Monday, February 26, 2007

Getting Medieval

You can rest easy on Sunday night when you know you’re weekend was well spent. That can mean a lot of different things but for me this weekend it meant being able to cross an item off of my list of things to do before I die. Saturday night for Morgan’s birthday we took in a magical evening of dinner and tournament at Medieval Times. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and it lived up to, and exceeded, my every expectation. Just a night full of renaissance festival type nerdiness, horses, jousting, and horrendous acting, who could ask for anything more? An “exhilarating night of fun, feasting, and fighting” indeed. Let’s go through some of the highlights.

Upon entering the castle (and yes it really is in a fake castle) everyone is split into groups based on which knight you will be pulling for and given a colored crown corresponding with said knight. Then you congregate in a common area waiting to be seated. This is a good opportunity to talk trash to the other guests and to buy souvenirs like the 40 oz. margarita me and Leslie split in the gigantic souvenir cup. Some might say that’s a bit excessive, I say $24 well spent. Because nothing says 11th century Europe like a margarita.

After a half hour or so everyone is ushered into the arena, which is essentially a big sand pit surrounded by different colored seating. The serving wench comes out to give you some basic instructions, like turn the handle of your pretend pewter cup out if you want Pepsi and in if you want iced tea, you know, the usual. Then the show begins. They start by giving you a back story so you have a foundation to understand what’s going on. I would love to relay some of that too you but the fog machines were really cranking at this point and I couldn’t here anything that was happening. It was really just a bunch of bad British accents and overacting. Something about a war, and I think the king’s brother died or something, which for some odd reason means that there will be a tournament between his six knights to see who will be crowned his successor. I was under the impression that the line of succession for royalty went from parents to there children, and I remember them mentioning something about a Princess Esperanza, so why would a knight be next in line, seems odd to me but whatever. Finally that’s over and everyone settles in to start some feasting. And here comes the aforementioned Esperanza and boy is she annoying. She sits next to the king up on the throne to enjoy some pre feast entertainment. Our serving wench comes out to dish up the first course, which means carrying a bucket of vegetable soup around and ladling it into our bowls for us to drink from. No kidding. No silverware in medieval times means we eat with our hands. This was wasn’t too bad with the soup but next up was half of a chicken. I kind of don’t like eating with my hands so I felt pretty slovenly ripping at this chicken. While everyone is eating medieval style we are entertained by some horses prancing around, which is cool I guess but if I wanted to see some dressage I would’ve sought that out elsewhere, I’m here for some jousting dammit. Then the falconer comes out and lets his falcon fly around in circles for a few minutes. I have no idea what that had to do with anything I was just hoping it didn’t poop in my giant margarita while flying overhead.

Finally after all that we get to the good stuff. The tournament is starting. First test of knighthood is a glorified carnival game; the knights ride their horse around and try to pull a ring off of a string with a lance. A good start for the blue knight, him and two others win and ride up to get some flowers from the princess for their victory, which they then toss into the crowd, always the showmen those knights. The next game is pretty stupid; two riders ride the length of the arena toss flags between each other. I guess you lose if you drop it but no one does because you would have to have the coordination of one-legged drunk trying to run hurdles to drop one. This game is followed by the javelin toss, only the knights are riding to within a foot or two of the target before releasing their projectile, so this isn’t very exciting. Although boring the tactic makes sense because I can’t imagine Medieval Times would stay in business very long after a stray javelin spears an 8 year old at his birthday party. More flowers for the victors, one of which the blue knight tosses back to the princess. Uh-oh, is there a secret romance going on behind the scenes with our knight and the princess, I can’t wait to see how this turns out. Another variation of the ring game. I don’t think this tournament isn’t getting the job done and the king agrees. He decides that we’re going to need to see some fighting to settle on his successor.

Now it’s joust time. First up blue knight vs. yellow knight. They joust and after a couple of passes the blue knight knocks yellow night off of his horse. Then a few more passes where the yellow knight holds a shield up for the blue knight to ram a lance into. He then climbs down for some sword fighting. What follows is some of the most intense action I’ve ever seen. By now you’re so into the story that you really believe these are two knights fighting for their lives. Ok maybe not, maybe these fight scenes make a Steven Seagal movie look like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but it’s still hilarious to watch. My favorite part is when someone takes a punch then stumbles back about 15 feet and then does a roll in the sand for emphasis. There timing is way off; someone will hold their shield up for a sword blow that doesn’t come for another 3 or 4 seconds. They really need to tighten up this choreography if I’m going to find it believable. Son of a bitch, the stupid blue knight lost, which is annoying, now we just have to watch everyone else get pumped about their knight knowing ours was the first one eliminated. Predictably it comes down the red and green knights; they were obviously the two best. The red knight wins and everyone is happy as the king crowns his successor. But what is this, the red knight has betrayed the kingdom, he’s the one who killed King Alfonso’s brother! What treachery! Who can we count on to avenge this death and restore order to the kingdom? Oh yeah, its our hero the blue knight back to take vengeance on the red knight in the name of King Alfonso and his lover Princess Esparanza in final epic battle. Shocker, blue knight wins, we can wear our blue crowns with pride as we exit the battlegrounds to get autographs from the performers. Obviously the writers of the script are big fans of professional wrestling.

All in all its was a really good time in a this is the cheesiest thing ever and I love it sort of way. I highly recommend a night of dinner and tournament, but only once because anymore than that and you’re sort of a huge nerd.


Mike said...

Um... The chancellor killed the Red Knight by stabbing him with his sword while crowning him champion. It was the chancellor who the Blue Knight had to save the kingdom from.

The way it was going, if our knight hadn't won I probably would have thought it was awful, but when he came back the whole experience did a 180.

Los said...

I have to say, I want to do this as well some day ... of course I got this idea after seeing Family Guy.

David said...

I also really want to go to one of these places. It sounds even better than I have imagined. I'm such a nerd...

Rachel said...

I went to the one is Schaumberg, IL. That time the gold knight won.
It was about $175 for 3 adults and one child. I thought that was pretty pricy.
The first time I heard of it was in a movie where Janine Garofalo (sp) was a serving wench.