedded ?

MG : It will be a bit of both! Without reveal you the script, we will begin the movie with actors that will be embedded in a animation scene, before diving into the ocean where there will at that time only synthetic images.

NP : Alterface makes "passive" movies where the script is decided beforehand, and "active" movies where players can influence the scenario, depending on how they shoot. How do you rank the 8th Continent?

MG : Let's say we will make sure that each player can see the ending scene! The scenario will be "active" with even some secret targets ! There will also be a training scene in the beginning so that everyone can get used to the game.

NP : Will you add some special effects ?

MG : No, we did not want to play on special effects in the room even if the decision is not yet final. But there will be nice effect on the floor during the visitors' entrance: they will feel like they are walking on water!

NP : Have you already tested the movie ?

MG : Yes, and we are very pleased by the realization. We are not yet fully convinced by the final, so Alterface is still working on it!

NP : How's the construction going ?

MG : We need still work 1-2 weeks on the interior and exterior on things such as soil, paint and electrical parts. Alterface will arrive at the same time and it will only takes a few days to install the seats, the screens and the entire computer system. We will then have some time to set up the attraction. We'll be ready for the opening scheduled on April 9th!

NP : Thanks a lot!

It is therefore with great anticipation that we await the arrival of this new interactive theater, a world exclusive for the Futuroscope and the largest facility of its kind by Alterface, a company that has already shown us that it could revolutionize the interactive games!

Interview by François Mayné
Pictures by Newsparcs (unless otherwise stated)
Videos, images and logos : © Futuroscope / Alterface

Click here to read this article in French


Compagnie des Alpes cedes control of a group of seven leisure parks at H.I.G. Capital Consortium

Compagnie des Alpes and the private-equity fund H.I.G. Capital France, in association with Laurent Bruloy (“the H.I.G. Capital Consortium”), have finalized the project announced in the press release of December 15, 2010, and signed agreements concerning the disposal of a group of seven leisure parks:

- Parc de Bagatelle (France),
- Aquarium de Saint Malo (France),
- Parc des Mini Châteaux (France),
- Aquarium du Val de Loire (France),
- Aquaparc du Bouverret (Switzerland),
- Avonturenpark Hellendoorn (the Netherlands),
- Pleasurewood Hills (United Kingdom).

The transactions were carried out the 31st of January.

The H.I.G. Capital Consortium will implement a strong business plan designed to step up expansion of these parks, mainly by means of a planned investment program of nearly €20 million over five years. The employee-representative bodies of the parks concerned approved the project unanimously.

The parks concerned by the sale welcomed nearly 1.6 million visitors in FY 2009-2010. They earned €28.3 million in sales and €4.9 million in EBITDA over the same period. The disposal established an enterprise value of €29 million for the group of assets.

The group of leisure parks was sold to an acquisition holding company in which H.I.G. Capital Consortium owns 70% and CDA has a minority stake of 30%. This minority stake will facilitate the transition and oversight of the initial steps of the new project. CDA will participate in the financing of the transaction through a vendor loan. The final total exposure of CDA will depend on the amount the holding borrows from banks and will not exceed €8.6 million, equity and vendor loan included.

H.I.G. Capital Consortium has a three-year call option on CDA’s stake, at the current disposal price plus interest. As the minority shareholder, CDA enjoys the usual co-sale rights: total or prorata, depending on whether H.I.G. Capital Consortium’s disposal is full or partial.

Accordingly CDA is required to “tag along” in the event of a disposal of the joint holding by H.I.G. Capital Consortium, although the terms specify that CDA cannot be forced to sell if the exit price is less than the original acquisition price plus interest.

The parties have also agreed to find a liquidity solution for CDA if it is still associated with the joint holding in six years’ time. At the same time, the shareholders’ agreement sets forth the governance rights intended to guarantee that CDA is represented on the supervisory board (two out of six seats) of the acquisition holding, and more generally to ensure the ownership interests of the minority shareholder.

In accounting terms, the disposal transactions carried out today will not significantly impact the Group’s net income for FY 2010-2011. The companies sold, however will be removed from CDA's fullconsolidation scope as of February 1, 2011, and Group consolidated reporting will therefore be impacted by the results of these seven companies up to that date. CDA’s 30% stake in the holding controlled by H.I.G. Capital Consortium will be accounted for using the equity method, as of February 1, 2011.

Dominique Marcel, Chairman and CEO of the CDA Group, stated: “The disposal of seven of our parks is a significant transaction, and follows the dual logic of Group strategic clarification and optimized capital employed. While these parks had undeniable advantages—chiefly strong regional roots and a loyal local customer base—they no longer offer synergies with our business plan, which aims primarily to develop our biggest brands and to integrate the parks more closely around shared ways to create value. We are confident in this project, which was supported by labor representatives, so we have decided to stay involved in the project, through a minority stake, in order to facilitate the transition.

About Laurent Bruloy
Mr. Bruloy, forty-five years old, is former manager and principal shareholder of Aqualud du Touquet and a well-known professional in the financial sector. After successfully managing and developing several restaurants in northern France from 1990 to 1997, Mr. Bruloy bought Aqualud du Touquet from the Suez Group in 1997. Because of his career path, Laurent Bruloy has very specialized knowledge of the leisureparks sector.

About H.I.G. Capital France
Created in 1993, H.I.G. Capital is a leading private-equity firm in small and mid-sized companies in Europe and the United States, with over €7 billion under management, mainly from major institutional investors. H.I.G. Capital invests primarily in companies with significant growth potential, and retains the existing management teams of the companies in which it invests. In France since 2007, H.I.G. Capital France comprises a team of 10 professionals with operational, strategic, and financial experience.