Gonna Get Medieval On Your Ass!
Medieval Times Celebrates Fifteen Years of Going Total Retro
Charles D.J. Deppner
February 5, 1999-KISSIMMEE, FL. Looming over this tourist mecca is an imposing and foreboding stone edifice of the likes rarely seen. Flags ascend from yonder parapets. And next door to Wal Mart Superfortress #817 is Medieval Times…
Having an acute appreciation of history, I for one, reserve little, if any, regard for Medieval Europe. There’s nothing romantic about religious schism, the plague, illiteracy, and sheer brutality. Compound that with the absolute worst sanitary conditions. Usually, these aren’t characteristics one would want to associate with dinner theater, but somehow Medieval Times has been pulling it off for over fifteen years.
Of course Medieval Times isn’t offering Medieval history, but Medieval myth: the Code of Chivalry, along with the lore of Arthur, Merlin, Ivanhoe, and their ilk. (We owe a lot to Sir Walter Scott for being able to put a positive and exploitable spin on such a dark and devastating age.)
After donning your paper crown (“Put the damn thing on and get in spirit! It’s only a paper crown for crissakes!”) they set you up in seating resembling telethon operator booths. It’s here you’ll find yourself elbow to elbow with your neighbors, screaming bloody murder for the heads of your knight’s opponents. Meanwhile you’ll be tearing into the seared flesh of your meal with greasy bare fingers in a somewhat fiendish homage to a utensil-free era. (See The Cable Guy .)
But the half chicken and two spare ribs aren’t the only animals you’ll love at MT. There’s also the horses. The horses of Medieval Times, particularly the Andalusions, actually are amazing. They are the foundation upon which the whole franchise is built. These horses not only possess keen intelligence (horse smarts), but also an uncanny knack for shrugging off all the hooting, hollering, and pseudoviolence going on all around it. (One quality I need help on.) There’s always a magnetic force emanating from the grace, power, and beauty of almost any horse, and these horses are definitely most exceptional. The participants of the Miss Silver Spurs and Little Miss Silver Spurs Rodeo, who were in attendance, would most certainly agree. And those young ladies would be the ones to know.
Two things come to mind when a falcon flies over one’s head. One being “Wow! What an amazing and wondrous creature!” The other being, “Gosh! I hope he doesn’t crap in my beer!” (Actually my Medieval experience was surprisingly “dooty-free”, despite all the livestock.) Being witness to Medieval Times’ exhibition of falconry is a memory I’ll never part with.
The show climaxes with jousting. Few things can compare to the thrill of seeing men, horses and armor collide, lances smashing like exploding pool cues. I found myself living out fantasies as opposing juggernauts rolled towards one another: Rival politicians, old bosses, ex-girlfriends, etc. Truly nothing like it.
The show goes like clockwork thanks mostly to the Medieval Times staff. Whether you’re talking about the knights beating the crud out of one another, your personal “slave,” or the Grand Marshall, whose bombastic Shakespearean delivery was enough to put Jon Lovitz’s Master Thespian to shame, people were going out of their Medieval ways to treat me like Sir Boss, and before I knew it, evil as well as my meal were both vanquished.
I went into Medieval Times both historically and culturally jaded, with mixed expectations, at best. I left, satirical wit intact, but also with a full belly and a childlike giddyishness about what I just experienced. Medieval Times granted me what I’ve been craving for quite some time, a theater of the virtually absurd; abstract weirdness to project my imaginations and frustrations upon. And it was great. There must be something therapeutic about a ritualistic combination of food and violence.
Medieval Times offers much of the pomp and circumstance of Medieval period. Part renaissance fair, part pro wrestling, and part Siegfried and Roy, with an ambiance and light and sound system that’d make a raver drool, Medieval Times delivers the promise of your entertainment dollar: Escape; A chance to escape from these mixed up times to a perfected and idyllic interpretation of past mixed up times. Real Westworld . The kind of family entertainment Florida’s partly famous for, minus the looming shadows of corporate entities.
Aside: Kissimmee city officials were there, and didn’t wear their paper crowns, nor did they stay until evil was thoroughly vanquished. Go figure.
Tips: Look for coupons or specials. Medieval Times is good about providing plenty of promotionals.