Whenver I’m around horses I revert to my twelve-year-old self. If I get too close and they nuzzle me (which they do, because they can feel the love) I actually tear up because I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. I also love history and eating, so you can just imagine my reaction to Medieval Times. They have knights and squires and wenches and chivalry and a king and a princess and a falcon and and and HORSES.
See? I’m twelve again.
I was invited to visit the Chicago Medieval Times and I accepted gleefully. I’d been to the location in Myrtle Beach, but that was almost twenty years ago (when I was closer to actually being twelve years old), so I was excited to check out the local castle, which I drive by every time I go into the city. If you’ve driven on I-90 west through Schaumburg you’ve seen it. It’s right off of the Interstate, and with its glowing and distinctly non-Medieval neon sign you can’t miss it.
My husband and I arrived right before the show was about to begin. We were worried that we might miss some of the festivities, but the multi-step check-in process was very efficient. It actually felt like a friendly version of the process to see Santa in “A Christmas Story”: receive greeting, pick up ticket at cashier, show ticket, choose color, don crown, pose for (or decline) photo, enter hall. From there we had the option to get a drink at the bar or browse the merchandise before finding our table. We opted to go straight to our table as we could order a drink (extra) from our seats.
As we entered the arena we could feel the excitement. Attending this dinner and a show is an Event, and it’s also the site of many special occasion celebrations. For an upgrade, the Princess will announce your birthday or anniversary or whatever you choose during the show, and there are usually many, many people celebrating something.
The show itself is pageantry and heraldry. The color you choose at the beginning decides who your Knight will be, and you’re seated with others from your realm. As feats of horsemanship, swordsplay, jousting, and falconry take place before you, you dine on dragon’s blood (tomato basil soup), baby dragon (juicy, tender delicious roast chicken), and dragon toes (roasted potato), with your hands. There’s something primal about tearing off a chunk of chicken – I mean dragon – thigh with your bare fingers. When you’re done you get a hot towel so you can head back into the civilized modern age.
A word on those horses: WOW. These horses and their trainers are masters in the art of dressage. Being a lover of the graceful beasts I was a little concerned about their well-being. They curtsy, dance, and jump in place, and while it’s majestic and awe-inspiring, I wondered if it was healthy for them. Rest assured, they are happy and are well taken care of and are like family to the trainers. My husband is friends with one of the actors’ wives and she said the horses are almost taken care of better than the staff! Once the horses begin to slow down they retire to their own ranch, where they’re pampered for the rest of their lives. You can read more about these beauts on Medieval Times website.
The horses aren’t the only impressive athletes. The knights fight with real weapons, and they mount and dismount with ease as lances shatter and sparks fly.
A visit to Medieval Times is definitely Disney-esque, with its efficient crowd control, well-oiled serving staff, elaborate souvenirs, and exciting entertainment. It’s a family-friendly evening of fun that’s suitable for celebrations or just because.
Medieval Times is located at 2001 N Roselle Rd in Schaumburg, IL. I was invited to attend as their guest, but all opinions are my own and not influenced at all by the HORSES!