Updated: May 21, 2015
Medieval Times Review - Medieval Times CaliforniaA lot of people have heard of the Medieval Times dinners and shows, but not everyone knows exactly what they are, how they work, how much they cost, or what's involved. Medieval Times is a chain of 9 "castles" spread across the US in Florida, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, and Georgia (plus one in Toronto, Canada). Basically they offer a themed 2-hour dinner show, taking you back in time to the era of castles, princesses, knights, and jousting. It's kind of like being at a play (the action unfolds continuously in the arena below you, throughout dinner), complete with music, acting, dramatic lighting, and fog effects -- combined with a meal. We'll go into more details below, reviewing a recent performance at the Buena Park, CA Medieval Times (close to Disneyland). How much are Medieval Times tickets? Adult tickets are $54 and child tickets are $37
What is the Medieval Times Show and Dinner Like?I'll run through my January 2009 visit to the Anaheim/Buena Park Medieval Times location. We went on a Monday evening for a 6PM show. We had no reservations -- called during the day to confirm there were plenty of openings, then just showed up about 1 hour before show time. It took us about 15 minutes to get there from Disneyland/Harbor Blvd (see map below) -- always give yourself plenty of time in case of traffic in LA. Parking was fine - they have a large lot. We bought our tickets and went inside. There is an optional $2 "Torture Museum" ticket -- we declined, and the reports we heard were that it wasn't worth the money (you can decide for yourself if you want to try it). They will hand you paper crowns to wear and tickets indicating your seating location (the earlier you get there, the better seats you will get). Once inside, they take a picture of you with one of the "royalty" -- in our case, a princess. Of course, they offer to sell you these photos at the end of the show for $20 -- they come in a nice souvenir, folding frame/binder (pretty low pressure sale -- they drop them off towards the end of dinner at your table, if you want it pay the $20, if not, just hand it back - we actually bought ours).
OK, so now you are inside. They encourage you to arrive 90 minutes early. Unless you are worried about your seating location and you don't have reserved tickets, there is no need to get there that early. There is a main reception hall with suits of armor along the wall. There is a bar/dance floor room (pictured at right) where they hope you will buy expensive drinks. There is a sword/armory shop and gift shop, and there is a horse stall viewing area (glass-enclosed) where you can see the horses in their stalls. We looked around for 10 minutes and then wondered how we would spend the next 45 minutes.. waiting. The mix of people was probably 80-90% adults, not that many children, but there were some. Saw a lot of people there on dates, and a lot of special event types (birthdays, work parties, etc.) -- this really is an "event" kind of setting. I'm sure a lot of people visiting Disneyland attend as well, but it seemed like a lot of local Southern California people.
Ten minutes before show time, the host will call everyone towards the entrance doors (pictured at left). They will then seat people by the color of your crown (red, green, blue, black and white, red and yellow, etc.). As you walk through the doors, you enter the arena area, which is basically a sunken dirt/sand walled arena with tiered seating going up along the sides -- picture a small bull-fight arena and you get the idea. You sit facing the arena with a long common "table" in front of your group. Everyone sits in a particular color-coded section, since you will be cheering for your "knight" who is wearing your same colors. There are only a few rows of seats - I think 4, with a walkway between each row for servers to deliver food and drinks. You have a pewter plate and soup bowl, along with plastic mug and napkin -- no silverware, you eat with your hands just like in medieval times. Everyone is served the same 4 course meal (tomato bisque soup, garlic bread, half chicken + 1 BBQ rib + half roasted potato, and apple turnover for dessert), along with 2 complementary soft drinks. The food was good, plenty of chicken, not enough ribs. There is no kids menu -- everyone gets the exact same thing. They just kind of walk past with a tray and dump the next item on your plate, so there is not much in the way of real service. With the noise and darkness, you don't really talk or interact with your server at all.
The lights go out pretty quick after you sit down. Most of the time it is quite dark, making it a little challenging to eat. Down in the arena, they begin acting out the story -- 2 kingdoms vying for peace, a prince is taken prisoner, 6 knights are competing for the attention of the princess. There is about 90 minutes of horsemanship displays, contests, jousting, and hand-to-hand battles with axes, swords, and spears. Overall, I have to say the acting and action and costumes and stuff was actually quite good. We were entertained throughout. Think of it like going to a play or performance or show -- that's what you are paying the extra money for (the dinner is probably worth $15-$18), for the entertainment factor. Part of the fun is getting into the scene, cheering for your knight, booing for the bad guy, waving your banner, etc. Our show ended around 7:50, not quite 2 hours. As mentioned above, they will offer to sell you the photos they took when you first got your tickets, and they will drop off a tray for a gratuity. Afterwards, the actors in costume were available in the reception hall and bar area for photos and such.
Here's my overall wrap-up. Was Medieval Times worth the money? Yes, we had a great time. Would we go back? Probably not for a few years, or maybe if we were taking out of town guests or something to see the spectacle. The show and the food is the same each time, so once you have seen it, you've seen it. If you're visiting the Anaheim area and have a free night and want to try something fun and different, then I recommend you stop by and enjoy the show. Make sure you take advantage of any Medieval Times discounts or coupons you can find (see below) -- it will save you a lot of money potentially.
ALLERGY and ASTHMA WARNING: If you have allergies or asthma related to dust, horses, animal dander, etc. you may want to reconsider your visit. You will be in an enclosed arena area for several hours, and all this stuff will be floating invisibly in the air. I normally just get itchy eyes and nose around horses, but I found I was having asthma problems as well (normally only from cat and dog hair). So if you must go, bring whatever medications or inhalers you need to remain breathing comfortably for the 2 hours you are there.
The Medieval Times Tickets - Medieval Times Anaheim/Buena ParkYou can buy tickets online at their website (MedievalTimes.com) or you can call their reservation phone number at 1-866-543-9637 (this is for all locations). The list price for tickets is $54 per adult and $37 per child. Keep in mind that you are expected to leave a tip for your server at the end of the show (they will drop off a little tray reminding you..). They also offer some special "upgrades". The Kings Royalty package is an extra $20 per person, which guarantees front row seating, a DVD, group photo, and banners. The Royalty Package is $10 additional per person and includes preferred seating, banner, DVD, and commemorative program. Are these worth it? We showed up the day of the dinner, about an hour in advance. We got tickets (2) 4 rows up, view was fine. In my opinion, the view is really no better from the front row than from a few tows up -- might even be better a little higher up for the perspective and wider view. So personally I would not pay a hefty surcharge for "better" seats. If the place is completely sold out and your only option is to sit on the upper deck, you might consider it, otherwise I say skip it.
Medieval Times Coupons and DiscountsLike most places, Medieval Times often offers discount coupons. The most common coupons for Medieval Times that we saw was free kids tickets with a paying adult. The second most common was for $4-$10 off each ticket. Free Royalty Upgrade was another popular offer. For example, the California location used to accept the discount code "KIDS FREE WEB" when purchasing tickets online -- if you can't find coupon codes on their website, try calling their reservation number and ask about what discounts are available. If they have discount promotions in place at the time, they should inform you of this and offer you the discount. You may want to check out this coupon site for latest deals they have found: http://www.retailmenot.com/view/medievaltimes.com. They had a buy one, get one free when we checked in early 2009 -- that's a pretty good deal if you can get it.
Medieval Times California Map and LocationThe Medieval Times castle in California is actually located in Buena Park, about 10-15 minutes from Anaheim and Disneyland, which is where many visitors come from. Their street address is:
7662 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA 90620
The map to Medieval Times below shows you where it is in relation to Disneyland and how to get there. The driving distance is just 4.5 miles. From Harbor Blvd. take I-5 northbound to Hwy 91 West, Artesia Fwy. First exit is Beach Blvd - take that heading south (left turn off freeway). Medieval Times will be a few blocks down on your left -- you can't miss the castle and sign.