Last week I was invited by Medieval Times to attend their new show in exchange for a blog post about their new show. Our cousin told us that she and her husband were considering going there for their son’s 5th birthday, so that pretty much set my thesis for me: Is the new show appropriate and fun for a 5th birthday?
We prepped the boys by telling them we were going to a castle. (I hope that wasn’t a bad call. I don’t want any emails from the 5th grade teacher telling me that my boys were wondering why all castles didn’t have a Books-a-Million across the hall.)
We checked in with a series of employees in varying stages of Medieval dress and qualities of fake British accents. We were subjected to the obligatory photo op with the master falconer, and then were free to move about the castle while we waited to be seated. The castle lobby was a raucous mix of authentic-looking window dressing and touristy bric-a-brac. I can happily support the dungeon area or the giant hearth and wooden tables. I can even understand the stands where they sold light-up swords. Not authentic, obviously, but those swords are a siren song to their core audience and the walking wallets who escort them there. Medieval Times also knows how to woo parents, too. Behind the tavern counter was a big wall of frozen alcoholic beverages brought to you by Fat Tuesday’s. If Mardi Gras and the Renaissance festival had a love child, it would be the lobby at Medieval Times.
Inside the mishmash of settings continued. Fake British accents + margaritas from Fat Tuesday’s + a show set in Spain = an inauthentic something, but if you don’t think about it too much, you can suspend a lot of disbelief. I think this is a statement about the quality of social studies education in American schools, but that’s probably a blog post for another day. The seating area was pretty impressive, with good views all around, efficient, friendly staff, and pewter dinnerware — perfect for parents who will absolutely not trust their small loved ones with glassware or pottery .
The new show is filled with all of the things one would want from such an adventure. There’s jousting, both with rings and against other knights. There’s also a dressage demo (not too exciting for the boys, but that’s also when the food came out, so I can’t really say the horses lost their attention so much as the lunch grabbed it instead). And, of course, there was stage fighting between the knights. The boys thought this was the cat’s pajamas. In fact, I have a lingering sense of concern from seeing how bloodthirsty Cade was when the swords came out.
The show was a little long for us because the kids are so young. Two hours was just long enough for the boys to lose interest and wander off towards the lobby. I think 90 minutes would have been perfect. If I were show editor, there’s a confusing subplot that I’d cut about a king from the north. It didn’t add much to the story or the experience, and gave Grady the perfect excuse to run up and down the hall for 10 minutes while I tried to keep him from tripping the serving wenches.
So back to that 5th birthday. It’s been a week and the boys are still asking to view the commemorative DVD, wear their paper crowns, and wave the tournament flags that came with our tankards at lunch. If that’s not a great testimonial, what is? Huzzah!
(If Cade ever runs away to join the Renaissance Festival, I’ll look back at this moment as the first sign of trouble.)