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07/01/2007 - By Helene Dortheimer
Imagine living during the era of squires, knights, and fair maidens, when honor and power were decided by jousting competitions. Well, imagine no longer. In Lyndhurst, NJ those times come alive five times weekly at Medieval Times...
You and your family can now experience a journey back to the 11th century, while enjoying hours of excitement, feasting, and fighting of a time gone by. The fun begins the minute you walk through the castle doors, as you are greeted by King Alfonso and his daughter, Princess Esperanza. All guests receive a colored crown, corresponding to your assigned seating area and the knight for whom you’ll be cheering during the show. The Master of Ceremonies commands the Trumpeters of the Realm to announce the opening of the Grand Ceremonial Area. Once settled into your assigned area, your four-course feast will be served with precision by wenches and serfs; meals are served “medieval style” – without silverware, but with plenty of napkins! Your appetite will be whetted with the aroma of savory garlic bread accompanying a steaming hot vegetable soup, ladled into pewter bowls. Next you will dine on roasted chicken, spare ribs, and seasoned potatoes. This delectable feast is topped off with the Castle’s special pastry; also included are two rounds of beverages. A cash bar is also available throughout the show.
As the show begins, the pageantry and non-stop action bring you back to a time when a princess’s love for a handsome knight in shining armor might have led to a confrontation between the knight and a turncoat warrior in a battle to defend the crown. Knights in full armor riding magnificent Andalusian horses, jousting matches, and royal trumpeters all come together to create an event with an incredible air of authenticity.
The incredibly beautiful Andalusian horses are descended from a thousand-year-old pure bloodline. These Spanish purebreds were the preferred mount for Royalty and Knights since the 11th century. Medieval Times cares for more than 300 of these splendid animals, which are bred and trained specifically for their dinner attractions. Great care is taken as they are introduced into halters and lead ropes; they are petted and brushed so they become comfortable working closely with people. Each is also implanted with a microchip to insure positive identification for life, which also assures the continued purity of the breed. Once the horses are 2 years old they begin simple training, which includes lunging, work with long reins, and introduction to saddles. Then they are transferred to their assigned Castle location where they are taught advanced dressage, using positive reinforcement. After several years of living in the spotlight, the steeds move to a comfortable “retirement” Texas ranch.
As the games begin, the knights vie for the lead in the flag toss, ring pierce, and javelin throw; the skills honed here are designed to enhance the knights’ battle skills. Next up is the joust; the trumpets sound and knights in full armor ride in on the Andalusians charging at each other and brandishing 10-foot lances with the intent of toppling the opposition. The battle continues on foot using authentic weapons of the medieval era, including swords, axes, mace, and bolo, all toward their ultimate quest for victory. The lance is used as the primary offensive weapon. The mace is heavy, made with a wooden handle and a quatrefoil-shaped head, and can deliver a crushing blow with a single strike. Two types of swords are used – the espada, a one-handed short sword used on horseback or in combination with a shield, and a mandoble, which is longer and heavier and used (on foot) with two hands to deliver powerful blows. A Bolo is a spiked ball attached to a wooden handle by a short chain; when swung, the ball debilitates with high-speed and crushing momentum. The battle will mesmerize you, and includes some exciting twists and turns; however, as in all fairy tales, truth, honor, and love ultimately triumph over evil.
After all the theatrics, you’ll have an opportunity to relax and visit the Knight Club, where you can enjoy full bar service, music, and dancing. The knights and royalty are on hand to greet guests, sign autographs, and pose for pictures. The room is decorated with authentic suits of armor, detailed etched swords and shields, and medieval murals and banners, all adding to the atmosphere.
After experiencing the thrills of this amazing spectacle, you (or your children) may feel a yearning to actually step into the armor of a knight. What would that take? Well, Medieval Times also has a training program. All future knights must start out as squires and go through 375 hours of intense training before attaining the ultimate goal of knighthood. Agility and strong gymnastic abilities, as well as precision timing and coordination, are musts to keep a knight’s battle skills exciting and safe. Intense practice is required to become a strong swordsman – the weapons used are authentic in size and design. The armor is heavy, but knights must be able to move quickly. Once all this is achieved, you too can become a noble and mighty subject of the kingdom.
Medieval Times launched their unique concept as a dinner attraction in 1973, on the island of Majorca. It was so well received that 4 years later, in 1977, it opened as it is today in Benidorm, Spain. In 1983 the Spanish invasion hit Kissimmee, FL and quickly grew in popularity, with locations in seven more U.S. locations and one in Toronto, Canada. The Lyndhurst location has been open since 1990.
The mission of the owners is to provide outstanding customer service and entertainment; that certainly has been achieved, as evidenced by the thousands of subjects who enter the castles throughout the year. To get a taste of Medieval Times, visit their colorful and exciting website, where you can watch a promotional video of the events and learn more about the show and the beautiful, legendary horses that play a major role in their presentation. There is also an online Educational Curriculum for teachers, geared toward 7th-grade students, titled, "The Legend of El Cid – A Story of Medieval Knighthood." Gift certificates, special packages, and ticket reservations are available online as well.
So pile your princesses and knights into the car, or make it a fun evening with friends, and enter the magical world of Medieval Times.
149 Polito Avenue
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071
Adults: $52.95 (Royalty Package $62.95)
Children 12 & under: $37.95 (Royalty Package $47.95)
The Royalty Package includes preferred seating, Knights cheering banner, commemorative program, and a souvenir DVD for each member of the party!
Reservations available by phone or online
Sundays: 4:30 pm
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 7:30 pm (closed July 4th)
Fridays: 8 pm
Saturdays: 4 pm & 7 pm
From NJ Turnpike: Take Exit 16W, Meadowlands Sports Complex, to Route 3 West. Exit Route 17 South, Lyndhurst. Turn left at the light onto Polito Avenue. Castle is straight ahead on the right.
From Garden State Parkway: Exit 153A to Route 3 East. Exit Route 17 South, Lyndhurst. Go straight at the light onto Polito Avenue. Castle is straight ahead on the right.
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