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If you uoeno what Medieval Times is, imagine being able to go to the Super Bowl whenever you wanted, except instead of football you got to watch dudes on horses pretending to beat the shit out of each other while eating food with your hands. If you live in New York City, the closest one is in New Jersey, and if you have a car it takes about 45 minutes to get there. It costs $40 to go and is 100% worth it. My friends and I went last Friday night. I changed all of the pronouns from "I" to "you" so it was like you went instead of me. Be advised, princely reader, spoilers to follow.
It’s hard to know what the Middle Ages were like because they didn’t know how to read and write back then and even if they could, we would have no idea what the fuck they were saying. Pretty much the only way we can know what the Middle Ages were actually like is through the seminal historic account A Knight’s Tale and Medieval Times. Via A Knight’s Tale, we know that people used to kill each other for sport while classic rock played in the background. Medieval Times teaches us everything else about the Middle Ages.
The first thing you learn when you arrive on your magical journey to Medieval Times is that all castles were made out of stucco and had parking lots. If you're smart, you'll chug beers in the parking lot before entering into this spectacular world of whimsy and family-friendly bloodlust. You enter, go up to the ticket booth where the first of a legion of exasperated teens will call you Lord or Lady and, in a show of true period accuracy, use a Windows computer to print out your tickets. You then show your ticket to another bored teenager, who will give you a paper crown representing the knight you’re supposed to cheer for. You will get the Black and White Knight, and your friend will ask if that knight is the best one. "He’s just as good as any of the others, m’lady," the teen will say. You look into his eyes. You can almost to taste the regret that he feels about the time his parents found that bag of weed under his pillowcase and forced him to get a job. You then laugh at him because you are sort of drunk and totally a terrible person.
From there, you enter the Great Hall and head directly to the bar. You order a Coors Light, which the bar wench (it's not regressive because it’s the Middle Ages and Medieval Times’s obsession with detail calls for everyone in the service industry to be a woman with a demeaning title) gives to you in a giant souvenir tankard full of beer that costs $21. You protest and she will glumly pour it out and give you another, more reasonably-priced $7 beer in a plastic holographic cup. As they run your credit card on an authentic credit-card machine from 1257 A.D., just remember that these kind wenches don’t want to try to rip you off—this is just how they did it in the Middle Ages. You doth protest too much, it seems.
While drinking your beers, you and your friends will survey the Great Hall and its dazzling souvenir swords and photo-ops and be transported into a wonderous land of honor and chivalry, where horns that sound vaguely like the "Trophies" beat play in a constant loop. Two distinct genres of humans surround you: families and large groups of people in their twenties who came to get fucked up. There will be girls in club dresses and dudes wearing non-fashion cargo pants. This makes sense. Clubwear is the normal-person equivalent of Renaissance Faire gowns, and non-fashion cargo pants are the modern-day suit of armor in that they protect you from being cool. You will smile, for you are finally amongst true humanity and not human colostomy bags in the Lower East Side getting hammered and trying to impress girls by flashing money they earned from jobs they hate. Verily, sir, these people are getting hammered because it is a natural expression of they joy they feel from being alive.
A horn will sound. It is time for the games to begin! You enter the arena, and be seated in your section according to the color on your paper crown. An announcer will enter on his noble steed and set the scene: A tournament is to be held on this most glorious of Friday (k)nights. He will then shout out each section and, when the light shines upon you and your friends, you will truly feel as if you’re shitting gold. You scream, “We made it!” just like Drake probably did when he went to Medieval Times. The other drunk twenty-somethings around you will love it, while the families will tolerate this, and every other time you scream the word "fuck" out of excitement. You will drink more, and soon enough another wench will bring you Dragon Soup, made from Real Dragons™, that you will sup directly from the bowl. You will be disappointed when you discover dragon tastes like tomato bisque, only to find your spirits immediately raised when the wench returns to give you Castle Bread, aka ponderously garlic-y Texas toast.
As their swords clash and sparks fly, you wonder if anybody has ever gotten laid because they won at Medieval Times.
The Knights of the Realm will be introduced. They ride out on their horses and, as you notice their clipped tails, you will become momentarily concerned with the treatment of these horses. Still, it’s the Middle Ages and PETA doesn’t exist yet, so it's all good. The horses do tricks, which you will enjoy. You are having a good time.
Next comes the falconry, which is easily the coolest thing about the Very Cool Medieval Times Experience. A dude comes out and pretty much makes out with his falcon and then sends it flying around the arena. Impressively, it will not shit on your food as it flies overhead.
At some point, the king and his daughter will be introduced, as well as some dude on a horse who seems vaguely sinister. You will be drunk and not 100% remember the exact details, especially after the princess implies she's fucked a bunch of the guards and the king pronounces in an accent somewhere between London and East New Jersey, "Let the feast be served!" You will be served a bountiful meal of bland chicken breast, half a baked potato and one kinda chewy spare rib, just like they did in real medieval times.
It is around this time that the knights begin to show off for you, throwing roses into your section and then doing weird horse tricks involving sticking their lances into rings and throwing flags back and forth. Some kid the announcer refers to as a "squire" comes out and shovels up horse shit with a pitchfork-looking thing. Apparently, in order to be a knight at Medieval Times, you actually have to go through the same training you had to go through to be a knight IRL. That seems like it would suck, but at least it proves the dudes out there are truly 'bout that knightlife.
When it's time for the knights to start jousting, they lower a net in order to protect the audience from splinters, or flying body parts, or whatever. Your knight goes second, and gets his shit lumped pretty much immediately. He's knocked off his horse by a valiant opponent, and then they fight to the death in hand-to-hand comment, banging swords and throwing each other around with sub-WWE fakeness. As you—and everyone else at Medieval Times—are pretty hammered by this point, it's perfect. Your knight ends up shivving his opponent with an axe. You cheer because that bitch ass knight had it coming to him.
The next fight is slightly more interesting. Even though it’s fake, these two knights seem genuinely pissed off at each other, like they don’t get along outside of work. As their swords clash and sparks fly, you wonder if anybody has ever gotten laid because they won at Medieval Times. Your friend Lauren starts extemporaneously ranking the knights in order of hotness, and the question is somewhat answered: Maybe.
Much too soon, it is time for the final battle. One of the knights is a bad guy,and if he wins the whole kingdom is fucked or something. Anyways, the good knight and the bad knight fight with two swords each and flip around and shit, and the speakers play a very authentic medieval-style guitar solo and the bad guy gets locked in a tower and, just like that, it’s all over. Combat is great. And Medieval Times is awesome.