Our Renaissance Faire Review

It’s time for another playdate review. This month, we chose the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Both Mary and I have gone to RenFaires in the past and we each took our children last year. But for this year and this blog series, we decided to make it a full-on playdate.

Same review rules apply: The playdates need to be something new that the kids have never done before. In this case, it was a full day out with another kid. True, our kids have been to this location before, but this is not a family trip. Subtle difference there. Also, the faire had more involved activities than the standard meet-up-at-the-park and had multiple applications of sensory/development function.

Also, similar to Big Bounce and SlooMoo, the outing was child-led. They dictated where we would go, what rides they would go on, what they wanted to eat, and if we needed any breaks.

To up the ante, we also drove together. So, we have increased social interaction, changes in location, spontaneous and time-specific planned activities, and lots of sensory input throughout the day. This adds to the excitement of being in the same places together and contributes to changes in their daily routine, like their eating schedule, diet, and the end of the day wind down (or lack thereof). Sound like fun?

Let’s jump into the Pros:

It’s a sensory experience
People dressed in full costume, entertainers and artisan vendors, and the natural environment all stimulate the senses. The faire transports visitors to medieval times, meaning dirt and gravel pathways (not fun for a tactile defensive person, btw) and man-powered rides (resulting in varied sensory inputs). Because the faire doesn’t provide a sense of standardization, children have to consistently adjust and maintain their arousal level. Kids may be compelled to see, touch, and explore everything, or they could just call it quits after an hour.

Oh, don’t forget the crowds. Although it wasn’t bad when we went, it can be a lot for kids and parents that don’t do overstimulation. If that’s the case for your child, come prepared. Bring headphones, wear close-toed shoes, have good communication and a game plan if your child does get overwhelmed.

*Parent Note: The location in Fairburn, GA has little data reception and it will drain your phone battery. That is why most of the vendors are cash-only. Bring your cash and turn your phone on airplane mode.

Social skills
What we love about the RenFaire is that the people who attend are there to have a good time. No one takes themselves too seriously. It is a perfect training ground for social skills. How could you be intimidated by someone wearing tunic and tights?

We also gave the kids an allowance for this outing. All three of them had a specific amount of money they could spend on rides, snacks, and their one souvenir. We doled out their cash and let them pay each of the vendors and ride operators on their own. They also said their please and thank-yous.

Mary’s son ordered his lunch, purchased his new wooden shield, and asked questions like, “Why is that guy so tall?” FYI, the man was on stilts. The people he interacted with were patient and kind, allowing him to gain the courage to speak and advocate for himself.

My twins also had to be direct about what rides they wanted to go on, if they needed a snack or water break, and take instruction when they were learning how to shoot an arrow.

We also went on Time-Traveler and Pet-Friendly weekend, so there was the added opportunity to ask people if they could pet their dogs.

Opportunities to try new things
RenFaire is a great place for new experiences. The kids tried different foods, held exotic animals, and learned to shoot arrows (with supervision). If your kid is nervous to try something new, the positive peer pressure in a playdate helps. Mary’s son is more of an “observer first, doer second.” It was interesting that he mustered up the courage to participate in activities he normally would walk away from, like riding on a swing carousal or holding a snake, once he saw his friends do it. It was also nice to see the girls give him encouraging words, letting him know what to expect, and that he was going to be just fine. And they were right.

Practice executive functions
Mary is currently working on basic math skills and money management with A. Because the RenFaire is mostly cash only, it allows him to practice. With a certain budget, he had to determine how he would spend his money. He really wanted a shield to complete his knight outfit but was afraid he’d be out of money if he spent it on rides. To ensure he stayed in budget, he’d would find out how much an attraction would cost, do the math, and determine if it was worth it. Once he purchased his shield, he was willing to indulge with friends, going on multiple rides with the rest of his allowance.

For the girls, their budget allowed them the autonomy to make decisions. Do I want this or that? Do I want my souvenir to be a decorative butterfly or bow and arrow set? Do I paint a $10 design on my face or a $20 design? Not only did they have to intentionally weigh their options, but it did away with instant gratification.

And now the cons:

Truthfully, there weren’t any real cons for the kids. They all had a good time, even with the occasional tantrum or minor injury from tripping over a rock. The weather was fantastic; and unlike previous years, we didn’t have to wait long for rides. Except for a particularly smelly port-a-potty and a very loud car ride home, it was probably one of the smoothest playdates so far.

The only negative was for us, the moms. Mary and I have attended easily 10-15 Renaissance Faires between us, and there are certain things we like to do. However, going back to the playdate being child-led, there were a number of things that took a back seat. Our kids didn’t want to sit through any of the shows or performances, so we didn’t. There were certain shops that we like to go to, but we didn’t. There were certain places that we would’ve like to have spent more time browsing and certain adult beverages that we would’ve loved to imbibe, but we didn’t. See the pattern?

We are always happy to go to the Renaissance Faire and we are more than happy to share that experience. But with the kids, and with a playdate, there is a very different feel and a much faster pace. We wanted to prioritize their experience, so we held back a bit on our own. Maybe that is enough of an excuse to go again without the kids.

Verdict: Recommended.

The kids had a great day and when we got home, we all crashed hard. They are still playing with their souvenirs and asked to go again later in the season. I did bring a backpack with sunscreen, basic first aid, and water to stay hydrated; all of which we did need. I also brought water, Gatorade, and lots of snacks for the car.

It can be difficult to manage kids for a full day, especially with that much sensory stimulation. However, giving them the opportunity to flex their imagination and have new (especially immersive) experiences always pays off. Following the outing, make sure you are keeping them fed, hydrated, and rested. Full, active days in the sun (plus a lot of sugar) can lead to upset stomachs and headaches, and it can be hard to get back into routine.

The Georgia Renaissance Festival is open on weekends, now through June 4th. Most of the vendors and performers are on a traveling festival circuit, so do a Google search for the next Faire in your area.

Check out more photos and video from our Big Bounce field trip on IG and TikTok.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s