You know, it's kind of ironic that - just as The Walt Disney
Company was undergoing a creative renaissance in the early 1980s - the Mouse
got very interested in the (relatively new at that time, anyway) renaissance
faire & festival phenomenon.
Don't believe me? Okay.
Then let's talk about SAK Theatre Co. That audience-participation troupe that
Craig McNair Wilson & C. Herbert Hanson created to perform at renaissance
festivals. The head of Creative Entertainment saw members of this group perform
at a faire in Tampa in 1981 and then invited McNair & Hanson to create a
troupe of comedia players for the Italy pavilion at World Showcase. This group
of performers were so well received by Guests during EPCOT Center's preview
period that - two weeks prior to that theme park's official grand opening on
October 1, 1982 - WDW Management asked SAK Theatre Co. to come up with a second
group of street players who could then entertain visitors at World Showcase's
United Kingdom pavilion.
Copyright Disney Enterprises. Inc. All rights reserved
And well after EPCOT Center opened, Disney remained
fascinated with the whole renaissance faire / festival phenomenon. Even going
so far as to hire Buzz Price's company back in July of 1985 to do a preliminary
analysis of renaissance festival events in the United States. (You can actually
read this report for yourself. It's among the personal & professional papers
that this late Disney Legend donated to the University of Central Florida's
Rosen School of Hospitality Management back in 2003).
So - given the research that the Harrison Price Company did
back in the 1980s -- did Disney ever seriously think about getting into the
renaissance festival / faire business? Well, back in the late 1980s, a very
kind friend at Walt Disney Imagineering did slip me this piece of concept art ...
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
... Which suggests that - at least for a while - that the
Company did somewhat seriously toy with this notion of producing a
renaissance-themed traveling show that they could then send out on the faire /
So why didn't this project go forward? My understanding is
that -- while Mouse House officials recognized that there was huge profit
potential in a Disney-produced renaissance faire - the booze, bawdy wenches and
faux bloody battles that one associates with these types of events would have
been a bad fit for Disney's family-friendly image. Which is why - though the
Company continued to periodically employ top acts who were working the
renaissance festival circuit (witness Don Juan and Miguel's appearance at WDW's
25th anniversary press event) - Mickey eventually abandoned its
renaissance-themed traveling show and opted to go with the Disney Fair instead.
Which was this elaborate traveling show that was aimed at the State Fair crowd
which premiered at the Puyallup Fair in September of 1996.
Photo by Nancy Stadler
Anyway ... I bring this up because King Richard's Faire - New England's
largest and longest running renaissance festival - has just opened for its 29th
season. And given the elaborately themed venue that this day-long interactive
entertainment is presented in ... Well, it's no wonder that King Richard's Faire is
often been called the Disneyland of the renaissance faire circuit.
And this year, there's lots of Disney fans to like about
King Richard's Faire. Especially "Twitter Dee & Twitter Dum," that two-part
Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Glee parody musical which is being presented at the
King's Stage at 1 & 3:30 p.m.
There are also other wonders to be found in the 80-acre pine
forest where King Richard's Faire is held. Among them the "Tale of the Tiger"
show. Where you'll get to see Hercules the Liger. Who - when he's standing on
his hind feet - is 12-feet tall and weighs
900 pounds. Which makes Hercules the largest big cat currently on the
planet, or so says the Guinness Book of World Records.
In addition to bringing back old favorites like the Hanlon-Lees
Action Theatre (whose jousting knights & steeds thrill faire-goers three
times daily down on the tournament field), King Richard's Faire producer Bonnie
Shapiro has deliberately freshened up
the entertainment line-up for this year's festival. Bringing in new acts like
Daniel, Duke of Danger ...
... as well as Pinwheel and Sprout, the silly-but-saucy Washing
And just like at a Disney park, you'll find plenty of shops to
explore. Not to mention theme park-type food (turkey leg anyone?) to nosh upon.
So if you're up in New England now through the end of
October and want to get a sense of what a Disney-style renaissance festival
might have been like, then you should make a point of checking out King Richard's
Faire. Which will be held in Carver, MA. for eight consecutive weekends -
including Labor Day and Columbus Day Mondays - through October 24th.
For further information on King Richard's Faire (including
this annual event's admission prices & operating hours), please click on
would be nice if they had an address or directons to this faire
We went to a local RenFair last year. My favorite entertainer was a guy who played classical music--on glasses filled with various amounts of water! He had to "tune" his glasses before each song, and then off he'd go. He was amazing - he even had CD's of his music to sell. Hope I see him again someday!
Those pictures look like they were taken on the esplanade in Boston, not in Carver, MA.
I live near there and have been many times. My favorite is the town drunk. You could follow him around for an hour and be entertained. I'm hoping to go again this year because I haven't been in three years.
Actually, those last few pictures are on the Esplanade-- That was the Promo Event in Boston before the Faire opened on Labor Day Weekend. The Faire is also located on Route 58 in Carver.