Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Dinner and Tournament, Medieval Times, Lyndhurst NJ
Medieval Times is one of the most well known "Dinner Theater" type places. The main event is the show- a campy version of a knight's tournament and show of animal handling skills. The diners are herded into sections corresponding to each Knight's colors, and are encourage to cheer on their knight (and his allies) and jeer at the knights represented on the opposite side of the arena. It is presented in a family friendly way, although the bar, and the freely flowing alcoholic beverages seem at odds with that. If you can look past the ever present gift shops and attempts to get you to buy photos with various cast members, it actually is a fun experience when you embrace it for what it is. The food, while mass produced, actually has quite a few redeeming qualities, with some parts of the meal standing up to, or surpassing anything found in a more conventional family restaurant.
The first part of the show involves the introduction of the knights, and the introduction of the King and his entourage. As the show settles into a show of horsemanship, the food starts coming out- a serving "wench" will come around, and after making sure everyone has a full tankard of whatever they're drinking, will come aorund with trays full of bread and pitchers of steaming hot tomato bisque.
The best part of the pre-joust portion of the show has to be the hawk. The trainer walks out into the arena, and lets his bird-of-prey loose. The big hawk speeds aorund the arena in big loops, soaring around enough times to buzz over just about everyone's heads- sometimes speeding only inches above. This part has absolutely nothing to do with dinner, but it is quite a thrill to see this animal in action.
Clearly, the point of the whole experience is the entertainment- well actually, the point of the experience is to try to get you to buy more pricy bar drinks and the overwhelming number of souveniers paraded in front of you at every opportunity. Despite the rampant consumerism, the show is fun to watch. You'll get a good, big meal, and you will probably remember how good the chicken was for quite a while. It's a fun night out, that the kids won't soon forget- even if the knight that represents your seating section gets knocked out in the first joust.