Mancation: Day Three. Medieval Times (or “the Dork Knight Returns”)

Good day, m’lord.  I hath come from the fabled land of Schaumburg with tales of feasting and fleecing; horseplay and horse poop. I now know what lies behind the castle walls over yon,and I am many pence the poorer, for I have supped at Medieval Times.

Yes, for Mancation: Day Three, I decided that my young scion and I should be part of a real-life Manowar video.

I’ll totally cop to a mostly-secret affinity for the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Medieval Times is, of course, similar to the Ren Faire, only with a few quickly obvious differences.  For one, the wenches are less lustily dressed at Medieval Times.  At the Ren Faire, the wenches look like extras in an Emilie Autumn video.

  

More noticeably, the level of acting at Medieval Times is (dramatically)better.  The Ren Faire is a seasonal hobby for its denizens; at Medieval Times, it’s a rent-paying career.   The accents, physicality, and conviction of the royals and knights I saw today was much more than I’d ever expect from “dinner theatre.”

Our tickets for the 11 a.m.show indicated that we should arrive by 10.  I naturally assumed that to mean that space was limited.  First come, first serve. Strike while the forge is hot, you know. As it turned out, the 10 a.m. request on the ticket was nothing short of foul trickery, perhaps devised by Morgaine Le Fay herself.  

When we walked in the door at 10, we were given a color-coded “table” assignment.  From there, we were quickly hustled off to a side wall to take a “portrait,” then left to wait in the souvenir hall up until showtime.  That left us with just under 60minutes to kill.  We were totally stuck. 8″ plastic dragon with no points of articulation?  $30.  Diet Coke in a souvenir cup? $5.  Tickets to visit the “dungeon” museum of torture devices?  Couldn’t bring myself to ask.  

It’s a brilliant ploy.  Boredom and inertia drive the captive audience to do foolish things with their money.  I defy you to go through the same experience and not return home with a wooden sword and pointed pink princess hat (or some similar combination).  We could’ve shown up at 10:55 and had no problem getting in.  If you remember nothing else from this blog entry, remember that.  If you buy your tickets in advance, there’s no reason to show up an hour before showtime.

The performance awkwardly starts with a History Channel-like overview of what life was like in Medieval times. We learned about tunics and hygiene.  Chain mail and peasantry.  And it was pretty dull for the most part, except for when the “King” brought the Master Falconer out.  The avian whisperer let the bird of prey do laps around the arena, which caused both my son and I to worry–not about being shred to ribbons by the falcon’s mighty talons, but rather about getting pooped on by the bird.

Once the show transitioned from seminar to tournament, it was pretty irresistible. Jousting,spark-shooting swordplay, beautiful horses thundering around the ring,cheering “your table’s” knight on and vilifying the other knights. Itw as like a WWE event, circa the Middle Ages (though sadly without pyro).

The food plopped onto my pewter plate–roasted chicken, baked potato, corn coblet, and garlic bread–was memorable only because it was served without silverware (just like in Medieval Times!)  We were provided with one napkin apiece, and our wench was impossible to flag down for more. My sole napkin went pretty quick; and, as a result, my pants still smell (and likely taste) like chicken.

Towards the end of the performance, a wench (their terminology, I swear it’s not mine) came to the table with an 8×10 of the portrait my son and I took when we first walked in, mounted in a thick cardboard souvenir frame.  “Would you like to buy it?” she asked.  The picture wasn’t half-bad.

“How much?” I said.

“$20.”

I handed over my credit card.  They got me again.  Well played, Medieval Times, well played.

The price tag for admission is pretty steep, making a trip to Medieval Times something to plan ahead for, rather than do on impulse.  Then, once inside, beware of all the a la carte expenses and impulse purchases.  

Cost aside, my son was bouncing up and down, laughing with excitement through most of the tournament.  This was a thrilling day for him, and he’ll probably be talking about it until he goes back to school on Monday.  Kinda makes the steep price worth it.

And no, I will never be able to think of Medieval Times and not think of “The Cable Guy.” Come back here, so that I may brain thee! 

Check, Please!  I’m sure it’s a personal favorite of Alpana Singh.

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