Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
It’s funny how sometimes you go out and seek fun and adventure and excitement and you search high and low for it. You try this, you try that. You listen to suggestions from others and you give it a try. But sometimes, the things you are looking for have been right in front of you all along, all this time, and you’ve never seen it before, never bothered to give it a try, didn’t know what you were missing out on.
I was born and raised in Orange County, California. And while I may not still live there full-time, I am in Orange County all the time. As a kid, I visited places such as Knott’s Berry Farm, Movieland Wax Museum, and Disneyland all the time. In fact, I even worked at Disneyland for a couple of years. As an adult, I’ve been Knott’s Scary Farm during the Halloween season. I’ve been to the Buena Park Mall. I have family that doesn’t live too far from Buena Park. Heck, I drive by it on the freeway every week when I’m headed back to my hometown. But, one thing I’ve never done, but always wanted to do, was go to Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Now, to some people, this may sound cheesy. But for me, the idea of watching medieval knights joust and compete for the hand of the princess, much as they would do during the time of King Arthur and the Round Table times was kind of exciting. Who wouldn’t want to cheer on these knights and watch these beautiful horses all while being served a meal you have to eat with your hands! Bring it on!
Watching TV one night, my husband and I saw a commercial on TV for Medieval Times that provided a code for 50% off of a ticket to the show. My husband said to me that we should just go for it, because when else would we do it if we didn’t do it now? Grudgingly, I agreed that if we didn’t do it now, we probably wouldn’t find the time to do it any time soon, and it was 50% off, so what could be better. In the end, my husband, my parents and I decided to go and see what all the fuss was about. The first Medieval Times castle was built in Majorca, Spain where it was hugely popular. Less than 10 years later, the first Medieval Times castle was built in Kissiimmee, Florida. The castle in Buena Park was built 3 short years later in 1986. Since then, 7 additional locations have been built throughout North America.
Upon entering the Castle, you are given crowns in various colors to wear; these crowns represent the knight that you’ll be cheering for when you enter the arena. There are 6 different colored knights that vie and compete against one another for the right to the hand of the beautiful princess. The knights will battle each other as well as evil intruders all in front of the crowd while the audience eats and cheers them on. The night we arrived, we were given red crowns, so the Red Knight would be our guy.
When it’s time for the show, everyone is called into the arena based upon the color of their crown. Everyone wearing the same colored crown is seated in the same section and this becomes interactive for the audience as we cheer against the audience across the arena from us, or next to us who is wearing different colored crowns from our own. The arena is set up with guests sitting in arena-style seating in long rows across with a long table in front of them. Greeting you at your seat when you arrive are pewter plates, bowls and cups. You’ll notice that there are no utensils as this journey in the Castle is a journey back into time, back to the days of the knights at the round table where everyone ate with their fingers!
On each persons place setting is a napkin which welcomes everyone into the arena at Medieval times. When you open up the napkin, you’re provided with a menu of the night’s dinner to be served to you. The meal starts with tomato bisque, castle bread (garlic bread), roasted chicken, bbq spare ribs, herb-based potato, pastry of the castle (apple turnovers), and a beverage of your choice.
Castle bread, as it’s called, but better known as garlic bread comes out first onto your plate. Hot and crispy and flavorful right out of the oven and right onto your plate. As you sit in long rows that circle the arena, your waiter walks in front of you and serves the bread to each person as the waiter walks down the row. It’s certainly not the best, most delicious garlic bread I’ve ever eaten, but I don’t think you walk into an interactive show like this and expect to be blown away by the food. You expect to be served a meal that you can enjoy while you enjoy the show on the arena floor.
Along with the castle bread came the tomato bisque. Poured from a pitcher right into your pewter bowl, you’re expected to pick up the bowl by the handle and drink right out of the bowl. The soup was hot, flavorful and smooth. Not the best tomato bisque ever, but it went well with the yummy garlic bread. For those who were uncomfortable dining with their hands and fingers, some choose to bring plastic utensils into the arena with them.
Eventually, its time for the entrée. The roasted chicken is the first thing to get served. Surprisingly, the roasted chicken is moist and super flavorful and delicious. It was probably my favorite part of the entire meal. The skin was cooked nice and crispy and the meat inside was juicy and tender and everything fell right off the bone.
After the chicken came the potatoes and the bbq spare ribs. The herb-roasted potatoes were wedge cut and roasted in the oven with a little bit of herb seasonings. It was a delicious starch for the meal. Meat and potatoes, the key to all meals, right?
Finally there’s the bbq spare ribs. I will say that they didn’t actually look that appealing when plopped down onto the plate. But, surprisingly, they were quite tasty. They were actually really tender, more so than I anticipated them to be. They literally were fall off the bone. And while this isn’t the kind of bbq I’d be dying to come back and have again, they actually weren’t that bad.
At the end of the meal, the waiters came by passing out to-go boxes for those who had food to take home. Now, we were ready for the final course, dessert. The pastry of the castle was an apple turnover. I admit to not like baked fruit dessert items, so I didn’t touch the apple in my apple turnover. I picked at the pastry crust, which actually was nicely baked, flavorful, and flaky, and then gave the rest of my apple stuffed turnover to my husband to finish for me.
All the while, our Red Knight jousted, battled, and dueled his way into the final showdown against another knight. In the end, our Red Knight lost the final battle and ultimately didn’t win the hand of the princess. But, all in all, it was a terrific night of entertainment and food enjoyed by all. We all left the arena feeling happy, full, and agreeing that this is definitely something we shouldn’t have waited so long to try!