OnStage North Carolina Columnist
Ever wondered if that Medieval Times place is any fun? Ever gotten invited and thought, “I’m not into that medieval stuff.”
You may want to reconsider. Like me, you may have an unexpectedly large amount of fun.
When I first met my husband seven years ago, he introduced me to a theatrical phenomenon I had never heard of - Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. Today, we have become something like connoisseurs of the experience, having visited six of the nine locations across the country (some of them several times). For us, it has become a hobby and a family activity that we will continue with our children for years to come. If you’ve never had the experience, I highly suggest you go at least once. It is an experience you cannot get anywhere else.
There are several ways to experience the show, and how you go about seeing it is just as important as where or when. The atmosphere is not one where the audience sits back and is simply entertained. It is VERY interactive. You are encouraged to yell and cheer throughout the show, rooting for your knight as he battles the others. Going with a group of couples, coworkers, family or friends can alleviate any self consciousness and make it more fun to participate. (So can a bottle of wine or a stop at the bar in the entryway before the show starts!) It’s a show that’s great for children or adults no matter how much of a theater or medieval era buff you are.
So what are the good and bad aspects of the show? First of all, the show is really theater meets a sporting event. The overall format of the show is always the same no matter what location or day you attend. However, you never know which knight will win each battle. When the knights begin battling each other one-on-one, they eliminate one another tournament style until only one winner remains. And the winner is different every time. So you truly are experiencing a show AND a tournament every time you go. I love the uncertainty of not knowing how the show will end! That fact alone makes it different from most other theater experiences.
On the flip side, do NOT go expecting to be floored by the acting. The storyline is extremely simple and the actors playing the king, the princess, and other members of the royal court serve more as iconic characters than anything else. The real “stars of the show” are the six knights battling for righteous victory.
On that same note, I have attended shows where the knights themselves were… less than enthusiastic about their fight choreography. It takes real commitment to stage combat in order to make it appear genuine. Not all of the knights have that commitment unfortunately, which does ruin some of the magic. But it doesn't happen every time and there are so many other amazing aspects of the show that it is hardly a reason to discredit it as a whole.
The meal is always great as they serve garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potatoes, the pastry of the Castle, coffee and two rounds of select beverages. No silverware is provided, though so everything must be eaten by hand. While this sounds messy and unappetizing, it really isn’t. The food is delicious every time and wet wipes are provided. So even the most neat-freak eaters will be fine with the provided meal.
Dinner, drinks, horses, a flying falcon, a little theater and a whole lot of medieval sport make Medieval Times unique and thrilling no matter how many times you go. I can honestly say, I have enjoyed every show I’ve attended, despite not being a fan of much else that is medieval themed. So if you ever get the opportunity, join the lords and ladies of the medieval realm and raise a toast to victory! Because you won't regret it.