By Bethany Parker
My posse and I ventured up to Schaumburg over Spring Break to check out the new show at Medieval Times, that giant castle next to the interstate where you watch a knights and jousting themed arena show while eating dinner without any silverware.
Or so I thought.
True, this is the absolute bare bones of the concept, but the actual place is so much more than that. It’s childhood on steroids, adults wearing cardboard crowns for three hours and not thinking twice about it, children screaming at the top of their lungs for the success of their knight.
It’s drinking dragon blood soup (tomato bisque, if you simply must be so stodgy and modern) from a metal cauldron with no spoon, allowing yourself to be caught up in the absolute Americana of the whole event. Sure, it’s no actual Renaissance Faire – the main hall opens 75 minutes prior to each performance where you can find all manner of light-up swords, crowns and castle, knight and princess related gear for sale.
There you can also buy REAL weaponry, much to the delight of my 13-year-old, who stood next to the counter gawking at the real thing for a very long time. There are suits of armor on display (and for sale!), large plastic knights helmet mugs filled with fruit slushies, a tour through a re-created dungeon (we skipped this, the line was long and I hadn’t purchased the necessary tokens at the entry gate), a very long bar for the adults and enough pre-show pageantry to keep everyone occupied and in anticipation of the main event.
Even with all of this, it wasn’t terribly overdone, campy or carnival-esque. The staff and actors were truly in character, they had their roles and they played them well.
When the arena doors open 20 minutes before the meal and show, guests are seated by their assigned table/knight color. It was easy to find our designated location – the tables are lit up with the appropriate colors. Each area has its own serving wenches – I never did figure out how to properly address the male serving wench, hopefully by the time we return I’ll have that sorted out.
Everyone working at the castle refers to the guests as My Lord or My Lady, this was a source of great amusement for my children. The poor guy did a great job of staying in character and when my son insisted on utensils he responded “I will have to ask the blacksmith if he can forge some for you”. He did eventually bring some disposable silverware for us, but I would advise bringing your own if you have a child who will be uncomfortable eating the meal, just in case the blacksmith is on vacation.
This brings us to the food. There are two options – carnivores or vegetarians. I loved this because I had no need to play the Kids Menu game, figure out what everyone wanted, who needs fries or applesauce, etc. Served over the course of the show, the meal of more-than-enough for a hungry adult lasted us nearly the entire two hours and was well received by everyone but my incredibly picky oldest child who left very hungry, but he’s old enough to deal with that on his own.
My other two simply inhaled their dinner (once they figured out how to eat it). And eating while being entertained was outstanding, especially the jousting and swordfighting.
If we’re in the Schaumburg area again I’d consider this as an activity option. It’s not an inexpensive one, so you want to plan well. And be sure to make reservations in advance – the show we attended wasn’t sold out but weekend and some holidays do fill up. I won’t give away details about the show – if you want to know more, you can visit the Medieval Times website and check out their promo videos. If you’re going to drive 2 ½ hours into Chicago area traffic, a little swordfighting makes it that much more worth it!
GREAT NEWS, Lords and Ladies! We have a packet of six tickets to give away to one lucky chambanamoms.com reader. Could make a great gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or a graduation – or just an excuse to have some family fun! This package is valued at more than $250.
1) Leave a comment and tell us – who is your favorite princess or prince of all time? (Real, animated or otherwise).
3) Share this post on your favorite social media site. Please come back here and tell us that you did in a comment, for every one; in the comment, give a link. That means making it public on Facebook!).
No purchase necessary. Contest will be wrapped up by 5 p.m. Monday, April 21 at 5 p.m. Winners will be picked at random by random.org. Winners must respond to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be selected. Open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Estimated value is $260; no cash value. Chambanamoms.com editors received tickets to a show but no other compensation for this post. All opinions are our own.