Fascinating Facts from the Land of Big Fun

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Discover What Makes RiverSouth Unique

What makes each of the attractions in RiverSouth so unique? It’s the interesting facts and figures behind the operations—and some may surprise you.


Canterbury Park
Canterbury Downs (now called Canterbury Park) opened on June 26, 1985. A crowd of 15,079 was joined by then Governor Rudy Perpich to celebrate the first day of pari-mutuel racing in Minnesota. The cost to build the racetrack was $80 million.

Canterbury Park’s stable area includes a 5/8-mile training track, an equine aquatic exercise facility, dormitories, the Dean Kutz Memorial Chapel, racing office and 33 barns with 1,564 horse stalls.

Every thoroughbred that races has a registered name with the Jockey Club.  After being submitted, the names are processed for similarity among more than 430,000 names that are in active use.

Canterbury Park serves more than 22,000 hot dogs each 4th of July.  Lined up end-to-end, they would stretch more than two miles.


Mystic Lake
Mystic Lake Casino will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017. The casino opened in 1992 and has been steadily growing ever since. Mystic Lake has one of the largest gaming floors east of Vegas featuring slots, blackjack and bingo. But there’s a lot more than gaming to enjoy at Mystic Lake. Pamper yourself at The Spa, hit the links on The Meadows at Mystic Lake award-winning championship golf course, enjoy drinks or dinner at one of several distinctive bars and restaurants, catch a show in the state-of-the-art Mystic Showroom, see live stand-up at the Mystic Comedy Club, or catch free live entertainment every weekend on the Promenade Stage.

In 2016, Mystic Lake completed a renovation of nearly 600 hotel rooms. This year also saw groundbreaking for the new Mystic Lake Center, a state-of-the-art meeting and event space. When completed, a new nine-story hotel tower will add 180 hotel rooms to the resort—making it the second-largest hotel in the Twin Cities metro area. Mystic Lake Center will be open to guests by the end of 2017.


Valleyfair, the upper Midwest’s largest amusement park, is celebrating 40 years in 2016. The park has given more than half a billion rides since opening its gates in 1976. The park’s signature hyper-coaster and tallest coaster, Wild Thing, will mark its 20th anniversary by giving its 25 millionth ride this season (that’s not a typo)!

Xtreme Swing debuted on December 19, 2005 with Santa Claus and his elves as the first official riders. The temperature was near zero degrees with the wind chill even colder. The popular Rockettes helped kickstart the ride.

Contrary to popular fiction, Valleyfair’s first roller coaster, High Roller, was built original to the park and is not from the old Excelsior Amusement Park.

Celebrating another anniversary at the park is the Halloween Haunt at ValleySCARE, now in its 10th year.


Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Huzzah! This is the 46th year of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival began its journey in September 1971 on a 22-acre field in Jonathan, Minnesota. More than 25,000 people visited the two-weekend grand opening of the festival then named “A Celebration of Nature, Art, and Life.” That celebration has since relocated to RiverSouth in Shakopee, Minnesota and has grown to be the largest renaissance festival in the United States with an annual attendance of 300,000.

Romeo and Juliet, Robin Hood and Maid Marion—while not true Renaissance characters, the romance that they represent is still alive at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival! With numerous first dates, blind dates, engagements and vow renewals, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival has been a romantic destination since its beginning. There was only one wedding during the first year at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, but since then more than 1,200 couples have proclaimed their vows on the grounds.

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