Visitors flock to Southern California for vacation looking to fill their days and nights with as much fun as they can afford! If you are visiting Buena Park or nearby Anaheim you probably have on your itinerary to attend an interactive family dinner. The decision is which one to attend – Medieval Times or the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Having visited both, I will say they are both fantastic and provide great fun for the family, but there are some differences to keep in mind depending on your children’s interests, ages and what you hope to get out of the experience. To help you make your decision, we have outlined the basic information and our pros and cons of each.
Medieval Times Tournament
Medieval Times Tournament is a fantastical adventure through time back to the days of 11th century Spain. Six iron clad knights battle for the honor and title of champion for the royal court. An evening of jousting, horsemanship and falconry in an arena setting with cutlery-free dining to top it off.
As guests enter the castle they will be adorned with a crown showcasing their team colors. Each section of the arena is color coded so that audience members can cheer on their knight as he shows off his skills. The two hour tournament will keep guests of all ages on the edge of their seat.
In addition to the two hour show, guests will be treated to a 4 course meal including a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken on the bone with a garlic-bread side, sweet buttered corn, and an herb-basted potato. Soda, water and iced-tea is also included. Adult beverages can be purchased separately. Meals end with a delicious apple turnover for dessert. There are no seconds, so have some snacks ahead of time if you have a hefty appetite!
For vegetarians, the chicken is substituted for a tomato based lentil stew. Apart from the stew, no utensils are provided taking us back to the olden days. Kids will enjoy getting to eat with their hands on purpose!
Price, Logistics & Atmosphere
Attending a show at Medieval Times is not going to be a cheap night out. Ticket prices are quite hefty at $61.95 for adults and $36.95 for children 12 and under. However, don’t fret as there are almost always deals on Groupon or Living Social making it a much more reasonable affair. Apart from the ticket prices, you will definitely be goaded into purchasing some supplies to help cheer on your knight. I don’t think there is a parent with a child who can get out of the Great Hall without purchasing something! And beware for the end of the event where guests are ushered out into another room full of things to buy!
If you do not splurge for VIP tickets, plan to arrive to the venue as early as you can as seats are on a first come basis. You receive a seat number based on your arrival time. We did not know this and ended up close to the back! However, the difficulty arises when you have children who will surely get bored waiting around the Great Hall before the doors open. We would suggest arriving around 60 minutes before the show starts to go through the line to receive your hat, take photos and do some shopping in the Great Hall.
There is no intermission, so take the kids to the restroom right before the doors open. You will be able to see the show as you walk around the arena towards the restroom, but kids will never want to leave and miss even a second!
As you look around you will see that there are all types of people at the show from families, newly weds, people celebrating birthdays and just groups of adults out for a night of fun. Given the varied audience, the show does well to entertain everyone. The storyline is difficult to hear if you are at the end of the arena, but thankfully it’s not imperative to enjoy your evening.
Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
Welcome ye harties to the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure, a 90 minute show set on an 18th century pirate ship. Audience members are not just watching this dinner show, as it is an interactive experience with many opportunities for audience participation. Enjoy a feast while witnessing a musical comedy, swashbuckling stunts and live-action performances aboard the massive pirate ship in the middle of the lagoon.
Surrounding the pirate ship are 6 smaller ships where the audience is seated. Each ship is captained by a fearless (and often quite handsome!) pirate who guests cheer on throughout the show. There will be singing, stunts, cannon blasts, pyrotechnics and lots of laughter.
What is included?
A 4 course meal is also included at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Guests start with either a vegetable soup or salad with ranch dressing. Following the starter, guests can choose between the regular adult meal, a child’s meal, or speciality meals like vegetarian, vegan or gluten free. The meal ends with a delicious brownie served with ice cream. Non-alcoholic drinks such as soda, water, lemonade or iced tea are also included. All alcoholic beverages must be purchased separately.
Price, Logistics & Atmosphere
A night out at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure is also not cheap at $59.95 for adults and $36.95 for children 3-11. As mentioned above for Medieval Times, there are often deals on Groupon or Living Social, so check there before you purchase.
Tickets must be purchased in advance with reservations to ensure space is available. Also like Medieval Times, it is important to arrive as early as possible as seats are assigned based on arrival time. The earlier you arrive, the better your seat, although the arena is much smaller here, so most seats offer great views. While waiting for the doors to open, there is pre-show entertainment as well as veggie sticks with ranch dip for a snack.
The Pirate’s Dinner Adventure has family friendly showings every weekend, with week night shows starting at 7pm.
Also let your children know there could be options for audience participation if they want to get up on the pirate ship during the show. Additionally, loot is often thrown out of the pirate ship, so the closer you are, the better chance you have to catch something!
The show is quite raucous, with adult themed comedy thrown in. Additionally, it feels very slapstick ala the Three Stooges, which children find hilarious! There are pyrotechnics, cannon fire and some crazy trampoline acrobatics that will wow everyone.
If I had to compare the two, I would say that in general Medieval Times might be more appealing to more people and all ages since the dialog is not imperative for the show to be entertaining. And most kids I know are entranced by the horses, jousting, and costumes more than anything!
We found the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure to be a bit more grown up in the language used and topics discussed as part of the show. Most of it went totally over my 5.5 yr old sons head, but for some children who understand, it might be a bit inappropriate. However, my son loved the slap stick comedy type atmosphere and was giggling the entire night. For children who are pirate crazy they will LOVE the show.
For food, both my son and I preferred the meal at the Pirate’s Dinner. It was surprisingly good. The additional special meal options and a child’s menu were well thought out and appreciated. We were less impressed with the Medieval Times meal except the delicious garlic bread.
Either way, you won’t go wrong with either show as they are highly entertaining. If you have the time and can afford it, go to both!
Have you been to Medieval Times or Pirate’s Dinner Adventure? What did you think?
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