I have to admit, I didn’t quite know what to expect as we walked into Medieval Times. I mean, the reputation kind of precedes it (i.e., The Cable Guy), so I suppose I was prepared for an evening of cheesy theatrics masquerading as entertainment.
I was not prepared to be genuinely entertained…and surprised at how well-executed the entire experience is.
We visited the Baltimore Castle, which—despite the name—is actually located about 20 minutes south of Baltimore.
This location is actually part of a huge mall, but from the outside, it really does resemble a castle. Even before we had parked, the kids were excited.
As you enter, you’re assigned a colored (paper) crown, which designates your seating section. The doors to the arena / show area don’t open until just a few minutes before showtime, so everyone is left to mingle about the gift shop. Of course.
There’s lot of chintzy plastic stuff for sale—swords, crowns, etc. There’s a “dungeon,” which apparently is a small museum, for an additional fee. And there’s a bar. That’s where most people were.
Pay attention to the guy overhead shouting instructions. He’s hard to hear over everyone just milling about, but he’s actually telling you how people will enter the arena. It’s not intuitive. They allow staggered entry, and—at least when we were there—it’s a bit of a mess. People who thought they were waiting in a line actually weren’t. And then when the doors opened, there was basically a mass of people moving in the same direction.
We finally made it to our seats, though.
In a nutshell: There are six different seating sections. Each section is colored, and each color has a corresponding knight. Wherever you’re sitting, you have a knight to cheer on. The knights are actually very good riders, and most of them are fairly good actors, too! My guess is that many of them take on summer work at a Renaissance Festival.
The horses, though, are beautiful. Medieval Times has more than 400 horses spread out over their nine locations (and Texas ranch), and they are obviously the reason people visit…and return.
The show consists of several different “acts.” There is a storyline concerning King Carlos and Princess Catalina, a herald to the King of the North, and a Tournament of Knights…but that’s really all inconsequential. Most people just want to see horses, jousting, and some fighting.
And in that respect, Medieval Times doesn’t disappoint. The show has been around for a long time (astonishingly, it began in Florida in 1983), and for anything to survive that long—let alone a dinner theater show—it has to have some merit.
As I said, there are several acts in the show. Some feature a single stallion performing tricks; some are full-on jousting tournaments. If you find yourself sitting at Medieval Times, then chances are you’ll find something in the show to make you happy.
The Tournament of Knights has several events, including rings (they use jousts to spear small and large rings), jousting, and sword fighting.
The tournament even has an elimination factor as the six knight slowly knock one another out of the contest. By the end of the show, only one knight is left standing. This adds quite a bit of spectator involvement since each section is theoretically rooting for its own knight.
By the way, we sat in the yellow section. The yellow knight won. Boo-yah.
But what about the food? This is a dinner show, right? Included with your admission is His Majesty’s Royal Feast: oven roasted chicken, garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, herb-roasted potato, spare rib, dessert pastry, and soda (or iced tea).
Is it any good? Surprisingly, it’s not bad. The chicken and spare rib were actually quite tender and tasty. The garlic bread was run-of-the-mill Texas Toast, but there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Soup and potato were nothing to write home about, and the cake was pretty much what you’d expect.
All in all, it was better than I expected but far from “high cuisine.” But again, you’re not here for the food, are you? You’re here to watch knights try to knock one another off horses while you eat spare ribs with your hands. (Yes, no utensils are provided. Drink your soup from the bowl. Eat your chicken with your hands. Drink your soda from the….cup.)
But we had a great time! The entertainment quality was top-notch. The theatrics were impressive. The acting was….about on par with what you’d expect, actually. The food was surprisingly good. And the whole experience turned out to be one I’d recommend.
With one caveat….the price.
The normal adult rate at the Baltimore location (before tax and tip) is $59.95. Children 12 and under are $36.95. I don’t care how you slice it, that’s expensive. A family of four runs $200+ for one meal. That’s prohibitively expensive for most people. And packages go up from there.
Discounts are readily available online, but they only go so far.
With that said, this is not a spur-of-the-moment dinner plan. However, if you’re making an occasion of it, such as for a birthday or other special day, then I think it’s perfectly reasonable.
It’s an expensive outing, but will you really head to Medieval Times every week for dinner? Make an event out of it, go with the proper mindset, and you’ll enjoy yourself fully.