DH and I have a strong opinion about exposing our kids to different activities. We take them to auctions, trade shows, conventions, museums, aquariums, car shows and more. Never are we afraid to take them out to dinner because they know that there is a time and a place for behaving vs playing.
Most people are able to look back in their lives and pinpoint unique experiences that meant more than others. Whether it be a unique restaurant, cool amusement park or simply quality time with a loved one, some memories stand out more than others. During a trip to Chicago, we took the kids to Medieval Times. I’m certain that it will be a night that they remember for years to come.
Anyone familiar with a Medieval Times knows that it is a dinner theater unlike any other dinner theater. For those who haven’t had the privilege to attend, let me fill you in. Not only is it fun, it is amazing. You are transported back in time to, well, medieval times. Kings, Princes, Knights, horses, jousting, wenches and food, food, food. Guests are addressed as m’lord and m’lady. By everyone. For the duration of your stay at the castle, you are treated like royalty.
The website suggests that guests arrive early; the castle doors open 75 minutes prior to the start of the show. Seats aren’t reserved in advance but are distributed on a first-come, first-served manner. King’s Royalty seats ensure front row through all sections or second row in the center. Our Royalty reservations guaranteed us seating closer to the arena but didn’t ensure exactly where. The earlier you arrive, the closer to the front of your designated section. While you’re able to get your seat assignment early, you cannot enter the arena until after some lobby presentations.
The prior tournament was still underway in the arena so the lobby area was pretty empty. We were able to walk around and check out the decorations without interruption. The halls are lined with cool decorations and facts about the times. Looking for a souvenir of your adventure to the past? No lack of options available. In addition to an array of weapons, there were also kids’ swords and shields, crowns and trinkets.
Of course, there’s always the option for some grog. Belly up to the bar and order yourself King’s Goblet filled with your favorite drink. You’re welcome to carry it as you check out the artifacts, see the horses or (for an extra fee) visit the medieval torture museum. Before the doors to the arena open, the King makes a special presentation to knight special guests.
After bearing witness to several guests be knighted, it was finally time to head to our designated seats. We were designated to sit at table 3, cheering on the red & yellow knight. To control the chaos of seating, only certain sections are allowed into the arena at a time. No need to rush the doors; remember your section and table were assigned based on when you arrived at the castle!
As the doors open, it’s dark yet fascinating. Seats are prepped and ready for the big event. All seats have crowns, dishes and napkins. Depending on the seating package selected, seats also include a program and souvenir flag. The only thing lacking are utensils.
Food is consumed sans silverware. When the soup is served, guests slurp directly from the bowl. It’s extremely fun! Gets a bit messy in the later courses but delightfully fun. When I said to arrive hungry, I wasn’t kidding. Seriously… don’t snack beforehand. The amount of food you get is ridiculous. Soup, rib, chicken, potatoes, dessert and drinks. Adult portions and kids portions are exactly the same. Don’t worry, in this medieval realm styrofoam boxes are available for leftovers.
During the entire dinner, you are treated to a show of medieval drama and talent. A story supported by a tournament that includes games of accuracy and jousting. All along, you cheer for your designated knight and the knights on your supporting team. They woo the royal court… They joust… And they battle… But I don’t want to give the entire thing away. It is something you need to experience on your own.
Throughout the tournament, knights are given flowers by the princess each time they are successful during one of their events. Each knight returns to his section and tosses them to the crowd. Our knight gave one to Miss M then turned and addressed Miss K. “I’ll have something special for you.” With each turn, he gently bowed to her and acknowledged with a “I haven’t forgotten you” and “Be patient M’Lady.” Near the end of the tournament, he returned to our section, extended his joust to her. On the end was a special sash naming her “Queen of the Tournament”.
Of course, there’s a whole story happening at the same time, including battles of different types and eventually closing out the event in grand style.
Afterwards, the knights were available in the castle lobby to pose for photos and autographs. Our queen needed to meet her knight in person. He absolutely made her day.
If you’re looking for an event that wraps history, food and entertainment all into one, visit a castle near you. To stay connected with Medieval Times in the digital realm, find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.