Why is being a tourist in your own city something that never tops the “list of things to do”? Just last week I read Amy from Joey and the Owl is moving from New York City to the suburbs, and in her farewell post to NYC she commented how few tourist attractions in the city she’d actually been to. It made me pause to reflect on the many incredible sites and attractions that Toronto has to offer, practically on my doorstep. I do make an effort to visit the museums and art galleries, and I have a theatre subscription to both Mirvish Productions and The Young People Theatre, but there are so many places I’ve left undiscovered.
Like, Medieval Times.
Last week Carol and I, along with our families, ten of us in total, trekked through the congested streets of downtown Toronto in frigid arctic temperatures to arrive at the Exhibition Place, home to Medieval Times.
Top 5 Reasons You Should Visit Medieval Times
- Betcha Didn’t Know That!
While Medieval Times is simply a fun way to spend time together as a family, it’s also educational, and arguably much more enjoyable than just reading about the Dark Ages. Servers are aptly referred to as serfs or wenches. There are no french fries or burgers, only fare that would be typical of a gluttonous medieval feast. The castle is dark and the lighting used is minimal to replicate the primitive castles of the era, but as Carol’s young son pointed out me, luckily this castle has heat.
- Is It Real?
Where you sit at Medieval Times matters, unlike a traditional theatre. Each seating area represents a knight, and it’s your duty as the king’s guests to cheer on your knight to victory as he risks life and limb in this tournament of heraldry.
Luckily for us, we were seated in the front row and had a clear view of all the action. Seating is based on first come, first serve unless you’ve chosen to enhance your experience and for a fee. Carol and I spent some time surveying the various levels and with all seating areas, the view is clear and the knights do make a considerable effort to engage the crowd regardless of position.
Our six boys were sitting at the edge of the seats for the entire spectacle. Wearing their crowns, and waving their black and white flag they cheered for our knight, who impressively captured their attention, Carol’s heart (until her son stole her intended flower), and several rounds of the tournament.
It was during the car ride home that my boys peppered us with questions, namely, “was it real?”. I love that they are young enough to be swept away by the magic of theatre and make believe. I think it added to the overall awe of performance and how much we enjoyed it. I explained to the boys it’s just like a play with actors who practice, and many behind the stage hands that make the experience come to life. An interactive show like this is a good introduction to live theatre if you have a child who isn’t likely to sit through a lengthy play with minimal action.
- A Feast Not Only For The Eyes!
I imagine that one doesn’t go to Medieval Times solely for the food, but it’s worth noting that while the fare isn’t going to top any “best of” lists, it’s tasty enough and was a hit with the kids. Garlic bread and a tomato bisque were followed by a half roasted chicken with spare ribs and a potato wedge – all served warm and eaten without utensils. My boys rejoiced! I have to point out that while the food may not be winning any awards the service does. Guests’ dietary restrictions are readily accommodated, like our nut allergies. The vegetarian dish, 3-bean stew with fire roasted tomato and brown rice, was served to 2 of our party and while they ate with spoons, they seemed to enjoy it just the same. Be sure to ask for a take-out container to take home your left overs!
Halal meals are available upon request.
- It’s Joust About Unbelievable!
The jousting tournament was actually quite riveting and within minutes, Carol and I found ourselves cheering alongside our boys. The jousting lances splinter when they’re clashed and the swords spark with each cross, eliciting lots of excited squeals. On select days in April your child can experience Knight Training where they can learn first-hand how treacherous life as knight can be and how dangerous the weapons truly are. All Knights-in-Training will be knighted by King Carltos in a special ceremony. Reserve your space here.
- Because It’s Fun!
Let’s put aside all the lessons in history and theatre for a moment, and dwell on perhaps the most surprising for me. Medieval Times is fun! It’s really fun! How liberating it was to not only allow but encourage my rowdy group of boys to scream, cheer and boo!
And because I am a mom, and this is something that all moms want to know, I will share that the restrooms were plenty and clean. And because I am a mom, and this is something that all moms want to know, there are several gifts and treasures to be purchased before, during and after the show – plan accordingly.
Be sure to visit the Medieval Times website for discount codes, birthday specials, and a complete overview of the show with information about medieval life and times.
Little Lords and Ladies Medieval Reading List
Medieval Jousts and Tournaments by John Green
Medieval Castle Sticker Picture by A.G. Smith
Knights and Castles by Rachel Firth
Sticker Dressing Knights by Helen Davis
You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Medieval Knight by Fiona Macdonald