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French theme park Puy du Fou lines up new venues in Spain and China

  • Author:theguardian
  • Source:theguardian
  • Release on:2017-06-02

The park known for its extravagant shows celebrating French culture is to develop ventures in China and Spain – with promises to reflect each country’s heritage.

french news

It is known for its ostentatious historical re-enactments – theatrical extravaganzas that feature animals, actors, stunt performers and epic pyrotechnics. Now France’s Puy du Fou theme park is ready to “go global”, with new parks planned in Spain and China.

The park revealed this week that work will start in 2018 on a “History of Spain” theme park. Some €200m is being invested in the new attraction, which will open in Toledo in 2019. Talks are also under way for a similar park in China, costing an estimated €300m, with the aim of opening a Puy du Fou park in the country by 2025.

The Spanish park – already in development – will be the venue for a nightly 75-minute live show giving a history of the country from its earliest settlers through to the 19th century. The performance will take place in a 25-acre arena that will seat up to 4,000 spectators. Restaurants, daytime shows and a “historic village” depicting architecture from different provinces of Spain, is expected to be added by 2020. Once complete, the park will create more than 1,000 jobs and is expected to attract 15,000 visitors a day.

Though Puy du Fou is considered a distinctly French attraction in style and conception, its chairman and artistic director, Nicolas de Villiers, stresses that it will not be a case of “France imposing its vision” on Spain’s history and that the park will be “entirely Spain-driven” by its manager in the country, Jesús Sáinz. The country’s story will be “zealously overseen” by historians from Toledo and elsewhere in Spain.

“Puy du Fou is distinctly French because it’s deeply rooted in French heritage. In Spain or China, a Puy du Fou project can only be possible if our way of thinking, as creatives, becomes Spanish or Chinese,” said de Villiers. “A Spanish Puy du Fou means a park with Spanish stories, rooted in the Spanish heritage, made from a Spanish point of view.”

french theme

The original Puy du Fou park opened in the Vendée region of western France in 1978 and, since expanding in 1989, has become the most popular theme park in the country after Disneyland Paris, with more than two million visitors every year. It is celebrating its 40th year in 2017 and can point to a record-breaking 2,220,000 visitors and a turnover of €100m. Turnover at the park has tripled over the past 10 years, with visitor number increasing by 184%.

De Villiers attributes this success to the need for people to find an escape during an increasingly “dark” time for the world.

“People need perspective and a breath of fresh air in their life because the time where we are now seems to become darker, and that’s why they go to leisure parks,” he said. “But they actually need more than this: they are looking for their roots, because they need to find something in common with the past, with each other. When people come to Puy du Fou they want first to entertain themselves, but also to feel the parts of the roots we all have in common.”

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