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Park People DU FOU

Do you think the fact that you are not a ride park helped you stand out to the Applause Award judges? That’s what the jury said; we have set up a different model. There are no rides [except a period carousel] because rather than the American model, the theme of the park is based upon a mix of history and fantasy, with stories and scripts that are like a novel. This mix gets the success that we have, and we are the only show park in the world probably.

Do you consider Puy du Fou to be a theme park?

No we don’t, our philosophy is to be something different. In a theme park, all the décor and architecture are usually fake, but we thought to make completely the opposite with real stones, real walls; true materials. Everything is built on a human scale. The only comparison to other parks is that you pay for an entrance ticket, and then you can go freely between the shows in a closed area, the same as you would with rides in an theme park. So it is a park, but it is not a classic attraction park.

Last year (2013) you overtook Parc Astérix to become the third busiest park in France, and you look likely to hold onto that position for 2014 with 1.9 million guests. Was this always your plan?

It was not always our goal to be the third park. We don’t care whether we are the first, second, third or fourth. Now we are now the third park [behind Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park], but it is perhaps more interesting to find out why some of the other parks are loosing guests when we are having success.

You now have four themed hotels and on- site accommodation for your guests. How important is this to the Puy du Fou business model?

When we created the first hotel, my father was hesitating because he thought it was not his job, but our general manger Laurent Albert was really convinced that it was a good idea. We saw from 2000 that it was possible to get some success, but to get more success we had to become a destination. It is not easy to come to Puy du Fou, we are far from every big city, and to stay two days is quite impossible. Now, because we have developed hotels in the park, some other hotels have been built in the local area, because people saw that we believed in the concept ourselves. With almost 14,000 seats in our biggest show, it is still a lot of people to find beds for, but jointly the hotels had an occupancy rate of 85% last year. They are all themed hotels, and that is very

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important. When you come to Puy du Fou you are travelling in time, but then if you go to another hotel outside the park you break the experience. We wanted to make themed hotels so people can stay for two or three days in a different world that is inspired by history. So you can stay in a villa, you can go in a medieval hotel, or sleep in a tent from the Renaissance period in the new Camp du Frap D’Or [opened in 2014].

How do you bring your shows to life using technology, yet keep them authentically historical? You can raise the emotion in people’s hearts because of the story, because of the music, but also sometimes because of special effects. Technology is a very good way to make impressive effects, but it is important that you don’t see it, because people should be completely immersed in the story. In each show we have some kind of effect. For example in the big indoor theatre show Mousquetaire de Richelieu there is water coming on the floor, which people do not expect. In Le Secret de la Lance, which is a medieval show, there is a large 15m-long castle that disappears in front of you into the floor. In June will introduce 50 drones into Cinéscénie, but you won’t see them either.

Tell us more about the drones and how they will be used in Cinéscénie? We want to create the biggest chandelier in the world, in the sky, moving and then disappearing. It’s very complicated from the technological aspect but also the legal aspect because by law you cannot fly drones at night, you cannot fly several at the same time … and we want to do all of this! We went to the French authorities very early to explain our concept, opened up our doors, and I have to say they have been very supportive. We will be the first project to use this many drones, and it’s been very complex. If you only have two or


summer before my father started, he had a

meeting. Only the mayor and the guy who had the keys to the room turned up. We now have 1,600 performers in each production of Cinéscénie, they are coming from all over Europe

BELOW: Cinéscénie is Puy du Fou’s signature show

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