Medieval Times: Chivalry, Rivalry and Revelry All in One Place
Nestled in the countryside in the kingdom of Schaumburg, Illinois, lies a lone castle drawing noblemen and women, merchants and serfs alike to witness a battle of honor. Knights from counties and kingdoms the world over travel to the castle to battle in a King’s Tournament, and only one may survive to claim the title of King’s Champion. They joust, they sword-fight, and they even eat with their hands.
This is Medieval Times, where “childhood dreams come to life,” and spectators can relive the days of kings, princesses, and brave knights-in-shining-armor.
The Medieval Times in Schaumburg is one of nine around the United States and Canada, and it serves up dinner and tournament spectacles each day. Monday–Thursday they offer one show a day, and on weekends, they let parties choose between two tournament times. Pricing starts as low as $35 per person as long as your group includes at least four people, and reservations are strongly recommended as the shows often sell out. The spectacle begins as soon as you park your car outside the castle strung with banners and flags from every kingdom represented at court. It inspires awe, excitement, and a sense that you are getting in over your head.
As you meander into the castle, squires and ladies in full medieval garb greet you. They promptly place a paper crown upon your head, and beckon you to come inside to join the merriment. The crown signals which section you will be sitting in during the show and which knight you will cheer on during the games. Before the show starts, you can wander around an arcade-like foyer. There’s a place to dress up in timely costumes and have your picture taken; there’s a booth where you can buy swords; there’s a dungeon (an extra $2 for entry), and there are not one but two bars to quench your royal thirst before the show. You can also pay an extra $20 to be knighted before the meal starts. The King enters the foyer, you put on a cloak, and the king taps you on each shoulder, welcoming you to his castle.
After the Royal Chancellor opens the gates and beckons everyone to sit in their assigned seats, the Serving Wenches and Cocktail Wenches finally arrive with food. The meal, which you eat as the story unfolds, consists of four courses “fit for a king.” It starts off with tomato bisque and garlic bread later followed by half a chicken, a spare rib smothered in barbeque sauce, and half of a baked potato. Finish it off with an apple-cinnamon pastry.
The medieval catch? You have to eat it all with your hands. So dig in, start ripping some tendons, and don’t be afraid to smack your lips and lick your fingers. Everyone else is doing it. And vegetarians—don’t fret! There’s a nice vegetarian option that my friend claimed was actually quite good. The vegetarian meal included a Portobello mushroom topped with rice pilaf, a kebab, and hummus and pita chips.
Pair the fare with a gulp of Ye Olde Pepsi or Royal Bud Light (among select other beers and cocktails). All alcoholic beverages (including shots) come with a collectable glass, mug, or goblet that may or may not glow in the dark. The alcohol is overpriced, but a King’s Feast isn’t complete without some mead to wash down your plate of meat.
As you eat, you are introduced to the characters one by one. Then the story begins. Yes, there is actually a story here. An almost two-hour play including a dastardly villain who kidnaps the hero, a princess waiting for the return of her sweetheart, and plenty of battles to the death. The show also includes a demonstration of falconry and horse showmanship, a joust, sword-fights, and hand-to-hand combat.
My review? The jousting, fighting, and theatrics are highly enjoyable if you’re able to lose yourself in the moment. You cheer on your section’s knight (go Red and Yellow Knight!), you boo the Evil Knight, and you egg on the actors as they battle to the death. The experience is best for families or large groups, but as long as you geek out about swordplay and costumes, you will have a great time. Remember that jousting and sword-fighting is violent, so plan accordingly, and consider leaving children under five at home.
Hear ye, hear ye! Pack up the car, bring your family, bring your partner, bring your friends. Or just bring that guy whose cable you installed for free last week. Head over to Schaumburg for a night of eating, drinking, and jousting at Medieval Times, the only place you can get away with wearing a sword and calling your server a “Wench.”
Location: 2001 N. Roselle Road, Schaumburg
Price: Tickets start at $35 per person. Check out their website for more ticketing information.
Phone: 1.866.543.9637 (National Contact Center)
Driving: Take I-90 W to the Roselle Road exit. Turn right on Roselle Road, and the Castle is on your right.