With the phenomenal success of HBO’s Game of Thrones and the surge of suburban comic book and cosplay conventions, I headed out to the posh Hoffman Estates area in Schaumburg, Illinois to check out the Medieval Times. This family dinner theater concept is ripe with all things dashing renaissance heroes and swooning damsels in distress. One part horse show, one part theatrical experience, the Medieval Times is a gratifying fit to all those who crave the long lost days of knights and kings and princesses and cavaliers. The period accurate costuming brought its own level of pageantry, and the fully shaped 11th century style castle design is impossible to miss from the highway. Do keep in mind it is smart to arrive early as the photo opportunities are many and the specialty drinks are strong. Upon arrival, each guest is given a crown which determines exactly where they will be sitting and which knight they will cheer on in battle. Needless to say, audience participation is an absolute must.
The lobby was a modern blend of the Knights of the Round Table meets Disney World. The light up sabers and swords are eye candy for the kiddos, while the gothic statuary and collectibles will satiate any aficionado of King Arthur or Lancelot. Intricate tapestries adorn the walls, while suits of armor bedecked the foyer. Almost everything was for sale as well, so don’t forget to bring your most powerful shield, that being in the shape of a Visa or American Express card. Participating in the extensive souvenir shopping is a must and the professional photos taken upon arrival are available for purchase by the show’s close.
Once the theater space officially opens, the audience members are escorted from the grand lobby to their seats for an evening of food, festivity and merriment, while a full scale tournament unfolded before their very eyes. The regal Spanish Andalusian horses were quite impressive to behold. Their intricately braided manes, embellished saddles and flowing tails flourished as they went through their paces to entertain the crowds. Next up, it was time for Sir Kenneth, the master falconer, to perform tricks with his high flying falcon. As the medieval tournament commenced, so did dinner, which consisted of hearty tomato bisque soup, warm baked bread, Baby dragon, which was actually roasted chicken, dragon horns aka corn on the cob, dragon eggs which in reality were herb-basted potatoes and a pastry dessert. To remain authentic to the time period, dinner is served without cutlery. The audience is encouraged to be just as barbaric as the 6 knights center stage. Strategically fighting one another with swords, maces and lances, the rounds of the jousting completion featured legitimate lance and shield battles. At the event’s conclusion, the victorious knight tossed flowers in the audience to their adoring subjects while riding triumphantly atop their imposing stallions.
I was most impressed at the wide and varied age range of the attendees, from small children to their great grandparents. Many arrived to celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries on the night I attended. You can even sign up and have the King read welcoming proclamations, shouting out well wishes for successful marriages and birthdays at the top of the games. The middle ages a la Schaumburg, IL proved to be a jovial evening. The impressive horsemanship, authentic costuming, realistic jousting competitions and eye popping falconry left everyone with smiles on their faces. When heading out to O’Hare airport, definitely take a detour at the castle and join in on the middle-aged style frivolity that is a night out of impressive knights at the Medieval Times.
Medieval Times 2001 N. Roselle Road, Schaumburg, IL 60195
Tomorrow look for the review of the NJ version.