- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2007

A trip back in time begins at Arundel Mills Mall.

That’s where the local branch of Medieval Times — part theme park, part “Knights of the Round Table,” part horse show and history lesson — provides an anchor for the huge shopping center.

The California-based chain goes all out for the themed-dinner experience. The medieval trip begins in line for tickets, where a stone castle facade has been created to separate the mall’s present-day reality (Dairy Queen and electronics stores, for instance) from 11th-century Europe.

“History comes alive here,” says Rae Ann Cinquanto, marketing manager for Arundel Mills’ Medieval Times. “We take people back in time for the kind of experience they had before TV and before Xbox. They went to shows.”

Medieval Times does a good job of drumming up spirit before the two-hour show. Visitors are ushered into an open space made to look like a castle’s great hall. Each party is assigned a color and given a paper crown to match the color of the section in which the group will be sitting. Group members then can cheer for the knight wearing their color.

The waiting area also provides a chance to purchase all things medieval, from children’s princess and knight costumes to replica swords to chess sets to a full suit of armor that can run into thousands of dollars. Of course, Medieval Times souvenirs are available, too.

Finally, a trumpet blows, and visitors are seated in the arena. The show follows a basic script: The king and his daughter, the princess, have gathered the knights to celebrate winning a great battle. A feast is held. The knights and horses compete in tests of strength, agility, endurance and bravery. A new champion is crowned.

“To honor, to glory, to chivalry, to victory and to knights of the realm — cheers,” the king toasts as he raises his glass to open the feast.

Dinner — included in the ticket price — is then served. The menu is the same for everyone: vegetable soup, roast chicken and potatoes, a spare rib, garlic bread and a piece of pastry. The meal is eaten medieval style, so there are no utensils (but plenty of napkins). Costumed serving maidens and serfs stay in character while delivering the meal.

During dinner, smaller, gentler acts perform in the oval-shaped theater. The Andalusian and Friesian stallions perform jumps, gait tricks and synchronized maneuvers. The resident falconer shows how his bird can fly and return on command.

The real action begins soon afterward. The six knights take part in jousting, throwing spears at targets, stick-fighting and “battling to the death.” The falls and fatal injuries are highly choreographed, but it still is a lot of fun, particularly for action-oriented preteen boys.

In the jousting scenes, the knights ride at one another at full speed. Battles usually continue even on the ground, with knights grabbing medieval weapons for defense and attack.

The king gives the knights a break by reading a lengthy birthday roll of all the citizens celebrating a big day at the show. On many weekend days, a dozen or more birthday parties are seated in the arena. A birthday package is available for purchase. For an extra $16 per person, partygoers get preferred seating, programs and birthday cake for dessert.

Medieval Times also does weekday matinees several times a month. School groups can take a field trip to watch the knights as part of their history studies.

“The daytime shows include a presentation by the princess about the wardrobe of the Middle Ages and how one becomes a knight,” Ms. Cinquanto says. “We also have education materials and a Web site for teachers.”

The knights and falconer also take their show on the road to schools, Ms. Cinquanto says. The swords make the trip. The horses stay behind.

When you go

What: Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament

Where: 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, Md.

Directions: From Washington, take Interstate 95 North to Route 100 East. Follow signs to Arundel Mills Mall.

Hours: Showtimes vary. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. There is an evening show all other days, with matinees as well on weekend days. Check the Web site or call for specific times. Phone: 888-we-joust. Web: www.medievaltimes.com.

Admission: $48.95 for adults and $36.95 for children 12 and younger. The price includes dinner, show and soft drinks. Other beverages, tax and gratuity are not included. Group rates are available. Many shows sell out early, so advance reservations are recommended.

Parking: Mall parking lots can get very crowded. Plan ahead on weekends.


• Medieval Times is a theme restaurant chain with nine locations nationwide, including Arundel Mills Mall. The show offers a medieval experience, from costumed knights participating in a jousting tournament to a mystical wizard to a feast eaten with bare hands.

• The show is fun for the whole family, but very young children might be scared by the darkness in the arena, the loud sounds and the violence of the knights battling.

• The experience may end up being quite pricey. Besides the ticket price, there are many extras, including souvenir photos ($20), an upgrade Royalty Package (preferred seating and a commemorative program) for an additional $10 per person, plus dozens of souvenir items available for sale.

• The Web site warns visitors who are worried about allergies or asthma (live horses in an enclosed space) or strobe lighting that they enter at their own risk.

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