Thursday, November 30, 2023

Puy du Fou España CEO Erwan de la Villéon shares his views on the new park

The park celebrates its grand opening and expects growth in years to come

On March 27, 2021 Puy du Fou España officially opened its doors in Toledo, Spain. Four daytime shows and four period villages immerse guests in the history and stories of Spain. At night the park produces “El Sueńo de Toledo” a large-scale spectacular that premiered in 2019. Toledo is home to the second Puy du Fou park. The original Puy du Fou opened in Les Epesses, France in 1989. The French park also features a nighttime show (Cinéscénie) that opened eleven years before the main park.

InPark publisher Martin Palicki interviewed Puy du Fou España CEO Erwan de la Villéon to learn more about the park and its relation to the original.

A scene from El Sueño de Toledo

How has response been to the show debut in 2019?

We had a fantastic response to El Sueño de Toledo, attracting over 120,000 spectators in 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately, the 2020 season started later than planned (July) due to COVID, with the first show dedicated to the extraordinary efforts of the healthcare workers of Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha.

The first Puy du Fou park in France is well-regarded for its many immersive show experiences. How will this new park compare?

Clearly Puy du Fou España won’t compete initially in terms of scale but in every other way, it will have the Puy du Fou hallmark, showing the same originality, creativity and commitment to quality.  The human side is very important to us so, as in France, while technology and brilliant special effects will be very much evident, our focus is on keeping our audiences completely immersed on an emotional level.

El Sueño de Toledo

What inspiration did the designers take from the original Puy du Fou park?

First, it’s important to stress that Puy du Fou España is not a replica of Puy du Fou France but rather a new Puy du Fou, with its roots in the history of Spain.

Puy du Fou España does, however, draw on the same values and this includes the use of authentic materials, such as wood, stone and sand throughout the Park. And, of course, the know-how of our team – 43 years worth – has been invaluable!

In what ways will this park be different?

Our weather – hotter and generally sunnier than France – will make a difference.Summer evenings are very warm which makes a visit to El Sueño de Toledo an even more special experience.

Fundamentally though, the park will immerse its visitors in Spanish history and culture and this will be reflected in everything, including the food. 

How does this park take advantage of the latest technology in its shows?

We know how useful technology is when it comes to storytelling, but at the same time, we understand the importance of keeping it behind the scenes. In this way, we keep our audiences immersed in the story, rather than prompting them to think about how the effects are produced. We make extensive use of video mapping, drones and projectors.

A Pluma y Espada (By Feather and Sword)

What sort of overarching story does this park convey to visitors?

Our overriding aim is to thrill our visitors as they travel back in time – we transport them on a journey through scenes that switch from poignant and nostalgic to positively electrifying. We believe our success will be measured by the emotional response to our shows and experiences.

Are there any experiences from the original park that directly translate to the new park?

First, we were always very clear that Puy du Fou España would tell the story of the Spanish people, taking its visitors through 1500 years of Spanish history, so in the same way as our French park is very French, Puy du Fou España is very Spanish. However, we make no claim to be history teachers – history provides the starting point for our shows and environment.

Also, we have learnt in France that every visitor has a different favorite show or experience! What’s important to us, and what we’ve proved we can do, is create something that’s completely original and unavailable anywhere else in the world but that has universal appeal.

Are there plans to add a hotel to the property?

No. There’s a great choice of hotels in the town of Toledo.

What expansion plans are expected for this new park?

The park will continue to grow over time, with the development of new shows and villages. We plan to invest over €50m in the coming years.

When can we expect to see new shows and experiences debut at this park?

Visitors to the Park will be treated to new experiences every year.

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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