Don Frantz produces great shows. As a Broadway producer, he helped bring to the stage such Tony Award-winning musicals as The Lion King and Beauty & The Beast.
As a producer of special events, he led the creation of such multimedia extravaganzas as the long-running SpectroMagic parade at Walt Disney World and the Dynamite Nights Stunt Spectacular at Universal Studios Florida. Super Bowl half time shows? Been there. World’s Fair exhibitions? Done that.
But perhaps none of these shows represent Mr. Frantz’s most unique and successful contribution to popular culture. For you see, Don Frantz is also the Father of the Corn Maze.
That’s right, you heard us. The corn maze – that now-classic, down-home tourist attraction that seems to appear every autumn in every community across America. The one that consistently lures your neighbours and their loved ones to spend a couple of hours trying to find their collective way through miles of twisting trails carved into acres and acres of 10-foot tall stalks of corn.
So, how did a Broadway producer get the idea for a corn maze? He asked himself a question. One night in 1991, he read a four-sentence press summary describing an upcoming festival of historic hedgerow mazes to be held at various English castles, and he asked himself, “What would it take to create one of these massive mazes in the United States?” The answer was far from obvious, because hedgerow mazes take many years – and are exorbitantly expensive – to grow.
Fortunately, two days later, Mr. Frantz took a whole new perspective on his question – literally. While flying cross-country on a business trip, he looked out the window…and suddenly the answer was perfectly clear.
For underneath those spacious skies were mile after mile of cornfields, with row after row of tall green stalks blowing gently in the wind.
In 1993 – after he and a small army of helpers spent two years asking and answering many more questions – Mr. Frantz opened the world’s first corn maze on a farm in Annville, Pennsylvania. That three-acre maze – cut in the shape of an enormous dinosaur and officially designated by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest – attracted 11,000 visitors in just three days, raised $55,000 for farmers who had been victimized by floods earlier that year, and launched what has become a worldwide phenomenon.
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