Paris (AFP)

The hunt for sweets is outdated: the French are celebrating more and more Halloween in theme parks, many of which even achieve their peak of attendance of the year through attractions that play with malicious spirits or the thrill.

"Halloween has become an unavoidable season, which generates large volumes over a short period, regardless of the weather", summarizes AFP François Fassier, director of amusement parks (Astérix, Walibi, Futuroscope, Grévin) of the Company Alpes.

What visitors come for? "To be scared while being in a secure environment, we play on primary emotions for all audiences: young adults who want to be scared will come at night, children wanting to have fun will come with their parents day", puts he ahead.

For the holidays of All Saints, apart from Puy du Fou, all parks in France Hexagon orange and black, playing in varying degrees with terrifying creatures and malicious spirits.

A pioneer in this field, Disneyland Paris - with some 15 million annual visitors in Marne-la-Vallée - has been celebrating Halloween for no less than 22 years, the event having become "an iconic season with Christmas".

For five weeks, the largest private tourist destination in Europe offers "a 360-degree experience" with revisited attractions, a parade and two special evenings on October 26 and 31, the latter requiring a special ticket (69 and 79 euros respectively ) which gives access to the park from 17H00 and up to 2H00.

If Disneyland promises "an atmosphere between laughter and chills," Park Asterix has decided to "really scare", including two haunted ephemeral houses "discouraged" under 16 years.

"We try to stand out with this specificity.The visitors are pursued by undead in a pyramid, or end up in the catacombs with corpses and skeletons.There are effects of smell and wind, landslides ", says Guy Vassel, Deputy General Manager.

- 350.000 visitors -

"Having attractions that are much more scary leads to a clientele of young adults, even if it is above all a family park, entertainment for all and that all fears are declined with appropriate signage", emphasizes there.

Parc Astérix, located in the Oise and which is the tenth edition of "Fear on the Park", offers a day and night ticket for 79 euros, or a night ticket alone for 39 euros.

For Halloween, "we record the best attendance of the year, welcoming between 330,000 and 350,000 people on the first two weekends of October and the two weeks of All Saints," said Guy Vassel.

He admitted, however, that - as in most parks - the theme of Halloween "is very far from the world of Asterix, which has no connection with the world of night and fear."

The Futuroscope for its part chose a "festive" axis: "We oriented our offer to children, it is not at all a Halloween that is really scary", summarizes Laure Mosseron, Marketing Director.

In addition to an animated film and a disguise contest, the catering offer was adapted, "with coffe-shaped desserts or witch potions".

In 2018, during its first edition dedicated to Halloween, the Poitevin Park had experienced "the best holidays of All Saints [of its history] in terms of attendance, with 162,000 visitors over fifteen days", 60% spending a night there, says Laure Mosseron.

For the expert Didier Arino, director of the firm Protourisme, if Halloween "is a great deal for parks that make considerable revenue", it is also because All Saints' Day is particularly conducive to short stays in France.

"Twenty-two per cent of the French are planning to leave this year during this period and three quarters of them will stay in France: as it is not the ski season nor the seaside, families go to the parks of recreation, especially to keep children busy, "says Arino.

© 2019 AFP