Momma Told Me: Medieval Times: Dinner And A Tournament Experience and Giveaway~ 11/8

Blog Archive

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Medieval Times: Dinner And A Tournament Experience and Giveaway~ 11/8

 
Momma Told Me: At least, if the food is awful, there's entertainment!

When I was young my parents went on a second honeymoon. Never really having a first, it may come as no surprise that the second was more of a weekend vacation. (Hey, you're often lucky to get that, once you have kids). I recall this event not for the lavish overindulgence, as I was much to young to venture to Vegas and had been left with Grandma and Grandpa near Reno, but for the traumatic events that followed. You see, the family had gone to Nevada and I had been passed off to the grandparents, after one night in a hotel with Momma and Papa. Somewhere in this transition, and their 2 night stay at the Excalibur, my beloved Flipper plushie was 'lost'. Looking back, I speculate if this event had been intentional, as my old stuffed dolphin had been quite tattered and stained; and Momma had resurfaced with a much more vibrant dolphin in red crown. There were tails of knights jousting, a giant moat, and how my 'new' Flipper had met the old Flipper on his journey to a permanent 'vacation' at the 'castle'. I was in tears for days, and, needless to say, it was a very long ride home. My distaste for dinner theater began then and there.
As silly as it sounds, I have been genuinely disenchanted with the entire concept of 'dinner theater', to the point of going an entire quarter century without visiting either of the main attractions, just under 2 hours down the road. Here, in Southern California, one has plenty of options for recreation and entertainment. My family is 30 minutes down the coast from Santa Barbara, full of arts and music exhibitions, and less than 2 hours outside of Los Angeles, host of the Staples and Honda Centers, and just as close to 4 major amusement parks, including Disneyland. In fact, it seems like everyone who journeys for a weekend trip to Knott's has inevitably stopped in at Medieval Times for Dinner and a Tournament. And, until a week back, I was the only one in my circle of friends and family who had not been at least once, many of whom had been yearly to catch the varying shows.
Traumatic childhood dolphin-napping aside, I am certain I had previously fallen into the polar category; the dinner theater skeptics and nay-sayers. While I'm colorful, quirky, and always up for something new, there has simply been a stigma, a sort of unfair prejudice in my mind, when it came to Medieval Times. I don't want to sound too negative, though I know I am not alone, but the concept of sitting around a dirt arena cheering for costume clad horse riders, while waving a rib, seems kind of cheesy. I can see bringing the family for a day of loosely educational fun and fare, but 2 adults attending, that was a bit far fetched. So, when we arrived at our local Buena Park location, just one of 9 locations nationwide, I was a bit surprised to see the parking lot quickly filling for the afternoon show. And, while there were quite a few families, attendees ages ranged vastly from seniors to young couples, and tourists. Maybe there was something to this after all!
The exterior wasn't as elaborate as some of the other locations, as I had seen online, but the layout was certainly reminiscent of castle, with several minor attractions to pass the time, while waiting for your show. I'd suggest you show up at least an hour early to check out your particular locations' offerings. Here at Buena Park our visit began with a snapshot alongside the Princess and an optional visit to the mini-Museum of Torture (just $2 extra). From there we continued into and through the beautifully landscaped courtyard, past the bar and into an equally elaborate souvenir shop. Merchandise seemed to sprawl from one wall to the next, ranging  from small trademarked trinkets to replica swords and stuffed fantasy characters. I could certainly see myself coming her a few times a year and building a period wardrobe from the various corsets, sinchers, and braces. Off to the left of all the souvenir counters was yet another functioning bar and throne room, where first time visitors were 'knighted'. And, just beyond that was a beautiful room adorned with the knights' crests and windows offering a view of the horses in their stables.

Just before the show was to begin seating we were all  told to gather around the castle herald for a brief rundown of the courtesy rules (one of which a request not to bang the pewter dishes, which could spook the horses). Then everyone was seated by color section, according to the paper crowns we had been handed upon arrival. Once inside we proceeded down towards the front row of our (Red) section to collect our complimentary program and seats, as we had received our FREE Royalty Upgrade, thanks to the current Buena Park promotion. While there were many wenches bustling back and forth, we had a male server, who immediately requested our choice of beverage from a selection of minimal choices. We were also instructed that we could not cheer for the knights whose colors were seen on the opposite side of the arena, but that we should feel free to get involved and cheer any of the 3 on our half. A hearty portion of  'Dragon's Blood' (tomato) soup, and a wedge of bread, was served and the lights soon dimmed to signal the start of the show.
I was happy to note that there was a bit of pageantry at the beginning of the show, from the parading of the mystical white steed, to the court falconer.  The show also seemed to be ingeniously timed to allow for ample serving and digesting periods between courses and action sequences. Medieval Times stories rotate annually, at a minimum, though I am told the formula is kept much the same. Our tale informed us that the Princess was holding a grand feast in the King's honor, at which the 6 great Knights of The Court were to perform in an exhibition of games and good natured jousting.  Just as the games were beginning our server brought around the utensil free main course, 'Baby Dragon' (a half chicken), 2 potato wedges, and a single rib. The food was delicious, though the potatoes could have used some seasoning, or a little sauce; my only complaint was for more ribs. I could have eaten an entire rack, they were so tender and flavorful! I also found it odd that the server was forced to limit us to just 1 refill; though it's best to keep in mind that they do have to make a considerable amount of trips up and down steep stairs with large trays. Always tip your wench/server well, I say!

Just as my plate was beginning to empty the plot, so to say, began to thicken. The games were interrupted by an unwelcome visitor, demanding the hand of the fair princess as an offer of peace, to unite their realms. Truth be told, I was far more entertained by the jousting, and action than the actual plot, but noticed several of the crowd getting fairly invested in the honor of our fair Princess and her father, the King. The games themselves were actually rather exciting, with a rally of horseback runs that had the trained knights genuinely competing against one another for precision and timing tasks. At the end of each pairing the knights would approach the Princess, who would toss down earned carnations, as a token of her admiration. The knights would then return to their color sections and engage the crowd, tossing them out to the fairest patrons. It's here where I note that there was a generous variation of knights, the majority 'authentic' in appearance (save the suspiciously hairless Green Knight). In any case, it's this maiden's opinion that we had the most strapping of the 6, the Red Knight with his long flowing mane, and unmatched affection for his steed. (He was also quite good at the games!)
Moving towards dessert, an apple filled pastry, the token villain resurfaced  again, and the protective nests were cast down, as the knights began to fight one another (first on horse, then on foot), for the right to defend the princess' honor. I recall I scoffed the first time I'd heard a past visitor recollect their visit with the term 'sparks fly', a response I now feel foolish for. There were several sparks flying as steel met steel, clanking from sword to mace to shield, to armor! By this point it was hard not be invested in the outcome, involuntarily cheering, and waving my fist with jeers, when our knight seemed to take a fall. Not only was the action exciting, but the knights really utilized the majority of their space, leaping and rolling from one end of the arena to the other; the majority of the action fairly centralized.

After the last knight had fallen, the Green standing victorious, it was time to take down the formidable, yet shaggy, villain. I'll be honest, I was less invested when I saw it was not our knight, defending the court's honor, but this was perhaps the most nail-biting match of all. I can only imagine the number of practice hours and choreography these actors must go through to hit timing marks, and stay safe while entertaining. There were several 'close calls', where the match could have gone either way- but I'm certain nobody was surprised to see the 'good guy' emerge victorious. Yes, Medieval Times certainly provided that satisfying feel good ending. Best of all, I found myself at the end of the show fairly refreshed- the time had flown by, only dragging in the very beginning as pageantry and exhibition passed time during serving.
In all, I think I'd love to attend Medieval Times in a group, where we could truly get invested in our 'color' and cheer together for our knight. The food was rather delicious for a static menu that remains standard year round, and the experience itself was much more than a meal and a show. Our local Medieval Times offers plenty to do and see, outside of the paid admission, just beware of the fluffy and shiny baubles that will bleed your wallet within minutes. It's hard not to buy souvenirs with such a large variety! Right now you can take advantage of a free Royalty Upgrade, with preferred seating and a program ($20 value), with each paid adult admission to the Buena Park location. This really extends the value of your visit, and is a great addition for newbies, like me! We even got to take home a 'behind the scenes' DVD, where we could get an inside look into the production of a Medieval Times show. The memories you'll make, and the fun you'll have, will last long after your visit; if only the food could come home with you too!

What Daughter Says: Medieval Times will have even the staunchest dinner theater skeptics cheering.
One lucky Momma Told Me reader will snag themselves a Family 4 Pack of Tickets to a Medieval Times show at any of the 9 locations nationwide! Check locations here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

70 comments:

  1. I would go to the nearest one which is an hour and a half away in lyndhurst nj.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cool! I've never been to anything like that before, sounds like tons of fun and something I would enjoy!

    It's amazing how traumatic losing a beloved toy as a child can be, my husband tied a balloon to his beloved superman as a kid and then let go of it and it flew away. He was 3 and he still remembers it so vividly it brings him to tears.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would go to the New Jersey location :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember Medieval TImes so well! So much fun. I was the queen once there:)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I went to something similar in Spain. would like to come to one here - Schaumburg, il

    ReplyDelete
  6. I adore Medieval Times! that's where I we went for Valentine's Day at my request:-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lyndhurst Castle or maybe Toronto on our summer vacay next year

    ReplyDelete
  8. Orlando, Fl is the closest one! My fb is Michelle Trump and my email is tracietrump@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. If I won I'd be going to the one in Orlando Florida

    ReplyDelete
  10. I would go to Buena Park

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  11. ohh man, I've always wanted to go to Medieval Times! I would go to the Buena Park Castle!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh I would love to experience this!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've always wanted to go to one of these!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Myrtle Beach!

    Name on rafflecopter: Mary Happymommy

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow - it looks like you had an amazing time! The next time I am near one I'll have to check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I would go to the Buena Park location

    button:
    http://frugalcalimom.blogspot.com

    I am entering as Elena

    elena150980 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'd be going to the Kissimmee location off of Vineland Road

    Nathansmommy619(At)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  18. If i won id be going to baltimore/washington D.C

    darleneysaguirre@yahoo.com


    ReplyDelete
  19. We would visit the Lyndhurst, NJ location.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I LOVE Medieval Times!!! I would take my kids to the Buena Park, California location that I've been to several times.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I would go to Lyndhurst NJ

    sibabe64 at ptd dot net

    ReplyDelete
  22. Orlando for me!

    ykatrina at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I would go to the one in Washington, D.C.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What a great post! You made me feel like I was there with you. I'll be back to enter later, the form isn't working.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I added your button to my sidebar
    http://conniescornershelf.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. id visit the atlanta location
    gabbflabber@live.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. I would like to go to Orlando.

    ReplyDelete
  28. We would visit the Buena Park, CA one!

    ReplyDelete
  29. We would visit the Dallas, TX location.

    suebee05@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  30. I would go to the one in Lyndhurst NJ.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Schaumburg, IL for us. We are really close to there and MT is really fun

    ReplyDelete
  32. I would go to Orlando, FL!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  33. i go t the one in baltimore/ washington dc

    ReplyDelete
  34. We would visit the location in Dallas.

    ReplyDelete
  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Myrtle Beach, SC

    Allison Lancaster on rafflecopter

    ReplyDelete
  37. blogged:

    http://frugalcalimom.blogspot.com/2012/10/medieval-times-giveaway.html

    entering as Elena

    elena150980 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'd visit the Buena Park, CA location.
    winit6@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  39. Kissimmee, Florida

    thransom@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. The one in Buena Park! I've never been!

    ReplyDelete
  41. chicago or toronto, depending on when i went and with whom :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Dallas, TX would be our choice (and my kid's wanted to go for some time)

    ReplyDelete
  43. would be wonderful to see one in California, Buena Park I think.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Chicago!!! I have only been there once & i have always wanted to go back

    ReplyDelete
  45. Chicago!!! I have only been there once & i have always wanted to go back

    ReplyDelete
  46. I'd visit the Dallas location! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Gena

    ReplyDelete
  47. the dc one for sure! glad they are near me!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Orlando
    radeeolover at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  49. I would visit the one in Dallas.

    ReplyDelete
  50. The one in Kissimmee! I went to a wedding there once and it's a very nice venue.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'd visit the Chicago one

    (jen487@Hotmail.com)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Chicago is the closest but myrtle beach would be fun

    ReplyDelete
  53. My kids would go nuts if they could finally go see this. I would go to the Baltimore castle. wilcarvic
    [at]gmail[dotcom]]

    ReplyDelete
  54. i would go to the one in dallas texas!
    edgesmama@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete