December 26, 2013

Medieval Times: Appropriate for Little Kids?

Our fam has done a trip to Medieval Times more than once in the past year, and the kids always have a blast!  I still remember the first time we went -- hunting around the web beforehand for other blog posts and stories of people's experiences at Medieval Times with small kids.  There wasn't much out there, as I recall, other than the obvious:  "Avoid the dungeon tour with little kids," or "Boy, it can be expensive!"  But, you know me, I wanted more.  And, since "more" isn't out there, when our local Medieval Times castle contacted me to see if I'd review their show on the blog, I jumped at the chance to attend another Medieval Times tournament with the kids and to revisit a topic that's been on my mind several times in the past -- how can families, on a budget, with small kids attend a show at Medieval Times and not break the bank?  And, what can parents with young children expect from a show at Medieval Times?

First off, some general notes.  There are lots of knights.  Stone statues, full iron armor displays, and the real thing.  (Side note:  This guy is amazing.  He's been the "host" of the tournament every time we've gone and he's captivating.  I asked Andrew last night if he thinks he walks around at home speaking like a medieval knight because he is SO convincing that he must practice a lot.)

The costumes are impressive.  Everything is so well executed at Medieval Times.  My kids always leave with their little imaginations filled with days worth of playing "knight school" or "kings and princesses."  They buy into it hook, line and sinker.  I love that.

The gist of the Medieval Times is simple, although carried out extravagantly in a way that really draws in audience members of all ages.  You're ushered into the castle of the king, who is hosting a jousting tournament.  You're seated in a colored section -- that's the color of the knight you cheer for.  There's a pretty princess.  You're served dinner.  The knights fight.  There's a villain thrown in for good measure.  Everyone rallies for the good of the kingdom.  Evil is defeated.  Everyone leaves happy, even if their knight didn't win the tournament.  It's a really well-thought-out plan, in my opinion.  

But, what should you know in advance if you're heading into your local castle with your little ones?  Here are a few things this mom has learned over a few trips into Medieval Times with my own kiddos.

Prepare for the hard sell.  Medieval Times is pricey.  I used to look at ticket prices and cringe, but having  been to an actual tournament or two, I'll say this -- you're paying for a fantastic theatrical performance, beautiful costumes, strikingly beautiful animals (and I hate horses normally,) paying the actors and who knows what else, as well as getting a four-course meal.  The part that's unexpected is the barrage of trinkets and photos that are peddled from the time you walk in the door.  There are multiple photo ops that cost money, there are people walking through the performance constantly with light-up roses or swords or tiaras, there are two separate gift shop areas -- my kids have the wantsies from the time they go in the door.  I've learned to prepare them in advance that we aren't buying anything. Something that's really helped us?  We buy glow swords at the dollar store before we go, then crack them and get them glowing when we get inside.  My kids don't seem to care what they're waving in the air -- as long as it lights up like everyone else's stuff!

You don't need to get there 90-minutes in advance.  It says to on the tickets, but just my opinion -- of all the times we've gone to Medieval Times, we've gotten there early and then sat around with very bored, antsy kids while people walked by trying to sell them stuff that lights up.  I'd say get there 45 minutes in advance, because if you're like me, you'll worry if you are running late.  Get there a little bit early, and even then, plan to have something for your kids to do.  This past time, mine played on my iPhone while we waited.  

Give your picky eaters a snack in advance.  The meal served at Medieval Times is kind of "grown up."  My kids are always hit-or-miss on what they will actually eat.  It comes with the ticket, so it's worth packaging up and taking home, but plan for your picky eaters to be freaked out by the castle fare and by digging into things like half a chicken or a BBQ rib with their bare hands.  We often package their chicken up, take it home, and use it in soup or chili the next day.  Score.

Get into it!  Cheering for your knight with your kids can be so much fun!  Mine love getting into cheering for their knight and boo-ing all the others!  Although I'm not sure of the science behind which knight wins each tournament, our server this past time told us that it's based on which section cheers the loudest!  So, just in case that's true, yell and have fun with your kids!  It's definitely easy to get caught up in the moment and cheer and have a great time with your family, so get ready!

If you've been meaning to check out Medieval Times with your little ones, they're having a fantastic event on New Year's Eve that may be worth planning for!

Admission includes all sorts of fun activities for kids -- from knight training to face painting to story time with the princess!  It's even an early showtime so you can still get your littles to bed on time and ring in 2014 on your own!

Overall, our family has always really enjoyed Medieval Times quite a bit!  AND, it bears mentioning that, on our most recent visit, we had a poor experience with one of the waitstaff and it was handled amazingly well by the manager who addressed our complaint.  There can easily be misunderstandings and confusion in loud, arena-based events...and seeing a member of the Medieval Times management quickly and fairly address our issue was huge for our family.  We truly felt valued as customers based on the way the issue was dealt with -- and situations like that always make me quick to tell people that a business is worth patronizing!  So, in addition to our previous good experiences at the Arundel Mills castle, I'll add that the management there really seems to care about making experiences memorable and enjoyable for families.  Go see them!

Hope these tips helped, and if you do check out the New Year's Eve event at your local Medieval Times, I'd love to hear about your experience!  

From our family to yours -- Merry Christmas and Happy 2014!

Disclosure: I received tickets for a Medieval Times show in exchange for posting a review of the show on this blog. I was not compensated for my review or opinion. I always give my honest opinions, feelings and beliefs about the products and places reviewed on this blog.


Cat said...

great write up T! Now I want to go! huzzah! -Cat

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