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New Parks In 2002



Starting February 21, 2002 volcanoes will have a park of their own. Honour where honour is due, it is of course in Auvergne that Vulcania has decided to set up shop. had already devoted an article this summer to this project that was inspired by the success of René Monory's Futuroscope, and led by the Regional Council of Auvergne under the leadership of its president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. We can now detail precisely the contents (both fun and pedagogical) of this site that is three-quarters underground. A site where only a single "cone" rises 28 meters above ground. No less than a day is needed for the visitors-or explorers, as the park organisers like to say-to do the tour. Among the numerous attractions offered, we have decided to choose a dozen of the best.


As you side along the inner walls, perpendicular to a 35-metre "Crater", numerous special effects give you the feeling of being in a voyage in the centre of the Earth. A centre of the Earth that is dense and agitated, if we are to believe the "Roaring Gallery" where you are treated roughly by the eruptions and earthquakes that are the quotidian lot of our old planet. Old? Maybe not so: "From the Cosmos to the Centre of the Earth" as well as the 10-minute film projected in the "Theatre of the Universe" help put things into perspective with regards to Earth and its place in the cosmos as well as its place in geological time…The Earth does seem very insignificant! This humility check should not prevent you from taking a walk in the "Volcanic Garden", a large space with a glass ceiling, filled with exotic and magnificent plants, reminding us of the perpetual reconstruction of our ecosystem: after the lava, the vegetation reclaims its place. While the "Magic Pool" offers a breath taking show of the most beautiful volcanoes of Europe, Vulcania reminds you that these rocky beauties of nature are also destructive monsters: "The Ash Clouds" spectacularly depicts the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. Ultimately tragic witnesses of the dangers of these fire-spitting mountains, the Kraffts, the famous husband-wife vulcanologists disappeared in the 1991 eruption of Mount Unzen in Japan. The area that carries their name shows part of their collection of objects and films devoted to volcanoes. It is precisely because of their imposing beauty along with their pitiless activity that has made volcanoes a timeless object of fascination: "Encounter with Legends," reminds us of this in an instructive manner. Note that there is a good deal of film on this site: a film devoted to the history of the Massif Central and the volcanoes of Auvergne is projected at the 200-seat "Amphitheatre". But the high point in the use of film media is found in 400-seat theatre, aptly named "Salle du grand spectacle" where the most impressive eruptions are projected on a giant screen, and vibrations are even included!


The care taken to integrate Vulcania with its environment, symbolised by the creation of the park itself, is further reiterated by the visit such as it is foreseen by the promoters of the project. Indeed, at the end of what was just described above, the public is invited to take full advantage of the 57 hectares of the site. To that effect, a nature trail and a botanic garden have been designed on the edges of the park.
But Vulcania's integration with its environment is also of an economic order: with 500,000 visitors expected for the first year of operation and a further 800,000 between know and 2006, the park hopes to generate an economic windfall estimated between 12.19 and 18.29 million euros each year. Moreover, this park that cost about 101.37 million euros, 85 % of which was financed by the Regional Council of Auvergne, will create between 400 and 500 jobs. And so one can understand how Vulcania has made a veritable irruption onto the Auvergne economy!

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