Serge Paillon is not far from rediscovering the taste for freedom: that of seeing the attractions of the park resume their mechanical arabesques in the azure sky of Gassin and seeing the eyes shine at nightfall.
The decor is still dormant. Like a ghost museum of sleeping rides. But under the machines and in the aisles, the operators take care of the smallest details before the reopening set for this Friday, at 6 p.m.
“Normally, we open at Easter”calculates the one who has been surveying the premises since 1968, considering himself however “lucky: because we were able to work last summer”with state aid “who was at the top. But I have friends who stopped the fairs in November 2019”he does not forget.
A lag reinforced by the announcement of a recovery for amusement parks in May which made pschitt: according to the text, “we could reopen the parks without the attractions. You have to be a hell of a communicator to do that”, he wonders again. It was for the zoos and the Puy du Fou”.
“The novelty of the 2021 season”, it will be “audience count”, laughs the one who works as a family with his brother Robert, his children Sacha and Sam and his niece Carla. On the three hectares “and wheelbarrows from the park”, up to 8,250 people could evolve there at the same time. With mandatory mask: “We were in the dark last year. We had provided a protocol with our unions, approved by the prefecture”. If the distribution of gel was already in effect last year, it will also be done when leaving the rides this season. “We are outdoors, the rule is to clean the spaces every two hours. But that doesn’t bother me too much”while the channeling of the public is regulated with separate entrances and exits.
Big constraint on the other hand: the closing of the installations at 11 p.m., until the end of the month. Suffice to say that the public will flow back at 10:45 p.m. Far from being an economic evidence for such a structure: “We are a night park, we will start a little earlier”, around 6 p.m. (instead of 7:30 p.m.). Without really believing in this temporary solution, he who saw last summer an unprecedented influx of young people attracted by thrills, while Azur Park was more used to family attendance.
The pandemic has still had an impact on this world of leisure. “We had a new attraction project in 2020. We pushed back, I didn’t feel like taking such a risk if we weren’t to open. Last year, I didn’t know what to think. Maybe the half of the ride makers won’t recover”he fears.
This does not mean that the troop of Azur Park has been unemployed. “Laughing, we say that we chased away the rust. We had to work 4 days a week this winter”. Because even if the rides are dismantled, the structures must be maintained. “To prepare the park for the opening, we need two months. The rides are winterized”. You have to restart the machine. “We took a risk with a start-up in March without knowing a date”.
At the back of the park – next to the modernized version of the new Tagada carousel – sits the attraction that will certainly attract thrill seekers: King is back. The animal is “bully”, confirms Serge. Last summer, in the uncertainty, the merry-go-round did not come. “It’s the biggest Eight that travels in Europe, he recalls in figures: 72m long, 28 wide, 29 high for 800 meters” sensations of a course of unstoppable convolutions.
“Each year, we modify the plan of the park so as not to tiredescribes Serge Paillon. It takes alchemy”almost to the millimeter, between noisy rides and quieter attractions.
See you on Friday to discover the new atmosphere.
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