Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Let's Visit Medieval Times: A Jersey Momma Review

Being the planner that I am, I searched the internet for a review of Medieval Times ages ago and could never quite find what I was looking for. I wanted an honest opinion on what age group this show was for, what it entailed, how the food was (that's just how I am, you know?). And since I never found exactly what I was looking for out there, I decided to see the show for myself and bring you my very own review (because I know I can't be the only one out there wondering what Medieval Times is all about!). This is not a sponsored post (although MT people, I'd be more than happy to come back and review a king's court package or something for you if you're offering! Just sayin'....).  And remember, my posts are designed for easy reading, so feel free to scroll to find the information you're looking for.

Foreword

Before I write anything about Medieval Times, I just want to point out that we visited the location in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. And I loved it.  I mean, loved it. There are a bunch of things to consider before taking your family and children (which I'll get to in a minute), but I can't say enough good things about this show and how much we enjoyed it. It was just so much fun.  I mean, real, honest, awesome fun. And the Lyndhurst crew itself was amazing- the knights, the performers, everyone. The amount of work and effort these people put into these shows- it's not lost on me, I assure you. They were all spectacular. I especially appreciated the bond they have with their horses and how much work they put into forming that bond. It was really special to witness and very impressive.  Kudos to all of you, hard-working folks of Medieval Times, Lyndhurst!  I will forever be your humble servant, the loyal Jersey Momma!  Now, on with the review...

The Jersey Momma's Boy's souvenir fencing sword (it lights up!)

What is Medieval Times?

Medieval Times is essentially a live-action dinner show. You are immersed in the whole experience, from entering a 'real' castle, watching knights joust, horses dance and falcons fly, to eating a 'feast' solely with your hands (no utensils!). There's lots of cheering and booing, flags waving, knights bowing, and swords flashing.

This beautiful horse was dancing!

Where is Medieval Times?

There are Medieval Times located in New Jersey, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina, California, Illinois, Florida and Ontario, Canada.  But the one we visited was in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.

What Will I See Upon Arriving at Medieval Times?

Well, each Medieval Times is a little bit different around the country, but if you are visiting the one in New Jersey, you will arrive at a building that looks like a castle (The Jersey Momma's Boy was squealing as soon as we pulled up- just the sight of it is exciting).


Inside is equally exciting, with authentic-looking castle decor and staff dressed entirely in medieval costumes. Everyone was courteous and friendly, and once checked in, they presented us with seat assignments and paper crowns to let us know which knight we would be routing for (there are six knights, each a different color). We were proudly routing for the Yellow Knight (and his allies, the Red Knight and the Black and White Knight).


They asked if we wanted to visit the 'castle dungeon' for a few extra dollars, which featured replicas of medieval torture devices. Being that we had The Jersey Momma's Boy with us (and he is only 8), we passed on that one!


We were also offered the opportunity to take a photo with his royal highness, King Don Carlos, but our entire party hadn't arrived yet, so we decided to wait (and we never did get back to have that picture taken, so if you hope to purchase your souvenir photo later on, I recommend just taking it as soon as you come in, even if your whole party isn't present).

Before the Show

Doors open 75 minutes before your actual show time, so if you've never been to Medieval Times before, I recommend coming early so you have a chance to see everything and explore. It was so exciting for my son (and for all of us, I must admit). It really looked like the inside of a castle!

The ceiling of the main lobby inside the castle

There were tons of fun souvenir stands selling light-up swords, wooden shields, authentic swords, princess crowns, royal 'jewels' and more. They had just about every item you could imagine, even dragon items (though there aren't any dragons in the show). It was really fun to see everyone walking around with paper crowns on. And I mean everyone. All ages.


You can get a drink at the bar in the lobby (alcoholic or non-alcoholic). The Jersey Momma's Boy got an awesome frosty blue raspberry drink in a light-up souvenir cup. The souvenir cup drinks weren't cheap, but I do really like the cup he got (pictured below) and I'm sure he'll use it again. You don't have to purchase the decorative cups if you don't want to shell out the extra dollars. I purchased The King's Sangria for $9.00 sans souvenir goblet, and it wasn't bad.


Our chancellor (kind of like the host of the whole show) was present in the main lobby, and talked to the crowd throughout, letting us know when the show would start.  He was very charismatic and charming (as he should be, right?).  Oh, and even though we were in 'medieval times,' there was still wi-fi! I thought this sign was kind of funny:


Celebrating Special Events at Medieval Times

If you happen to be celebrating a birthday (which we were, but our birthday guest did not want any attention drawn to himself- party pooper Mr. Jersey Momma!), or even a special occasion, there was a desk you could visit to register a message or greeting that the chancellor and king would read out during the show (and I do recommend this if you're celebrating something- it was fun to hear them reading out the announcements during the show. They read off so many different greetings, from 3rd birthdays to 75th birthdays! Wedding celebrations, anniversary celebrations, there was a little of everything).

Hall of Arms

While you're waiting for the show to start, you can visit the 'Hall of Arms,' which is a display of swords, knights' armor, shields and more. The dungeon entrance is also located here if you happened to pay the extra money to see it.

The Jersey Momma's Boy at the Hall of Arms

I caved in and bought myself a souvenir near the Hall of Arms. I couldn't resist all of the fake jewels! Here's a picture of my gorgeous ruby ring, which is valued at six hundred dollars, of course. I opted not to show it to you on my wrinkly hand. You can thank me later for that.


Entering the Show Arena

Seating is first come, first served. This made me nervous in the planning stages, because I had a mental picture of all of us struggling to find seats together and guests pushing each other out of the way to get good seats. That's not how it worked. When we arrived, they checked us in and gave us temporary passes, essentially locking in our table number and section, so we were already set. When the doors of the arena opened, we just headed up to our table number. The seats are in sets of eight in long rows, and the whole arena is tiered, so no matter where you are, you have a decent view of the show. We were seated in the very top row in the yellow section, and they were still great seats. There were seven of us, so we had one extra seat in our row on the end. **Note:  If you want the best, best seats, you can purchase a VIP pass for an added cost. This allows you to enter the arena before everyone else and guarantees you the better seats in the house. My guess is that they put you closer to the king and where the knights enter the arena. This didn't matter too much to me when I booked our tickets, but perhaps in the future we will try one of the ticket upgrades (they offer several different kinds and each have their perks, so be sure to check out their website for more info). If we ever have the opportunity to experience the show from a different vantage point or with a different package, I'll be sure to come back here and update this post!


Here you can also purchase a flag to wave for your beloved knight (we got The Jersey Momma's Boy a yellow flag for $5.00). I think this was a good purchase and he loved waving that flag around during the show. He was mad that the rest of us didn't purchase flags (and again, if you purchase one of the ticket upgrades, some of them include flags with your cost or as part of a package).

The flag of the Yellow Knight now hanging in the room of The Jersey Momma's Boy!

You can also check out the menu now, which is printed on your napkin.


We had heard so many stories about the food here ('you can call your server a wench! You have to eat everything with your hands! They give you a giant turkey leg!').  So I was curious to experience it all for myself (scroll down to read more about the meal itself if you want to skip to the food).

The Show

The show was amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. The King and the Princess sit at the top of the arena, and they welcome in all of the knights on their horses, as well as their squires. Our favorite chancellor is also there to guide us through everything. There's lots of colored lights and dramatic music, smoke and colored flags. It was just so exciting on so many levels!


So maybe you'll be a little disappointed, but I don't want to describe the entire show in detail to you. Nope, that would be a huge spoiler. I can just tell you what you'll see in a nutshell:

  • Falconry:  this was seriously cool. I mean, a falcon flies around at super-fast speeds right in front of you. I am a huge bird nerd so this was pretty thrilling for me, but my family was equally excited and they are not birders like me.
  • Gorgeous Horses: Medieval Times takes so much pride in their stallions, and with good reason. These horses steal the show with their beauty, intelligence and skills. They were incredible to watch- dancing, running, prancing. And they seemed so proud, as if they knew they were 'royal' horses.
  • Competitive Games: the knights compete for your entertainment, participating in all kinds of games on horseback. It's so much fun to cheer for them (and to BOOOOOO for your knight's competitors!)
  • Jousting: YES!!!  Jousting! You actually get to see them joust right in front of you! Need I say more?
  • Hand to Hand Combat: sword fights and hand to hand combat scenes are also exciting to watch. DON'T WORRY they are not overly violent or bloody. In fact, there is no fake blood and no one even really dies. Squires help defeated knights exit the arena, so young guests can see that there is no real death (although they do simulate being stabbed or cut). 
  • Flowers: knights present flowers to the ladies after they win certain competitions (ours threw them into the audience). The final winning knight will even pick one fair maiden from the audience to present a flower and sash to. Our winning Red and Yellow Knight chose an adorable little girl from the third or fourth row over and presented her with the sash and flower (and probably a beautiful memory for the rest of her life). It was so sweet!
  • Villains: we had a surprise guest visit from the north, a villain who needed to be stopped! He had a certain Game of Thrones aspect to him, which I totally appreciated. I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, too.


Is the Show Scary or Frightening for Kids?

I, personally, did not think it was scary at all.  There was no blood and no 'death,' although there is fighting and some authentic-looking weapons (battle-axes, swords, etc). There are moments where the lights go darker but the room is never in total darkness. The knights don't come out and pull people into the show against their will (in case you are thinking about the scene from Cable Guy!). You are free to get up and walk to the bathroom or the lobby at any time if your child is upset by anything in the arena. That being said, I personally, would prefer taking a child who is a little older (8 and up) so that they will understand what they're seeing and I will get my money's worth. I think 8 is the perfect age to have taken The Jersey Momma's Boy. Any younger and he might have gotten bored or not wanted to eat much of his meal. I'm not saying not to take kids younger than 8, though. It all depends on your child and what you don't mind spending on them, too!


The Food

Did you scroll right to this section to find out what the food is like? If so, I don't blame you! I was always curious about it, too!  So the menu is pre-set and this is what we were offered at the Lyndhurst, NJ show:


The soup was a tomato bisque and was served in little bowls with handles, so it was fairly easy to eat it (drink it?) without a spoon. I thought it was pretty yummy, too. My son didn't care for it, but we all know he holds the title of World's Pickiest Eater.


They also came around with little chunks of garlic bread (this was a hit with the boy). The drinks offered to us were diet and regular sodas and water. I had to ask for Lemonade for The Jersey Momma's Boy, but I saw other servers offering it up right off the bat. For whatever reason, the drinks were my only complaint about our whole dining experience. Minor thing, I know, but I thought I'd mention it. Our drinks hardly had any ice in them and our server kept pouring them right to the tippy top of the mugs, causing us to spill them on ourselves in the darkness every time we went to drink. 

Oh, and we never did hear anyone calling their servers a wench. I don't know if that's a thing in other Medieval Times shows, but our server was also a male, so calling him a wench wouldn't have been much fun anyway.


The main course was not a turkey leg, but a decent size hunk of chicken with a lot of meat on it. It was not overly salty or greasy (a little greasy, but not awful). But you did have to pick it up and eat it with your hands or pull it apart (which was kind of funny, in my opinion). The Jersey Momma's Boy is so picky on so many levels when it comes to food, so when they plopped this chicken down in front of him, he looked at me and shouted, 'What am I supposed to do with THAT?' He was not too keen on digging his hands into a hot chicken, so I had to tear his apart for him.  And incidentally, it was right about this moment when the Yellow Knight strode by on his horse, looking to toss a carnation into the crowd for a lovely lady. So there I was with my hands full of chicken. 'Pick me, dear knight, the one with the greasy chicken hands leaning over her son!' Sigh. Maybe in my younger days, fair knight.

Our server also came around with a little corn on the cob and a baked potato half. Both of these were good, too, although passed up by The Jersey Momma's Boy. 

Concerned about messy hands? Don't worry, there were plenty of wet wipes provided at the table. If handling your food really, really, freaks you out, then bring your own plasticware. I'm sure it won't be a big deal!

*Note: If you have allergies or prefer a vegan meal, your server can help you out, so be sure to mention it to him/her before your meal starts.

Servers will also come around throughout the show in case you want to order from the bar. Alcoholic beverages are not included with your meal, so there is a separate charge for those.

Dessert consisted of a little chunk of almond pound cake and coffee (if desired). The Jersey Momma's Boy did eat the cake (it wasn't bad, but not great. It was cold, so I'm guessing it had been refrigerated), but at one point I looked over and he was smelling it. Ah, kids.

And lastly, keep in mind that gratuity is not included with your ticket purchase, so your server will present you a little folder that looks like a bill. It's not a bill, but a place to put your tip, so don't forget about that.

As you can see, I don't have many photos of the food. It's difficult to take photos of food that you have to eat with your hands!

Is Medieval Times Just For Kids?

Okay, so here is where I will tell you that I saw just about every age group at the show. I saw babies, toddlers, kids of all ages, and senior citizens. There were children there celebrating birthdays (3rd birthdays, 5th birthdays, 10th birthdays- I heard them announce a lot of different ages), and adults there celebrating anniversaries. There was even a couple celebrating their marriage of one week! They announced a 75th birthday, too. There was an entire row of twenty-somethings dressed in costumes. So trust me when I say that this show is not just for kids and you will not feel out of place at all as an adult, even if you come without kids. 


How Much Does it Cost to Visit Medieval Times?

As of the publication date of this entry, an regular adult admission is $62.95 and $36.95 for children 12 and under. But don't panic, there are usually coupon codes and deals offered all the time. I have even seen Groupon offers! If your child's school sells KidStuff coupon books, there are coupons in there, too. The best deal I found was a coupon code from Twitter, which gave me each ticket for $34.00.

If you sign up for the Medieval Times email newsletter, you will also receive complimentary admission during the month of your birthday. The only catch is that you can only get that free admission with one full price paid admission. That means I could not get a free birthday ticket for Mr. Jersey Momma with my $34.00 coupon code. I would've had to pay the full price, $62.95 for at least one ticket in order to get his freebie, which would have cancelled out my deal. Make sense?

It's also good to note here that parking is free and there was plenty of it. 

Jersey Momma Tips

Here are some of my suggestions for making the most of your Medieval Times visit. 

*Follow Medieval Times on Facebook or Twitter, and be sure to follow your closest Medieval Times location, too (for us, that was the Lyndhurst, NJ Facebook page). The reason I say this is because that is where you will find your best coupon codes, deals and specials. Plus, you get to see some neat photos of your favorite knights and their horses.

*Most shows run back to back. We saw the first show of the day so we had no one to contend with for parking or space in the lobby. When we were exiting our show, the next show was coming in, so things were considerably more crowded for them.

*Arrive early for photo ops, souvenirs and best seats (if this is a concern to you)

*If you have your photo taken before the show (with the king or princess), they usually bring it around to your table in the arena at some point for purchase. But some guests have told me they had to go to the lobby on the way out to purchase theirs.

*Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, but feel free to bring some plasticware for yourself if you don't think you can handle it

*Consider purchasing a ticket upgrade if seat location truly matters to you. 

*Take advantage of the celebration announcements if you are there for a special occasion. I think it was fun to hear all of those special messages read aloud.

*Shows are performed at various days of the week and various times. Check the website or the listing from your local Medieval Times to figure out what time is best for you. We visited on a Saturday in October for the 5:00 show.

*If you like the idea of being in the very front row but you're nervous about being too close to the action, know that there is a clear partition up in front of you to keep you safe!

*Immerse yourself! Be ready to cheer and boo for your fellow knights. Wave those flags, yell! That's the whole point.

*There was even a special 'boxed seat area' behind us for a small group celebrating a birthday. I'm not sure what they received as part of their package, but they had that little area all to themselves.

*Everyone at our show was very respectful of horses, riders and birds of prey. I hope you'll be that way, too, when  you visit. 


2 comments:

  1. SO. FUN. I have never been to Medieval Times, but I have secretly always wanted to go. It looks so fun!

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    1. Thanks, Alyssa! Add it to your MUST DO list, for sure!! You should go!

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