On the forecourt of Disneyland Paris on this weekday, the French rub shoulders with Italians who enjoy a public holiday in their country, Spaniards or Americans. Mickey's park, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, does not give attendance figures but welcomes 56% of foreigners and 44% of French.

"It's quite common for us to come here, we usually do it once a year," Adelaide Gautier, a 38-year-old Frenchwoman, told AFP. "But this year it's mainly because the children had tickets as a Christmas gift so we only had our places to pay," says the mother, who monitors her budget.

"We come on weekdays for the (lower) prices, we take the picnic and we do not sleep on site," she explains.

Inflation could be the little cloud in 2023 on a season that promises to be radiant for amusement parks, which seek the parade to the decline in purchasing power.

In the Oise, the Mer de sable, which blows out its 60 candles, "favors spontaneity" and does not take reservations, even if it means refusing people as was the case three times in May. The gauge of 6,000 visitors had been reached.

With an entrance "less than 30 euros" and "children's menus at 8.50 euros and adults at 14 euros", "we felt that people were sometimes to one or two euros", says to AFP the director of the park Antoine Laccarière.

"So we worked upstream to keep these rates by modifying the content," he explains. Thus, the ice cream offered as a dessert from the children's menu having become too expensive has been replaced by a donut.

- 'We have earned our letters of nobility' -

A few kilometers away, Parc Asterix also adapts. "We have some days in the week call rates that start at 40 euros," instead of the usual 62 euros, explains to AFP François Fassier, director of the leisure parks branch of the Compagnie des Alpes group.

The group's 12 parks (Parc Astérix, Futuroscope, Walibi...) welcomed more than 2022 million visitors in 10, an increase of 6% compared to before the pandemic, and the average spending per visitor increased by 17%.

"It is a hobby that has evolved a lot in recent years, with major investments. We have earned our letters of nobility," says François Fassier.

Among the levers used to support growth: regularly offer new products, in addition to offering "special days" such as Halloween or Christmas. "When you offer a quality product, customers are willing to make the necessary expenses. Anything mediocre is rejected," Fassier said.

At the Futuroscope in Poitiers, in August 2022 © GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP/Archives

It highlights the new ecolodges of Futuroscope or the new attraction of Parc Asterix, the Toutatis festival, which opened in the spring after two years of work and a budget of 36 million euros.

In the Vendée, Puy du Fou has invested more than 20 million euros for its new show around the beginnings of cinema.

"The 2023 season is really very encouraging," Nicolas de Villiers, president of Puy du Fou, told AFP, "the French are at the rendezvous and foreigners are back."

"We have already broken attendance records in the first weeks. We are on a very spectacular increase in the number of visitors, exploding our records," he said.

In 2022, the Vendée park had welcomed 2.34 million visitors.

Same enthusiasm at the Compagnie des Alpes. "At the same weather, we should have a better summer than last year in all the parks," says François Fassier.

© 2023 AFP