Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Royal Ripoff - King Richard's Faire

My dear hubby Jon has been begging me for the last two years to go to King Richard's Faire, an 80-acre plot of land in Carver, MA that has been transformed into the Medieval times. Every year I try to pull the "selective hearing" thing and ignore his requests as I'm a homegrown Rhode Islander and a 45-minute drive one way is considered a "day trip" to us.

Jon, however, was relentless this year and since his birthday is in September and he's getting old turning the BIG 3-0, I figured I'd surprise him with a trip.

The King Richard's Faire runs only on weekends from 8/31 through 10/20. This does include Labor Day and Columbus Day - the only two weekdays the Faire is open. Gates open at 10:30 in the morning and everything shuts down at 6pm.

I spent yesterday morning searching endlessly for some sort of "deal" on tickets. I searched endlessly on the major daily deal sites like Groupon, Eversave and Livingsocial. Of course none had any deals on these SUPER EXPENSIVE TICKETS.

There are two types of tickets: expensive and more expensive. Just kidding, somewhat.

Adult admission is $28 and child admission is $16. If you order online, there is a $2/per ticket fee, but you can pay via credit card. If you buy tickets upon arrival, it is cash only and you wait in a HUMONGOUS line.

AAA does offer a promotional code and a printable coupon you can use to reduce your cost $2 per ticket (or $4 if you buy online). The information on AAA's website specifies you're supposed to have a AAA membership, however, it never asked me for mine (I do have one). You can use promo code AAA-SNE-M online to reduce the price by $2 plus get rid of the $2 online fee. My husband and I paid a STEEP $51.76 total for admission. Because we printed our tickets at home, we got to skip the enormous ticket line and walk right in.

Luckily, parking is free, yet very tight - make sure whoever is driving is a better driver than me, otherwise you may just be forced to stay at the Faire until your car-neighbors leave and you can safely exit the parking lot without hitting anyone else.

Upon arrival, one major con is there is absolutely no re-admission. Once you're in, you're stuck. For as long as you plan on being there. Forgot something in the car? Tough luck. Want to drop off your bag o' goodies that you bought at the Faire? Sorry buster. You better make the trip worth it, you just spent a butt-load of your hard earned cash to get in.

Once inside, you really will feel like you took Doc Brown's DeLorean back to Medieval Times. All staff members and most visitors dress, speak and otherwise act as though they are authentic Medieval villagers. I'm a terrible starer. I gawk and stare without realizing it - never maliciously or for ill-reasons, but because I'm typically in shock and awe or are enamored by what I see. Well, my husband had to hit me about 5 million times because he caught me gawking at other people in their authentic garb.

Some of the costumes were just absolutely breathtaking. Some people had REAL chain maile on; some women hard corsets that pushed their assets so high they had their own built-in TV-dinner tray. People who dressed the part truly could have been abducted out of King Arthur's Court and dropped off in 2013.

Once inside the park, there were lots of different areas to walk through. My husband and I quickly noticed that nearly everything inside the park had an additional fee. You could throw knives or axes, shoot arrows at the archery station, have a wax hand mold made, have your face or other body part painted - all for an extra fee.

After spending nearly $52 just to walk into the park, Jon and I were a bit miffed that all of the activities within the park were so much extra money. As a result, we didn't partake in any of these activities - our purse strings were pulled too tight.

But the fees for the activities were NOTHING compared to the fees for the food and beverages. And there is absolutely NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINK ALLOWED.

You have to buy tickets at a booth in order to buy food and drinks. Tickets are $1/each and are only sold in packs of $5. This would be great if the items you wanted ended up working out to multiples of $5. There are no refunds on food tickets. They do serve beer, which made Jon happy, but food and drinks are outrageously priced.

  • 10 tickets for a beer
  • 8 tickets for chicken fingers with fries
  • 4 tickets for queen soda (small/medium)
  • 5 tickets for king soda (large)
  • 3 tickets for water
On the flip side, their nifty little pamphlet outlines gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian options. I thought this was really great, especially since dear hubby is lactose intolerant and of course forgot his pills.

My husband and I spent nearly another $50 in food tickets and then had to force ourselves to buy stupid snacks before we left just to use up the last of our tickets. So now, our trip was up to just under a $100 and we hadn't even really done anything.

The entertainment at the Faire was really the best part of the whole day, that is if you don't mind the rest of society's lack of manners. I'm a measly 4'11, so I got about 50 elbows to the face throughout the day. I was pushed, poked, hit with walking sticks/wizard wands (I'm hoping by accident) and had the ever-so-wonderful pleasure of having 6 foot + men waltz in front of me to view a show after I waited FOREVER to get a decent spot.

The Wenches show was really funny, but not at all kid-friendly. One of the wenches shoved a man's face in her crotch for at least 2-3 minutes. Then another roll along the ground, with her feet in the air (in a dress) and told the audience that a man whose shorts she looked up "appeared to be Irish."

Jon and I also happened to catch the Special Event of the weekend - the Cleavage Contest. Yes, you heard me - the Cleavage Contest. And yes, there were lots of kids in the audience. The contest involved lots of shimmying, shaking, a trampoline and men (and some women) throwing cash into contestants' cleavage elbow-deep.

So who won? It was down to two lovely ladies -- the winner ended up with almost $300 shoved down her chest... She got to keep half. The other half "went to charity." I'm hoping that's really the case.

So the bottom line for me and my husband: What should have been a royal-good time was really just a royal ripoff. This attraction is too over-priced for us. I'm grateful we don't have children and didn't bring our niece or nephew. We would have had to take on a part time job to pay off the debt we'd be left in at the end of the day. The admission fee is too high to then be charging an arm and a leg for everything within the grounds. And while the shows are entertaining, there are too many (rude) spectators and not enough seating/area to stand. Additionally, while some things are kid-friendly, much of it has a lot of adult humor and I certainly don't want to be answering those awkward questions on the ride home from the Faire.

Disclaimer: My husband and I paid for the entire trip out of own pockets. We were not asked to attend or provided any compensation by any sponsor. All opinions are 100% our own.

Happy Couponing!
-Coupon Mama Massachusetts

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