Better late than never: A trip to Medieval Times

Last weekend, I took a trip to Medieval Times for my friend’s 27th birthday. I wrote a review for Examiner.com here, but I figured I’d throw together something a little less formal for the blogosphere. Just to note, despite almost everyone in my elementary school class having gone here at least once, I nor my fiance had ever been.

The concept is pretty cool – dinner and “tournament” – basically live action theater while you eat. I was shocked at how expensive tickets are (about $60/person), but was then informed that if you buy them in groups, there’s a discount. Now when I say discount, I mean almost 50% off if you by 4+ tickets at once, and for most, they go in large groups, so it’s the way to go. You definitely get your money’s worth at $33 a ticket, too.

The building is shaped like a castle, and people often tailgate outside prior to the beginning of the show, since they’re scheduled times each day of the week. I was surprised to see people tailgaiting a dinner show, but then realized a few things: 1. we’re in New Jersey 2. we’re a stones throw away from Giant Stadium, so it just runs in these people’s blood. Plus, once I got inside and made my way to the waiting area where they had the bars, it made even more sense – their drinks are expensive! To be fair, you should expect that, it’s gimicky and they need to make some extra money some how; I can only imagine the type of electric bill they get! A few people in our group got drinks, but my fiance and I decided our money would be better served elsewhere, considering a pint glass filled with Sam Adams was $25! Ok, so the glass was actually glass and you could keep it… but still!

After we hung out in the bar area that also served as a souvenir shop (of course filled with overpriced nicknacks that a child will beg and cry for, only to play with for a day and forget about), we were direct to our assigned seat (we were the blue knight). From there, everything goes pretty quickly; your serf or wench will explain to you how it works, pour you your tomato soup, and run off to grab garlic bread and drinks. The show begins not long after that, and somehow the serfs and wenches manage to serve you the rest of your dinner (a large piece of chicken, a spare rib, and half a baked potato) in the dark. You’ll be entertained by horses doing tricks, a hawk flying above you (you have to stay in your seat during this), and some impressive acting with a tournament.

Both my fiance and I had a hard time understanding what most of the people in the show were saying, but we enjoyed watching the action anyway. I did feel badly for the horses, though. I know just from common knowledge that in general horses don’t like loud noises. Well let me tell you, that show was LOUD. With the music, banging of the props, and just the general atmosphere, it was even a bit much for me at times. I was extremely impressed at how well they handled everything, though, and they were right on cue with entering the arena, leaving, and doing their assigned tricks. My heart did ache for them a bit throughout the show, though.

So this is a food blog, and you must be thinking, well, how was the food?! It wasn’t bad, actually. No, I’m never going to be craving Medieval Times’ dinner, but it was good enough. The chicken’s seasoning was a bit salty and the rib sauce was only half flavored, but it wasn’t bad. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort (and the size of the ovens) it takes to prepare a meal for all of the people that are at a show. So for that, I was impressed. They do offer a vegetarian option, but I’ve heard from multiple people it isn’t good at all – it’s just a few vegetables thrown on a plate, and isn’t nearly the same amount of food as the meat eater’s option. They also give you a “pastry” at the end of the show with some coffee (if you’d like). Ours was esentially an apple turn-over. Not bad, but it tasted eerily familiar to the frozen Pepperidge Farms one’s I’ve gotten for myself. Similarly, their garlic bread tasted just like the frozen Texas Toast you can get at the grocery store. I’m not going to fault them for it, though, they have a lot of mouths to feed!

It definitely isn’t a place to go for the meal – you go for the experience of being transported back to, well, medieval times. I’m not itching to go back, and probably won’t unless someone else suggests it, or until I have children of my own. But hey, I had fun, and I can finally say I’ve been. So take that, elementary school friends!

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