I was asked many times during my visit to the Orlando Renaissance Festival what I thought of the faire. This is the third new (to me) renaissance faire I've been to in about three weekends and the 10th venue overall in the last 20+ years. I arrived just before opening and left after close so I got to see it all. If you want to skip the reading and go right to the photos
I'll start right off with the three major complaints I heard during the day. The ticket price of $20 was too much for the size of the show, the stages needed to be raised, and no pub. Good points, all of which will be addressed next year I'm told. In my opinion, if you can do better for cheaper in the first year of a brand new faire, invite me. I would like to see it. Comparing this show to a 20 and 30 year old show is like comparing a new born to a college student. Unlike some - I will speak only to this show and not compare it to others.
I knew most of the acts from my many travels and I always enjoy watching my friends perform. The point of my recent journeys to new lands and new faires is to see new acts. The Living Chess Board performed by Lance Orlando was by far the standout show of the day. I have seen many a living chess board but none with as much spark flying fury, high energy battles, nor earth shaking falls. When not performing, the cast of this show spent the day interacting with the visitors. So much more thrilling to cheer for a combatant you just made friends with a few hours before. They certainly held the attention of the crowd. They were also a big part of why I felt so welcomed at this show.
So what did this festival get right? The location number one. This faire could grow 2-3 times its size in the given space easily. It will not take long to do so. Those attending this inaugural show were Pirates from St Augustine and Daytona, Cosplayers from Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, and Renaissance patrons from all over the state. There were even some folks from Orlando. That's just the ones I know. In most towns, the faire comes to you. In this place the world comes to Orlando. There are also a few thousand people living just outside the park and millions just a few minutes drive. This faire was primarily advertised on social media and in my humble opinion exceeded attendance expectations. It takes time to build a community like at other faires but to see so many friends travel from so far away was amazing to me.
What was the biggest buzz I caught during the day? Next Year! Next year I'm bringing the cannon's, Next year I'm setting up a booth. I'm telling this person and that person they need to be here next year. There was a huge amount of ground by the lake unused and plenty of room for a joust on the other side. Some of my friends were ready to start staking claims on the unused space.
This faire is the perfect alternative to a day at the theme parks or in my case - the perfect addition to. It is rare you can attend the first year of anything these days so it was quite a thrill to document the first year with my camera. I consider it the perfect soft opening for those of us who truly love outdoor live entertainment. I can guarantee I will be back over the next few years just to watch it grow.
The best part of this year was the time spent with far flung friends I seldom see. It's the people that make these festivals a success, not the corporations. The more you go - the more people you know. That is part of the fun of attending .
Beside - where else will a fairy make you a fish out of a soap bubble. I'll leave you with that thought. Till next year my friends.