7000 Arundel Mills Circle,
Hanover, Maryland 21076
MOOLAH METER: $$$
GOOD FOR: Kids 6 and older
From the Web site:
Medieval Times is an exciting, family-friendly dinner attraction inspired by an 11th century feast and tournament. Guests are served a four-course banquet and cheer for one of 6 Knights as they compete in the joust and other tests of skill.Expect lots of jousting, swordsmanship, thrilling hand-to-hand combat, displays of extraordinary horsemanship and falconry as part of an exciting yet touching story set in Medieval Spain.
If your family is into the pageantry, romance and chivalry of kings and queens, knights and princesses, then Medieval Times is a must-see attraction. While the full admission price of $50.95 plus tax for adults and $37.95 plus tax for kids 12 and younger may be a show-stopper for some, others will find it well worth the coin of the realm.
I attended a matinee show with my son’s field trip class, so our experience likely differs in some ways from those who pay for a dinner show. A quick review of the online calendar indicates that the Baltimore Castle is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, with evening shows on the other days of the week. The only matinee show (2:30 p.m.) appears to be available on Sundays.
First, some history: The attraction actually got its start in Mallorca, Spain, in 1973. It arrived in the United States in 1983 with the establishment of the Kissimmee, Florida, Castle, and since then a total of nine U.S. castles have been created. Our region’s Baltimore Castle, located in Hanover, MD, opened in 2004.
The Baltimore Castle is located in the Arundel Mills shopping complex, making for ample free parking. Its exterior deceives you into thinking it’s not that big, but trust me, once you get inside, it’s cavernous! Once you’re past the ticket-taker, you can wander around the Hall of Arms and check out artifacts such as full suits of armor; get your picture taken with the show’s characters in costume; buy a souvenir drink at the bar; and pick up costumes and swords at the gift shops. If you’re splurging anyway on the kids, get them one of the plastic swords that light up — they’re really fun in the darkened arena where you’ll be feasting and cheering the show.
Before heading into the arena, the emcee knight will lay down the rules of the realm (e.g. no banging on the pewter dinnerware because it scares the horses). As you enter the arena, you’ll be amazed at how huge it is, especially when you realize it’s basically been carved below ground, beneath the shopping center! You’ll be seated in one of six color-coded areas, which correspond to the color of the knight you’ll be cheering for.
The show starts with an hourlong history of the medieval era, punctuated by the service of drinks and appetizers (garlic bread and tomato bisque soup that wasn’t creamy enough to really call it a bisque). Besides the food, the main highlight of this hour is a falconry display involving a knight swinging a piece of meat around as the falcon swoops in from around the arena.
An hour into the show, you’ll get the main part of the meal: half a roasted chicken, which was done to perfection, at least in my case. An important note here: true to the period, you get no utensils and will be eating with your hands, including the soup which you’ll have to sip from the bowl. Then comes a spare rib and half a baked potato, both tasty but I wish the starch had come earlier with the chicken. Finally, the pastry of the castle, which in our case was an Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip cookie.
Other menu notes from the Web site: A full-service bar is also available for adult guests. Vegetarian meals are available upon request. Vegetarian meal includes tomato bisque soup, garlic bread, large portobello mushroom cap stuffed with whole grain, rice and bean blend, large skewer of roasted vegetables, hummus with pita chips, pastry of the castle and two rounds of select beverages. (Please advise your server once you are seated at your table of meal request.)
And just as the dinner begins in earnest, so does the show. There’s a storyline involving treachery, deceipt and a knightly villain that I won’t give away here; suffice it to say that there’s enough jousting, swordplay, horsemanship and overall drama to keep the crowd roaring.
WHAT TO DO FIRST
Go online to check out the promotions and ticket packages. You’ll find the latter by clicking on “Ticket Packages” on the right, above the calendar, on the Baltimore Castle page. There are three packages:
Package includes preferred seating, Knights cheering banner, “Behind the Scenes” DVD, and commemorative program for each member of the party! Only $10 additional per person.
Kings Royalty Package
Package includes guaranteed seating in the front row, “Behind the Scenes” DVD, entrance group photo, Knights cheering banner, and commemorative program for each member of the party! Only $20 additional per person.
Package includes preferred seating, slice of vanilla cake, framed group photo, “Behind the Scenes” DVD, Knights cheering banner, and commemorative program for each member of the party! Only $16 additional per person.
WHAT TO BRING
Wet wipes. They’ll give you a warm towelette at the end of the meal, but you’ll probably be wanting to wipe down earlier than that. Also, if your camera requires a separate flash, remember to bring it because it’s pretty dark in the arena. And if you’re really not into eating with your hands, bring a set of utensils.