Author Topic: Full-Time Renn Park??  (Read 3999 times)

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Offline Anomalous44

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Full-Time Renn Park??
« on: August 08, 2013, 03:13:52 PM »
Greetings,
I am posting to create an interest list in participation at a Full-Time renaissance theme park. Are there any rennies out there who would be interested in living, vending, acting or visiting a renaissance theme park that would operate 24 hours a day for at least several consecutive months out of the year? I am looking into securing a piece of property that could sustain long term existence (with minimal need for importing supplies). The property will be large enough to build a small town with taverns, stables, shoppes and Inns as well as having workable farmland and villages separate from the main town. The concept is to create an environment where rennies can LIVE out their characters for more than just the weekend and guests can experience what it would have been like to live in the period. This would be a vacation resort where guest can come for the day, stay for a week or even become a contributing member of the community. So, have at it! Tell me what you think of this idea, what you like or dislike about it and why you think it will or will not be a success.

Offline Merlin the Elder

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 07:39:09 AM »
Fascinating concept. In what part of the country are you thinking about?
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Offline BLAKDUKE

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 09:11:32 AM »
Interesting concept.  Difficult idea to wrap my head around.  Would like to hear more details.  If trying to gauge interest Yea/Nay, I vote Yea.
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Offline Prima

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2013, 11:48:52 AM »
I came across this location during some browsing...I would LOVE something like their tudor weekends the states!
http://www.kentwell.co.uk/
"I aim to misbehave" ~Malcolm Reynolds

Offline dbaldock

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2013, 12:48:22 PM »
Sounds like an interesting place to visit.

If you're talking about operating a Renaissance Theme Park as a business, you might look into how parks like Silver Dollar City (1880's era Ozark Mountains) or Dollywood (Smokey Mountains) are organized and run.  They have a lot of crafts and entertainment geared to a specific "time" and "place."

If you secure the property, then I guess you'd take care of the zoning, permits, taxes, and any state or county required infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, electrical) improvements?  What about conveniences like Phones (remote rural areas may have marginal Cellular coverage) and Internet Access?  Would you build the structures that people would come to live and work in, or would they be required to do so?  If they build and own them, how is the tax bill for property improvements divvied up - and could they sell them to whoever they'd like?  If you own the structures, would the people be paying you to use the buildings, or be employed by you to demonstrate their crafts and talents for the community?


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David Baldock
Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people... -anonymous

Offline Anomalous44

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2013, 02:45:55 PM »
Loving the feeback/interest. Of course all state and local laws would be satisfied and the "Resort" would be run as a business. I'm currently looking at a piece of property in Central California that is around 500 acres and has amenities already (including a water powered mill house). As far as the modern conveniences go, for the sake of authenticity, mundane items such as cell phones and computers would not be welcome in the park but could be checked in at a secure building at the park entrance. Modern money will not be used inside the park but guests can purchase period replica tokens to make purchases inside the park (vendors can exchange these for cash). Bunk houses would be available for cast/crew and room fees would be deducted from pay accordingly. Crew would also have the option to reside in villages under a land/lease but might be required to build their own structure. The structure could be sold to a pre-approved lessee but land would not be deeded. The nominal land lease would provide for any taxes that would be incurred for improvements if that is the case. If a structure were forfeit or abandoned then that building would come into possession of the park and could be sold/leased at the parks discretion. Back to the mundane. Public phones and computers would be available at a cyber-cafe near the main entrance of the resort for those guests that absolutely must stay in contact while visiting the resort. The idea is to create an environment where the community is self sufficient with barter/trade/entertainment/farming etc. and the guest comes to learn and interact with the community. Vendors would essentially be private contractors and would be provided with sufficient area in the marketplace to vend and camp. I don't want to go into too much further detail at this point but I think you might catch the drift. 

Offline Anomalous44

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2013, 02:54:19 PM »
I just looked up the Kentwell Hall website and YES! The idea is to create the same type of experience but more from the commoners and tradesman perspective.

Offline Dinobabe

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2013, 03:56:14 PM »
Sounds like an interesting place to visit.

If you're talking about operating a Renaissance Theme Park as a business, you might look into how parks like Silver Dollar City (1880's era Ozark Mountains) or Dollywood (Smokey Mountains) are organized and run.  They have a lot of crafts and entertainment geared to a specific "time" and "place."

I agree, I think your best bet for a comparative is Silver Dollar City (SDC).  They are very successful and offer a relatively historical entertainment venue while also making sure modern amenities (which guests need) are provided for.  They have some areas that are strictly historical (like the Homestead), the craft and entertainment areas (which vary from historical to edutainment), and the park rides.  While I LOVE the idea of a strictly historical Ren park I think the stringent rules may turn away quit a few people, especially if they are wanting to stay at the resort.  I know I would be wary of someplace that said I couldn't have my cell phone on me.  The money changing idea is cool but I think I would make it optional.  SDC also has a resort area that consists of camping and handmade log cabins.  I would start with a SDC model and work from there.  My best suggestion would be to go to Branson, MO and take several days to visit the park and stay in the cabins.  If nothing else it makes for a great vacation.  My family has been visiting there for almost 50 years and the third generation will be going for the first time this Christmas (he'll be 6 months old)!

I would also check out the College of the Ozarks, know as Hard Work U, and the Shepherd of the Hills venue.

What ever you choose to do I wish you the best of luck. ;)
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Offline Imestra

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2013, 06:46:38 PM »
An ambitious venture, certainly.  Interest list: Aye!
From a practical perspective, it is doubtful that our family would exchange our much closer-to-home vacation options to come see you in Cali.
Cheers! from Ohio
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Offline Robert Phoenix

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2013, 07:03:10 PM »
I've seen the ideas tossed around on a number of ren forums over the years.  I seem to remeber that there was someone planning south of Cleveland at one time. I personally would love to work in such an enviromentso I wish you the best of luck.  Hopefully a ren faire version of Disney will happen someday.  .

Offline EltonJ

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2013, 09:02:25 PM »
Loving the feeback/interest. Of course all state and local laws would be satisfied and the "Resort" would be run as a business. I'm currently looking at a piece of property in Central California that is around 500 acres and has amenities already (including a water powered mill house). As far as the modern conveniences go, for the sake of authenticity, mundane items such as cell phones and computers would not be welcome in the park but could be checked in at a secure building at the park entrance. Modern money will not be used inside the park but guests can purchase period replica tokens to make purchases inside the park (vendors can exchange these for cash). Bunk houses would be available for cast/crew and room fees would be deducted from pay accordingly. Crew would also have the option to reside in villages under a land/lease but might be required to build their own structure. The structure could be sold to a pre-approved lessee but land would not be deeded. The nominal land lease would provide for any taxes that would be incurred for improvements if that is the case. If a structure were forfeit or abandoned then that building would come into possession of the park and could be sold/leased at the parks discretion. Back to the mundane. Public phones and computers would be available at a cyber-cafe near the main entrance of the resort for those guests that absolutely must stay in contact while visiting the resort. The idea is to create an environment where the community is self sufficient with barter/trade/entertainment/farming etc. and the guest comes to learn and interact with the community. Vendors would essentially be private contractors and would be provided with sufficient area in the marketplace to vend and camp. I don't want to go into too much further detail at this point but I think you might catch the drift.

Sounds like something I want to take part in.  Although I wish it wasn't cali.  I can't even abide going there for any reason at the moment.  It would be a great idea to move there some 30 years ago, but not right now. :(  Although, I would have access to wine grapes, hmmm . . .  nah.  It's not a good idea for me to move there now.  In fact, I wouldn't be able to afford it. :(

Offline Anomalous44

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2013, 12:40:08 AM »
Thanks to all who have replied so far. I'm loosening up on the ideas of strict period participation since the amenities required would clearly stand out. From a business perspective I'm thinking that the main town would provide a mix of modern amenities and historical fun, while the villages and outer parts of the park can be for the more hard core period buffs. I'm in the early stage of research at this time and the only reason I mentioned California is because there is a beautiful property with 350 acres 3 ponds, a lake and a water powered mill already in place. It would be fairly easy to get going. I will be expanding my search to include the rest of the country. Ideally the property will be at a low enough altitude to operate year round and should be more than 300 acres.

Offline Rani Zemirah

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2013, 02:32:10 AM »
There was a thread about exactly this subject started by someone else a couple of years ago, who wasn't a regular to these boards, and who didn't come here to participate... but also wanted to gauge interest in his venture, and to find people willing to commit to signing binding vending leases in order to convince his potential backers to invest.  He faded away, though, and nothing ever came of his idea, even though he made it sound like it was almost to the building stage, with plans, layouts, blueprints and such.  It's been talked about several times, by lots of people... and there is always interest... but so far no one has done anything more than talk.  There are, however, a great many people here who would likely flock to such a place, either as vendors, entertainers or patrons... if it were to ever come into existence.  I would probably even lead the pack.  :) 
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Offline PollyPoPo

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2013, 06:42:33 AM »
Have seen this idea put forth in other forums.  Comparisons are always made to existing places which are operating, but it seems all of those places are basically historical for the site, as in castles or medieval towns in England and Europe, early American in Eastern US, American Indiana or Wild West in Western US, etc.  These attractions are in keeping with the history and location.  Most are also for day-trippers, people who are visiting an area with other attractions.  Some are foundation-run, historical re-enactment, etc. with student volunteers and older people acting as docents.  They are not primarily places of entertainment.

It is an intriguing idea, but needs much more research than can be gleaned from these forums.  Start with actually visiting current renfaires throughout the country.  See first-hand what works and what does not. 

Talk with owners and management about the business.  Find out what tax and insurance liabilities they incur as land-owners offering lodging as well as with other people building structures on their land. 

Research failed faires and non-starters, particularly one in Texas that burned a lot of people who were trying to get it off the ground for the owner.

Some of your stated ideas are not in keeping with today’s marketplace.  The token period money idea is cute, but more suited to a child’s playland for $10- $25 amounts – not for any place a major purchase might be made.  Vendors are using remote credit card machines, finding it almost a necessity to stay in business at all.  Without credit machines, impulse purchase is non-existent; making it more difficult by instituting a currency exchange will shortchange the vendors.

Multiple working ATMs through the fairgrounds are required if you want people to spend money.

Cell phone and internet hot spot access is being made available during the day and almost a necessity for overnight campers. 

Port-a-potties are being replaced by flush toilets, etc. 

ADA compliance has to be considered.

Can you find enough employees (as in rennies who travel the faire circuit) who would be willing to settle down in one spot for months at a time?  One of the reasons some major faires limit their faire to a couple months is because vendors, seasonal employees and entertainers literally get burned out working long hours each weekend, with management and year-round employees working unbelievable long hours for the entire run of the faire, seven days a week. 

People like the idea of going back to a simpler time, but not for a more than a day at a time. Yes, there are diehards living off the land, without money; but those people would not be your customers; customers are the ones with money to spend.

 As for self-sustaining with people growing their own food, bartering, etc., that gets into a whole different arena.  There is a web site (don't remember which one, ran across it in a research similar to this a while back) listing planned, created, as well as hippie-type communities around the world.  Many start with the participants (non-guests) paying a fee (as in give us all your money) or having to work outside the commune to bring in money.  The only ones that seem to survive for even a short period of time (or even get off the ground) are those built around a religion or life-philosophy which includes a no-outsider policy.

These forums are populated by all kinds of people associated with faire, entertainers, vendors, rennies (as in workers who go from faire to faire), owners, and, of course, paying customers.  Hopefully you can get realistic responses and ideas from the various groups.

For what it’s worth, as a faire-going customer, several times a year I travel a couple hundred miles to visit faires in Texas, spending perhaps $100 a weekend at vendors (not including lodging).  Although a few people on these forums have indicated they do travel great distances for faires, I would not travel 1000 miles to visit a resort based on medieval or renaissance Europe.  Of my family and friends who attend faire (spending a lot more money because they have it), none of them would travel that far for any faire (unless they were already in the area for a business trip).   


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Offline Rowan MacD

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Re: Full-Time Renn Park??
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2013, 09:19:02 AM »
  Excellent points Polly! 

Rani-I was going to point out the same thing.  This sounds a bit  like the last pitch by 'Sovereign Springs' (the member who made 3 posts then faded away) for a Colorado venture.

 Here is the thread, originally posted in Ye Olde Classifyds back in 2011:

 http://www.renaissancefestival.com/forums/index.php/topic,14722.msg308196.html#msg308196

Some interesting posts before SS disappeared; never to be heard from again.
 



 
 
« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 09:25:38 AM by Rowen MacD »
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