Saturday, July 6, 2013

Medieval Times - Toronto

A five year old wielding a sword.  Questionable parenting?  
My kids loved Medieval Times.  As soon as the emcee/commander at arms guy (who, by the way, is a wee bit hot) said (in anachronistic old timey language) "thanks for coming and good night", my daughter was all "I love it!  Let's go again!"  as though it were a ride that you can just go get back on.  So, the downside of Medieval Times is that you will be nagged by your kids to go again, incessantly, so consider yourselves warned!
Checking out the falcons before the show.
Our reservations were for 7:30 but we got there a bit early.  You will want to as well since there is plenty to look at while you are waiting for the show to start.  They have the usual gift store stuff, plus a kiosk with real swords which my kids found fascinating.  This is also when they do a knighting ceremony for anyone celebrating a birthday.  You can check out some of the horses and the falcon in their cages beforehand too.  There is also a dungeon which we skipped since my kids scare easily (seriously, my older daughter is scared by Scooby Doo episodes so don't think she could handle a museum dedicated to torture devices), but I bet older kids (and weirdos) would like it quite a bit.  You will also want to hit the bathrooms before the show starts so you don't have to go in the middle of the show.
A fancy dancing horse, an Andalusian, I believe.
My camera is a piece of ... under performing photographic equipment, so in any of the shots taken in the dark you will just have to take my word for it that the blurry figures are doing fun and exciting things because they were.  My kids especially liked the fancy dancing horses and the falcon.
The falcon and the blurry guy who takes care of falcons who no doubt has an actual title.
The whole no utensils thing was also a big hit.  My kids suddenly became flummoxed at the idea of eating chicken with their hands when they were told they had to, even though at the dinner table at home they often appear to be semi feral and have no qualms about trying to eat everything from spaghetti to soggy cheerios with their fingers.  My oldest daughter perused the menu and declared that she would have the bread, chicken and dessert off the list and was tickled pink to learn that actually you get everything on the list including the soup and potatoes and ribs.
Loving the soup apparently.
The portions are huge, two kids could easily split a meal and have leftovers but that didn't really seem to be an option and I also didn't want to have to break up a fight over a chicken carcass so they each got their own.  The food is fine, the kind of stuff to appeal to everyone, so nothing exciting but you won't go hungry.  Unless you are a vegetarian in which case you will, sorry!
Trust me, they are jousting!
The favourite part of the show for my kids was the tournament which starts about two thirds of the way through the show.  There are six knights, each assigned a different colour or colour combination and they compete against each other in simulated feats of derring do.  Now, any adult watching the show can see that they are throwing themselves off their horses and dodging punches that have yet to be thrown etc. but to a kid it is very exciting and realistic enough to make my daughter express concern for one of the knights who appeared to take a particularly bad blow to the stomach.  If you are worried that your kids might be scared by that sort of thing, I wouldn't worry since a) there is no blood or gore and b) everyone gets up and limps off, clearly still alive, so it all turns out fine.
Our section's knight arriving on the scene.
Our knight was the yellow and red knight, Lord del Font and my kids loved cheering for him when he was competing.  The knight in the picture on the website is one of the guys who plays the yellow and red knight, not the one who was in the show we saw.  Our guy looked like his day job was fronting a grunge tribute band (in case it isn't clear, that isn't a bad thing in my opinion).  The show is designed to get you to root for your knight and boo the others and they do a good job of getting people into the spirit of the thing.  The woman next to us was way into the spirit of things which I assume is because she is some sort of weird Medieval Times groupie (you know they probably exist) and/or drunk as a lord. Now, as someone who had a poster of this guythis guy and this guy on my wall when I was  teenager, I get it, but girl, simmer down.
Cheering for our knight.  
Anyway, our knight won which was very exciting for my kids who were right into the whole thing.  After our knight won the tournament he had to go into the audience to pick the "Queen of Love and Beauty", I was only vaguely paying attention to that part and just assumed that meant he picked the princess or something but he came up into the audience to pick one lucky girl for the honour and he picked my oldest daughter! Needless to say that was the highlight of the night.  Well, for her, for her sister I suspect it was the beginning of a fairytaleesque quest for revenge, but still, exciting!  She got a little crown and sash and her picture taken with the knight and princess.   Me and my husband are both cheap and even we were like, "well, I guess we are paying for that one!"  In the end they were kind enough to give my daughter the photo on the house.  It is right next to her bed as I type.
The victorious Red and Yellow Knight and my daughter, the Queen of Love and Beauty.  The picture they gave us is much nicer than this one!
Oh!  One last thing, big shout out to Katelyn (Caitlin?  Katlin?), our serving wench who was awesome!

Now for the downside.  There is only one and that is the price. If you pay regular full price you are looking at over $200 for a family of four for the basic package.  That is pretty steep, especially for a cheap person like me.  You certainly aren't going to head to Medieval Times for dinner every Thursday, but if you have a kid's birthday coming up, it is worth the money.  You can find lots of coupons and deals online though, even on the Medieval Times website. They offer free admission on your birthday for instance and they had a dads are free thing on Father's day.

Things to keep in mind:
  • There are a fair number of bathrooms in the castle but everyone needs to use them when the show gets out so you might actually want to duck out as they are wrapping up the farewells so you can beat the line ups.  Little kids can only hold it so long!
  • The Medieval Times website does not offer directions for people arriving at the castle by TTC or GO train (like we did) even though it is pretty accessible by transit.  Basically you just need to get yourself to exhibition place and then follow the signs for Medieval Times.  It is at the far end of the ex, near the exit to Lakeshore.  It is probably a 10 minute walk from the GO and TTC stops.  
  • There are all kinds of upgrades you can do with your package but I can tell you that the basic package is fine, you can see everything and the food is the same (other than birthday cake instead of the regular pastry, if you opt for the birthday package).  
  • If you or one of your party is celebrating a birthday or other special event you can sign up for the knighting ceremony at the Scrollmaster kiosk just inside the doors.  There don't seem to be any hard and fast rules about what constitutes a special day so if you really want to get knighted you could probably claim it was the seventh anniversary of that time you got your dog or something.  
  • The show is about two hours from start to finish and the dinner is served throughout the show.

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