Thursday, October 12, 2006

Medieval Times, a get-a-way for the young at heart

Knights in shining armor, prancing steeds, a king and a lovely princess in an arena surrounded by royalty being served by lovely wenches. That functional fragment could be the dreams of an kid who has been reading Arthurian legend, or an ad for Medieval Times, a dinner theatre with venues around the country.

Hubby and I took our teenaged children to see this spectacle, not in a “tourist” area, but in Gwinnett County, GA, at a shopping mall. The stands around the arena were mostly filled for a Sunday evening show in early October. The 13 year boy seemed to enjoy this experience even more than parents or older sister, but we all found something to like.

Dinner is served w/o flatware, which wasn’t in common use way-back-when, but the staff managed to make it tasty and manageable. Our courses included a rather thin vegetable soup, served in a pewter bowl, a roasted half of a chicken, one barbecued rib, garlic bread, and a “baked potato” which tasted suspiciously fried. Our meal ended with heated disposable wipes and an apple-cinnamon pastry. The beverages offered were water, Pepsi, and coffee. Those aren’t especially in keeping with the time period, but I suppose that ale just doesn’t work for a modern “family” entertainment.

The horses were great, the knights did a fine job of re-creating jousting, even if they just jumped off of the horses. The lances split apart regularly, no doubt because they had been pre-split and bound back together with a bit of clear tape. Okay, the story line was a bit pointless, but it is just a bit of a frame for the knights to demonstrate their skills anyway. Compared to the online photos, the “arena” is a bit cramped, but it is remarkable, considering that it takes up less space than the cinemas section of the mall.

Two words of advice to those who visit this venue: First, don’t arrive early. Our show was at five, and the directions on our internet issued tickets instructed us to be at the castle no later than 3:30, and that advice was reiterated by the attendant at the box office. This was too early. After a few minutes I surmised that the schedule is designed to give visitors ample time to be photographed with royalty, to buy overpriced merchandise, and to drink at the bar. Hubby got a “virgin” piña colada, for a mere $6.00 and cokes were $2.00. An hour and a half is far too long to wait for a show that lasts about the same length of time. The doors to the arena opened at 4:45, and those who purchase “royalty tickets” get to sit in front of everyone else, so if you want the best seat, don’t arrive early, just pay the extra ten bucks, arrive about 20 minutes before the show, and you won’t have time for your kids to beg for the overpriced drinks and trinkets. Second, the “dungeon” museum of torture and terror is only $2.00 and our kids loved it, but it is a bit much for those younger than age ten.

This was an expensive evening for us, but it is fun, and I recommend it for school age kids and adults of most any age who are willing to suspend disbelief for a couple of hours.

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