Want to squeeze a little history in with some great entertainment and food for your family? Medieval Times in Schaumburg transports visitors to another time, when knights in shining armor jousted on horseback and silverware was an unnecessary luxury.
Three questions for Mario Contreras, head horse trainer
Where do the horses
come from and who trains them? At Medieval
Times, we have our own breeding farm in Texas. We have the 25
horses here, but at the farm in Texas there is like over 200
horses. We use Andalusians. When they are born, they’re born black
and through time they lose their black color and turn gray or
The horses spend their first
three years at the ranch and when they turn 3 and 4, they are ready
to go to any castle and start their training. The first six to
eight to 12 months of training, we get the horses ready for their
new environment, trying to get them used to the arena, the lights,
the sound of the weapons, the people screaming in their
How do you prepare for
the show? We know exactly who’s gonna fall;
we know exactly who’s gonna do a rollout. Same thing with the
horse, they are trained to do a specific thing throughout the show.
But the most important thing, they are trained to be told what to
do. They don’t make decisions on their own. When the horses start
making decisions on their own, that’s when problems will begin.
That’s when people can get hurt.
Do horses ever get
hurt? It has never happened. We
practice every single day. For the new guys, we always make sure to
do everything standing still. They practice hours and hours to make
sure that their aim is proper. …It’s a matter of
just getting the feeling. With horses, you have to get the feeling,
how to get them to do stuff. You don’t just pull on the reins and
pull them around. You’ve gotta feel. You have to be sensitive to
ride a horse.
Recently, Medieval Times debuted a new show they’ve been working on for about two years, so I decided to check it out. If the screams of the audience during the show were any indication, the new storyline is a hit.
The last show I’d seen a couple years ago had a long, somewhat romantic story behind the action. The new show has far less plot and lots more plotting-as in outsiders wanting to wrest control of the kingdom and knights fighting to the death to save it.
“We’ve pretty much restructured it to have a lot more action, a little less story plot, so we’ve added more games to the show, more fights,” says Richard Idrizi, head knight. “It’s a lot more action-packed. We’re going for crowd reaction, and from what I’ve seen we’ve achieved it with this new show.”
Lest you think your young children will be audience to the knightly version of “Hunger Games,” be aware that the fights are carefully choreographed and innocuous enough for even young children to enjoy.
The show opens with knights on horseback and some semblance of a plot, but it slowly builds to an action-packed adventure. Knights compete in games where they are throwing their weapons at a bulls-eye or trying to spear a ring dangling in the area. Next comes the jousting along the rail, with knights falling off their horses as they’re hit, and sparks flying when shields and lances collide. The final scene is battle after battle between knights, until only one is left standing.
The reaction from the audience to the battle scenes was a long, nonstop roar-from the young girls sitting next to me wearing princess attire to the bachelor party across the way. Each section of the audience was given a color that corresponded to their knight in the arena, and people cheered enthusiastically for their knight.
The show includes dinner, but not silverware, so be prepared for a bit of a mess as you navigate chicken and ribs. We ordered the vegetarian meals for my girls, which in the past included lasagna. The new meal was roasted vegetables and peppers stuffed with rice. I loved it, but my kids would probably have preferred pasta instead of the skewered veggies.
The best part of the evening was watching the 9-year-old next to me, who was visiting with her family from Indianapolis, catch the pink rose the knight threw up to her. As she sat there in her princess headband, blushing at the knight, I was definitely transported to another time from long ago.
IF YOU GO: 2001 N. Roselle Road Schaumburg (866) 543-9637 www.medievaltimes.com Admission: $59.95, $35.95 kids 12 and under, free kids 2 and under