Medieval Times in Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Privately held company|
|Founded||December 20, 1983|
Kissimmee, Florida, U.S.
Number of locations
|United States and Canada|
Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament is a family dinner theater featuring staged medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting. Medieval Times Entertainment, the holding company, is headquartered in Irving, Texas.
There are nine locations, of which eight in the United States are built as replica 11th-century castles and one is located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada inside the CNE Government Building. Shows are performed by a cast of about 75 actors and 20 horses in each location.
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The first Medieval Times location opened in Orlando on December 20, 1983. In 1989, this location was expanded with a unique medieval village not offered at other locations.
The second location opened in Buena Park, California in 1986. By 1992, the chain had five locations. In 1993, the sixth location opened at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Toronto location is the company's sole international location and is housed in the Government Building, a Beaux-Arts structure formerly used for the Canadian National Exhibition, as opposed to an 11th-century castle replica. A seventh location opened in 1995 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
In April 1997, Medieval Times' owners sought bankruptcy protection after losing a court battle to the IRS that required the Buena Park location to pay $7.5 million and the Orlando location to pay $2.5 million in back taxes. According to the IRS, Medieval Times improperly deducted royalties, loan interest and management fees in the 1987 and 1989 tax years. When asked why the company was filing for bankruptcy the company’s bankruptcy lawyer, Alan Friedman, said, "one of the primary reasons for filing was to prevent the IRS from beginning to seize any assets."
The company emerged from bankruptcy, allowing all of its locations to continue operating. It later opened two additional Medieval Times, bringing the company to its current count of nine locations since 2006.
The chain was featured in the 1996 film The Cable Guy, and the 2004 feature film Garden State. It has also been featured in episodes of TV shows such as Friends, Cake Boss,Hell's Kitchen, and Celebrity Apprentice.
The shows change about every six years. A new show premiered in late 2017, and for the first time, the lead role was filled by a female queen. The new show is currently performed at the Schaumburg, Dallas, Lyndhurst, and Buena Park, California locations.
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The arriving guests are served bread and soup as they wait for the show to begin. It opens with the narration of the horse, followed by an Andalusian stallion running in the arena ("Horse at Liberty"), guided by the Master of Horse. Next, a light show sets the theme and also divides the West side (Yellow, Black and White, Red) from the East side (Blue, Red and Yellow, Green). Each color represents a different city in the kingdom.
Lord Chancellor, adviser to the King and the MC for the show, then introduces the knights of the realm and gives a back story to each color's section. King Carlos, knights, squires, and various serfs and wenches parade out; the King and Chancellor then make their way to the dais where they introduce Princess Catalina and call for a toast.
The Long Reins, or Long Lines part of the show demonstrates the skills of the horses, including the Trot in Place, the Passage, and the Capriole. Then the Master Falconer releases a falcon, which flies about, often directly above the guests' heads. A feast of chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and potato is then served.
The King's guards perform choreographed maneuvers, and the Chancellor and the Princess make paid announcements of birthdays or other special events. Fog and haze fill the arena, and the Herald of the North appears; he announces that his King, Lord Ulrich, promises Don Carlos a gift if he will accept it. He agrees, although the Princess warns him of the threat Lord Ulrich has posed to other kingdoms.
Next, knights on horseback compete at games, including catching rings on a lance, flag passing, and javelin tossing. After each game the Princess gives the winning knights carnations to throw to the ladies of their section. Those of the East and West then compete in a relay challenge. The Princess gives each winning knight a ribbon which they present to one lady; these are the "queens of the tournament".
At this point the promised gift from Lord Ulrich arrives: a trained Andalusian stallion. The Master of Horse and the stallion perform various tricks. The Herald of the North then announces that Lord Ulrich wants to unite the two kingdoms by marrying Princess Catalina. Knowing of Lord Ulrich's previous nefarious dealings, Don Carlos tells the Herald to return to his King with a refusal.
The jousts and fights begin; the winners change from show to show. Large nets protect the audience from the wooden splinters from the lances and flying weapons. For the jousts, each knight picks an opponent from the opposite side; the winner is determined by the last one to fall, and he is given the opportunity to strike the opponent with the weapon of his choice in the subsequent fight to the death on foot. For the fights, a knight throws a glove to another and they battle on horseback or on foot. The winner of the final match is named champion of the tournament, and chooses one of the ladies from the audience to be the Queen of Love and Beauty.
The Herald of the North now declares that he must either return to Lord Ulrich with the Princess or die in battle against a knight of the King's choosing. The King asks the Champion of the tournament if he will accept the Herald's challenge. There is a climactic fight with the Champion and his squire against the Herald and his two squires. The squires are slain, and the Champion defeats the Herald. The King asks the Herald, now in chains, to return to his King and withdraw his request, but the Herald says that he would rather die. The King decides that the Herald is too valiant to be slain and sentences him to life in prison. He is dragged away to the dungeon.
The show ends with a celebration of the Champion knight; then all of the characters appear in the arena to take their bows.
- Atlanta, Georgia (opened 2006 in the Lawrenceville suburb)
- Buena Park, California (opened 1986)
- Dallas, Texas (opened 1992)
- Hanover, Maryland (opened 2003)
- Lyndhurst, New Jersey (opened 1990; near New York, New York)
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (1995)
- Orlando, Florida (opened 1983)
- Schaumburg, Illinois (opened 1991)
- Scottsdale, Arizona (expected to open early 2019)
- "Castle Locations." Medieval Times Entertainment. Retrieved on April 29, 2010.
- Duncan, Kimberly Allyson; Rentz, Lisa Tomer (2008). Insiders' guide to Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand (9th ed.). Guilford, CT: Insiders' Guide. ISBN 978-0-7627-4407-7.
- "How Medieval Times survives in the digital age" (paper version headline: "All in a knight's work"). Toronto Star, Christopher Reynolds, Aug. 7, 2016. pages B1-B3.
- James, Granelli (1997-04-26). "Medieval Times Owners File for Bankruptcy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- Ramey, Lynn T. (2007). Race, class, and gender in "medieval" cinema. p. 111.
- "Tournament of Knights and a Tasty Tiramisu" Cake Boss, TLC, June 14, 2010
- "15 Chefs Compete". Hell's Kitchen episode 3. Season 9. July 25, 2011. Fox.
- "Getting Medieval". The Celebrity Apprentice. Season 12. Episode 2. February 26, 2012. NBC.
- Palisin, Steve (2012-05-31). "Medieval Times ready to roll out new show". The Sun News. Retrieved 2012-06-01.
- Medieval Alliance." International Medieval Alliance. Retrieved on April 2, 2007.
- "Medieval Times breaks ground in Phoenix, to open in 2019". azcentral. Retrieved 2018-09-26.
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