Last weekend our family and some friends went to Medieval Times, a medieval dinner/jousting experience in Schaumburg. It was a lot of fun!
The experience brings you back to an eleventh-century king's feast and tournament. You get served a four course meal by a wench (well, in our case we had a self-proclaimed mensch- a male wench!) You eat with your hands. You wear a crown. And you watch knights ride around on horses, jousting and fighting for the championship.
When you go, you should go a little bit early to take in all of the pageantry. As you enter, you are given a crown, and then have your picture taken with a princess or a lord, for possible purchasing afterwards. You are also assigned to a color (the color of your knight, who you will be cheering for) You then enter a great ante-room, which is also the gift shop, bar, dance floor, and fun area. (Yes, they make no bones about it-- here you ENTER through the gift shop.)
Before too long the king's minister came out to make some announcements, sounding like a medieval flight attendant. Finally, you get to enter the arena, which is approximately the size of a football field. The arena is in the round, with tables and seats flanking the playing area, and go up probably 6 or 7 rows. Every seat has a very good view. I estimated that the arena can seat around 1000 people, maybe even more.
The food is served in between portions of the show. The menu is the same for everyone-- chicken, corn, roasted potato, tomato soup, garlic bread, and a pastry. No silverware, you eat with your hands just like eleventh-century nobility did. My wife has some dietary issues, and they were pretty accomodating, with gluten free and vegetarian options. The food was quite good, especially considering that they were turning out about 1000 meals per show. You can also get served libations, including ale, mead, wine, and soft drinks. I am pretty sure Ye Olde Pepsi is not a medieval drink, but what the heck!
The show was fun, with lots of swashbuckling, horsemanship, and a falconry exhibition. I joked to my wife afterwards that it was like a circus, but without the clowns. (There was some chatter/repartee between the king and the princess as a lead in to some of the competitions, but it wasn't comedy.) In fact, now that I think about it, it's a little surprising there was not a comedy element to this. A jester lampooning the jousting, or a comedy fire juggling act with a pre-renaissance feel would go over quite well. (Shades of Game of Thrones!)
The stage combat was pretty good, and thrilling to see.
Here's a 30 second video of the end of one of the swashbuckling fights:
And here's a video I took of 2 and half minutes of fighting, including some jousting!
As you can see, the fighting is pretty entertaining.
Over all, this is a great event for families, and group gatherings (work buddies, etc) My kid and his friends had a wonderful time. (And so did we parents!)
There are nine castles throughout the United States, and my guess is that they will build a few more over the next couple of years.
To find out more about Medieval Times in your area, go to http://www.medievaltimes.com