Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Danse Royale - 12 Tips for a Successful Trip to Medieval Times

This weekend we went to a family birthday party at Medieval times.  This is a great experience for kids because they pretty much get to do everything that you don't normally let them do.  They are encouraged to scream at the top of their lungs, eat with their hands, boo people, and get rewarded for being rowdy.  There are 9 "Castles" (Medieval Times locations) in North America.

Dry Ice Entrance to the arena

The kids had a blast, we had fun, and everyone went home satisfactorily exhausted, and overall the trip was a great success. That being said there are a few things that we lucked into that made our visit even better.

Here are 12 tips for making the most of your experience at Medieval Times!

Our Knight, The Red and Yellow Knight

  1. Look for deals before you book
    Regular priced tickets can get pretty expensive (in Toronto $65.95 per adult and $45.95 for kids under 12).  They offer group rate packages, special discounts for Scouts and teachers ($30.95 per person), so keep an eye out for a discount.  I've also seen a number of offers during non-peak times for cheaper tickets via discount coupon sites (just Google Medieval Times Discounts with your location).  For parents with kids aged three and under, you are allowed to have your child attend for free, provided that they sit on your lap and eat off of your plate (which shouldn't be a problem food portion wise, as servings are huge).
  2. Get there early, because there will be lines
    The lines, even for ticket holders are pretty long.  We were the last people in our party to arrive, but it was difficult to figure out how to meet up with the rest of our family to get inside as many of the staff were giving us conflicting information.  If you get there early enough you can have your photo taken (available for purchase later) with a member of the cast (usually the King, Princess or Falconer). By getting there early you can also look at the horses and the falcon, browse the gift shop or have a pre-show drink.

    The King 
  3. If you have little kids, try to get seated close to the washrooms
    Jack took full advantage of the free refills of Pepsi at Medieval Times, gulping down two giant steins, this meant more frequent trips to the bathroom.  For those visiting the Toronto location the green and red sections are the closest to the facilities. 
  4. Be prepared to spend more than your ticket fee
    Tickets cover your seat, a cardboard crown colour-coded for your section, your meal, and unlimited pop.  For adults who want some booze along with their Medieval experience, you're going to pay extra for that.  There is also a gift shop that sells Medievalish souvenirs to those interested.  Molly used some of her Easter money to purchase a pink pointy cone shaped princess had (actually called a hennin) and Jack used some of his to buy a flag to wave around while we cheered for our knights, thankfully no one lost an eye during his fits of Pepsi/caffeine infused flag waving.

    The Royal Joust 
  5. Embrace the cheese
    Don't go in expecting a Broadway show, instead expect an over the top, re-imagination of a Royal dinner and battle of knights that is geared to entertain children (Think A Knight's Tale, not Robin Hood), and you'll be golden.  Most of the Knights have flowing long locks that would make even Fabio jealous, some amazing costumes, and will entertain you with a joust and other stage-fighting theatrics
  6. They have booster seats
    If you have a little kid who might have trouble seeing you can ask for a booster seat. Ask early, as otherwise you may end up with the child on your lap for the entire show, which truthfully isn't terrible anyway.

    Jack waving his flag
  7. The knights will throw flowers into the audience
    Thanks to the help of her cousins, and Molly being a giant ham standing on her chair, batting her eyelashes and waving her arms like she was about to take flight, we had a flower thrown to us. The receipt of the flower made Molly's entire day.  For those who don't get a flower thrown their way and have their heart set on a flower (knights will throw flowers several times during the show, so there is more than one opportunity) there are cloth, light-up flowers available for purchase (or you can just buy one from the dollar store and stash it in your bag in case your kid misses out on the flower toss).
  8. You'll have more fun if you get into it
    All staff will call you my lord and lady, call the food different things (the garlic bread were dragons gills), and will make things more fun, especially if you participate too.  One of the drinks they offer is spit, and Jack (naturally) asked for some. Our waiter pretended to oblige, before actually serving him copious amounts of Pepsi.
  9. There are two show time options on weekends
    You can go to a 4:30PM show or a 7:30PM show on weekends.  I'd recommend the earlier show time for people attending with little kids and the later show time for those who were attending with tweens, teens, or a group of rowdy adults.
    A royal horse
  10. Your kids can wear a costume.
    Most kids, particularly the little girls, were wearing princess dresses.  A number of adults, specifically those who were there for a child's birthday party got into the spirit of the venue and also wore costumes.  As someone who loves Halloween, and welcomes any chance to dress up I'm a little sorry I didn't think to pull out the dress up box before we went.
  11. You can bring your own food
    Not sure how your child is going to react to the food served?  You can bring some snacks if you think they're going to turn up their nose at tomato soup, garlic bread, chicken, corn, potato, and a butter tart.  I've also seen online that you can ask for a doggy bag, but didn't see anyone actually get one while we were there, People seated near us for a birthday party brought in their own cupcakes to enjoy in front of the show.
  12. If you're allergic to pets, bring some allergy medication
    We'd forgotten about Chris's horse allergies, and he was sniffling throughout the show.  If you find yourself sniffling at the petting zoo, you may want to have some medication on hand just in case.
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