Traffic flow ‘night and day’ from previous years for day 1 of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival
The lack of traffic for those driving into Shakopee for the opening day of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival on Saturday was one of the biggest changes to the event for 2023.
In years past, before you could get to the food, the pubs, and costumes galore, the ride in has been known as an adventure of its own.
This year, so far, has felt like night and day for festival goers.
Lauren Dietz has been traveling from Prior Lake for a few years. Asked how long she’s waited in line in prior years, she said, “Probably anywhere from 15 minutes at the quickest to probably hours in line.
This year, “it was actually like maybe a two or three minute wait through the line,” she said.
Jessica Foreman carpooled in from Bloomington.
“We usually try to get here earlier but it’s been, you know, waiting in traffic for like 45 minutes before or so,” she remembered.
Instead, the traffic was non-existent on Saturday for the drive in, she said.
“It was pretty smooth, got right in,” she added.
“The traffic volumes are about the same as they were last year on the first day,” said Tony Janowiec. He’s the CEO of Interstate Parking, the company hired to organize and manage the parking while festival organizers focused on the activities.
“We’ve opened up some new parking areas this year and really increased the ingress volume,” he said, explaining the difference in traffic volumes. “So we’re getting cars off the freeways dramatically faster than in years past.”
In the past, all 12,000 parking spots in multiple massive lots were filled. This year, Interstate Parking cut the capacity to 7,000 and asked people to prepay $10 to park or $5 to park and ride a shuttle in.
There was limited park and ride in the past, “But this year, it increased by like eight times,” Janowiec said.
“We built a brand new transit hub on site so we can move thousands of people an hour into the site now.”
As of midday, 90% of people who opted to drive themselves in and park on-site did prepay online, “which is exactly what we’d like to see,” Janowiec said.
The added price was both surprising and worth it, according to Foreman and Dietz.
Dietz ended up paying $30 to park, which has become the general admission parking price (while slots last) for those who did not prepay.
“The festival will continue to get busier, but we’re also opening more park and rides between now and the end of the festival,” Janowiec said. “So we’ll increase that capacity, and we have a lot of unused parking space here as well.”
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival runs each weekend through Oct. 1.
Click here to buy tickets, parking passes, and to find recommended routes to get to the event.