Are you looking for something fun and different to do with your family? If so, you might want to think about visiting Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. To celebrate my birthday, I like to find a fun experience that the family can enjoy together. Last year, we surprised the kids with a trip to Medieval Times at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey location. There are eight locations throughout the United States and one location in Canada. We chose a 5 PM dining time, though on Saturdays they host a 2 PM and an 8 PM show as well. They had no idea where we were going and were surprised when we arrived at the castle (yes, the building looks like a castle!). The parking lot was large and parking is free.
The castle opens 75 minutes prior to your show time. We arrived about an hour before the show, as seats are assigned on a first come, first serve basis. We waited on a short line upon entering the building. They do try to have you upgrade your ticket, if you have a general admission ticket, like we did. After checking your tickets, you are assigned to a knight and a horse and given a crown in the corresponding color. There are six different colored knights that you can cheer on and we were assigned to the blue knight. We then had our picture taken with the King and Princess before entering the Hall of Arms. You can later purchase the photo for a hefty price.
Depending on how early you arrive, you may be waiting in the Hall of Arms for awhile. In this beautifully decorated hall there is a bar where you can purchase drinks (served in souvenir cups)and many different vendors where you can purchase all kinds of (expensive) Medieval-themed souvenirs. We purchase a Christmas ornament on all of our family outings, but unfortunately they didn’t sell any. So, we ended up buying a key chain that my husband turned into an ornament for our tree.
After waiting a bit, we were then ushered into the Grand Ceremonial Arena. Each colored section has several rows of seating. Each row of tables faces the arena, with the first couple of rows reserved for the Royalty and other upgraded ticket packages. After being seated, our server, dressed in Medieval attire, started serving the 4-course dinner.
The meal begins with tomato bisque, garlic bread, roasted chicken, a BBQ spare rib and an herbed-basted potato. They served an apple turnover for dessert. Since this is Medieval Times, and silverware didn’t exist back then, you are required to drink your soup and eat the rest of your meal with your hands!
Let me note that there is a ton of food. The food is decent and better than expected. There is no distinction between a child’s meal and an adult meal. They do give take home containers, which we needed, to bring home any uneaten food. And a wet napkin is provided after eating to clean your hands. At the time of our visit, our waiter was friendly and polite, but definitely busy.
While you are eating the two hour show begins. The six knights perform in different feats of showmanship and competition. As noted earlier, we were cheering on the blue knight.
If your colored knight is successful during the showmanship games, he wins flowers to throw out to his colored section. After the games a net goes up around the arena and the knights engage in jousting and weaponry battles. There is a story line with an evil villain and one knight is declared the winner, which on our evening was sadly not the blue knight! During the show you will also see falconry and a horsemanship, including a choreographed dance and performance. I will note that the whole show is choreographed, including the jousting and weaponry battles. Our son, six at the time, noted that the fighting looked fake, but enjoyed it nonetheless.
General admission tickets for Medieval Times at Lyndhurst Castle in New Jersey (where we went) currently cost $62.95 for adults and $36.95 for children under 12. Royalty packages and above cost additional. However, there are often specials through the site. While the tickets are a bit pricey, dinner is included in the cost as well as the live show. The family seated in front of us had purchased an upgraded package and received a Commemorative Program (featured below) and a small ribbon flag that you can wave during the show. They kindly gave two of the programs and flags to our children, noting that their family did not need them all.
The family had a great time visiting Medieval Times. This was definitely something new and different for us to experience together as a family and something I recommend families try at least once, if given the opportunity!