Monday, September 22, 2014

How bad is Minnesota Renaissance Festival parking?

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is an annual sign that summer is drawing to a close and autumn is here. The celebration of wine, humor and food, though, has seen better days. With the main parking lot (the King's lot) utterly decimated by a frac sand mining operation, the traffic situation seems to have his a bit of a breaking point this year. It was painfully obvious on Saturday, September 20th as the day was perfect. Attendance was estimated by many as being in excess of 30,000 and it all began with people waiting upwards of two hours to park. The day was bookended by severe storms and a torrential downpour. That, along with the record attendance and poor planning by parking lot attendees created somewhat of a public relations shitstorm for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Even though I was not in attendance at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival this past weekend, I was lucky enough to see the traffic nightmare firsthand. Passing by the grounds form the south after the rain had passed, traffic was virtually stopped from a mile south of the King's parking lot entrance/exit to Interstate 494 on 169 north. Take into account that there were still thousands of cars in the overflow parking lot adjacent to U.S. highway 169 and I can only imagine the hell that was happening further away from the highway.

But why use your imagination when you can check out the litany of not-so-glowing Facebook reviews that center around the parking and traffic nightmares at the 2014 Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

Keith Mattke
6 hours at the fest. 4 hours of misery trying to get out of the parking lot. Never returning to go through that bullshit again.

Lisa Jo Lampi
Waiting in a THREE MILE line to park for the last hour!! Come on you guys. You CAN do better than this!
Roger Thibodo
Had a great day until we left spent 2 1/2 hours trying to get out HIRE SOME TRAFFIC CONTROL
Krissy Karsseboom Odendahl
Parking sucks! I would not come if I had known it would take me all day just to get in!
Tom LeTourneauAbsolutely horrible parking!!! Over 3.5 hours trying to get out of the parking lot.
Joe Klanderspend 6 hours at the festival and almost 4 hours in the parking lot. People had to use the bathroom but the port-o potties were overflowing. No order was taken at all to get people out of there. I love the fest, but I'm not going to idle for hours to get out. I'm glad I didn't bring my kids yesterday and I had enough gas to get out of that place. I was very soured by the experience.
Stefanie Oberts BergI have been here for many years and always enjoyed it...until tonight. We have been sitting in the parking lot trying to get out of here for about 4 hours now. NO ONE directing traffic, no explanation. This is beyond ridiculous!! I don't think I will be back. This is beyond horrible. The staff and Scott County have done a horrible job. Sorry, but I think you have lost my future business...
Shannon Ivory LawsonSo the day was great with the kids- loved all of it until we got to the car at 5:37 and got out of the lot at 8:52!! Three hours in the car driving about 1 mile really dampened the day. We will not go back until the drilling is over or the festival moves. What scares me is if there was a real emergency- no one could get in or out from what I could tell. I hope everyone gets home safely. 
The fact is that the Minnesota Renaissance Festival sits on leased land which the lease ends in 2016. That gives the festival two more years until the land on which the festival grounds sit are likely mined and turned into a deep pit. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival's owners, Mid-America Festivals, do own land north and west of the current grounds which would make for a viable relocation should that be necessary if they lose their current location due to continued frac sand mining. The sticking point in my eyes, though, continues to be parking situation and even if the festival grounds do relocate, the parking will continue to become more of a hassle.
The logical suggestion is to either accept the fact that parking will continue to get worse and that the customer base will begin to erode or move the whole experience somewhere else.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

that festival is a joke. sure, there are discount tickets everywhere, but let's pretend you're lazy and walk up to the gate to pay your $23 or $24 or whatever it is they charge now. what do you get for your money? access to expensive food, access to expensive merchandise, "free" entertainment in which you'll be asked to pay for it at the end, because our tips are so crucial to the performers getting paid, they tell us. so what the hell did i pay for, free parking? sounds like that free parking ain't such a great deal any more. screw that gyp joint. why people are such suckers for that crap i'll never know.