Beyond the Norm
The next generation of attractions industry leaders must be switched on to social and technology trends, according to Nicolas de Villiers, chairman and artistic director of Puy du Fou International. He tasks himself daily with the goal of finding one fresh idea for Puy du Fou.
“It’s a kind of exercise. I try to be very connected to what happens in the world,” he says. De Villiers listens to the radio, scours the news, and watches hit shows, searching for that one piece of information that could make a difference.
De Villiers spotted the theatrical potential of drones last decade while seeking a way to “use the sky as a stage.” Drone companies told him time and time again that his dream of using synchronized drones to carry lighting and props was impossible. He persisted until he found one that thought it was feasible. He then convinced the French authorities to let him fly drones at night in front of an audience.
Puy du Fou’s Neopters performed aerial ballet at the “Cinéscénie” show in 2015. Since then, their numbers have swelled to 30. In Spain, drones form angels and candles as they float in midair at poignant moments.
Staying open-minded is key, de Villiers believes. He and his team are as likely to work with aeronautics experts as automobile engineers on their creations.
“If you only stay connected to the show or parks industry, you won’t create anything new; you will just reproduce what others do,” he says.