Pirate's Dinner Adventure vs. Medieval Times

Happy New Year, princess fans! I took a brief hiatus from Story Saturday over the holidays, but I'm back with more princess updates for you. Did you do anything exciting to celebrate the new year? I attended a dinner show at Medieval Times last night. It was a great way to ring in 2018. Last New Year's Eve, I went to Pirate's Dinner Adventure. While both shows have a princess in them and are set up very similarly, I believe that the Pirate's Dinner Adventure has more to offer to princess fans and in general. Both dinner experiences assign your party a color that determines which section of the room you will be sitting in and which knight or pirate you will be cheering for. Over the course of the show, wait staff in era-appropriate costumes serve food and drink while attempting not to interrupt your enjoyment of the main event.

The reason I think that Pirate's Dinner Adventure is superior to Medieval Times is that it tells more of a story and contains more dazzling fantasy. The princess character plays a rather large role in the story. She gets kidnapped by pirates at the beginning of the show and sings a beautiful song outlining her dreams and fears as a captive. Since the story is fixed, the pure-hearted blue pirate who swears to protect the princess is always the victor at the end. Since Medieval Times is more of a competition, you never know which knight is going to win, which does make it superior in terms of the element of surprise. What Pirate's Dinner Adventure lacks in predictability, though, it makes up for in spectacle. The stage contains an indoor tank of water with a life-sized pirate ship in the middle. The princess's companion, the Golden Gypsy, performs aerial dances throughout the show as the other pirates do all sorts of stunts, games, and acrobatics. Attendees celebrating birthdays or other accomplishments are invited to the ship toward the middle of the show to launch the cannons. The performance concludes with an epic dragon battle that's comparable to Disney's Fantasmic.

Pirate's Dinner Adventure has only been around for about ten years, while Medieval Times has been open for 35. Medieval Time also has a handful of locations throughout the country, while Pirate's Dinner adventure only has two at the moment (one in Florida and one in California). That might be part of the reason that Medieval Times never felt it was necessary to update their formula. They even filed a lawsuit against Pirate's Dinner Adventure in 2012 for trying to expand with a medieval-themed dinner show that was essentially the same as theirs. Instead of a fancy set, Medieval Times uses an indoor dirt field as their stage, allowing the live horses to run around freely. There is a special balcony at one end of the arena to seat the king and his daughter, the princess, who act as MCs throughout the show. They introduce the knights and announce birthdays and other celebrations that people paid extra for. The princess at Medieval Times does not have a distinct personality since she is not meant to be the focal point. Even when a wicked knight from a foreign kingdom comes to claim her as his prize, she does not show much of a reaction.

The main event of Medieval Times is, of course, the jousting, but it takes an awfully long time for them to get to it. The first three-quarters of the show involves introducing the knights showing off their horses as they parade around the arena. The performance I saw yesterday had a lady come out and release a falcon that flew around the arena a few times. There are also a few unmemorable relays where the knights ride their horses back and forth trading flags. Whichever knight defeats the rest during the final joust has the job of casting out the foreign soldier who wants to claim the princess. The combat was pretty interesting since they used different types of swords and axes, and you could never tell if the knights were going to get back up again after they fell down. My main issue with Medieval Times is that it doesn't get that exciting until the final tier of the show, whereas Pirate's Dinner Adventure is exciting the entire time.

The first time I saw Pirate's Dinner Adventure, I imagined what a princess-themed version might be like. If there are dinner shows where you could cheer on different pirates or knights based on which section of the arena you set in, what would it be like to have a show with princesses who hail from different-colored kingdoms who perform songs, dances, and other feats while attempting to rescue a prince? Both Pirate's Dinner Adventure and Medieval Times have primarily male casts with more action-driven performances, though they can be enjoyed by anyone. I would love to see a female-driven version of this concept and wonder what kind of story that might have. There are some character dining experiences at the Disney theme parks that feature princesses such as Ariel's Grotto in Disney's California Adventure, Akershus in Epcot, and Cinderella's Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom. While the princesses do get royal introductions set to their theme music and come out to greet their dinner guests, there are no big performances or stories told throughout the meal.

I hope that all of you have had a wonderful conclusion to your 2017 adventures and have many more to come in the new year. In case you missed it, Patty Cake Productions released the trailer last night for their upcoming Little Mermaid-themed music video, "The Grande Mermaid," featuring the music of Ariana Grande. Patty Cake Productions has been wowing the internet with their pop singer/princess movie mashups for over a year now. I'm eagerly anticipating this video and look forward to seeing what other princess news 2018 will have to offer. Stay tuned to my blog throughout the year so you don't miss any of it!


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