Medieval Times Has a New Queen

At the beginning of the year, I made a post comparing Medieval Times to the similarly themed Pirate's Dinner Adventure. Shortly afterward, I learned that the dinner show at Medieval Times was being rewritten with a queen serving as hostess to replace the king and princess who had led the event in the past. The new plot revolved around the king dying in a war and his daughter taking over the kingdom as queen. It replaced the old version of the show little by little throughout the year at the various Medieval Times castles throughout the country. The actors who played the king retired and the actresses who played the princess were promoted to queen. I knew I needed to see this feminist revival of the story that boasted a new script, new costumes, new lighting, and new music, so I made plans to go back for my birthday. Today, I watched Queen Doña Maria Isabella take her place on the throne to assert her power during the traditional jousting tournament.

Most of the changes to the show were pretty subtle. If you liked it before, you'll probably feel the same way now. If you didn't, there isn't too much new content to sway your interest. The lighting and music changes would only be noticed by those who have gone often and paid very close attention. The knights' costumes look very similar to the way they did before. The queen has a more suitable dress for her new role now that she is no longer a princess. Her new costume had been promoted heavily in photo shoots leading up to the changes at my local castle. All of the promo pictures were breathtaking. Her gold and burgundy brocade gown was a vast improvement over the simplistic medieval princess dress, and her ruby-studded crown and refined makeup command respect for her new status. In person, the dress shined like a beacon of light over the arena. The metallic gold pattern was nearly blinding under the spotlight, making it difficult to look away from her radiance.

The performances were the same as the previous show, but the pacing felt tighter. They spent less time showing the horses walking around the arena in circles and more time on the actual tournaments. The same falcon lady came out for the first act, and the same colored knights appealed to their separate sections of the audience. At various points during the show, the queen handed roses down to them that they threw to lucky members of the audience. I was in the green section again, and our knight was quite the flirt, kissing each rose before throwing it to a lady. Gone is the knight from an enemy kingdom who appears and threaten to take the princess as his bride by force, angering the king. Instead, the new version has one of the queen's own knights disrespect her authority by insisting on wanting to fight to the death. The queen, as a champion of justice, refuses to allow her knights to resort to such measures because she had already suffered enough through the perils of war. Unfortunately, she is overruled by the audience's desires.

In the previous version of the show, the princess announces the birthdays and celebrations for the people in the audience who paid extra to have their names announced. As queen, she no longer has time for that nonsense, so those duties have been handed down to Lord Cedric, who shares her private viewing space on the balcony. Cedric disapproves of her pacifistic nature but respects her as his queen. He is the first person to ride into the arena at the beginning of the show. What little dialogue there is between tournament games is shared between the two of them. They have some friendly discussions about the competitions between the knights and the affairs of other kingdoms. Though the queen is ultimately forced to give into Cedric and the audience's bloodlust, she asserts her authority beautifully and adds a welcome sense of female empowerment that the princess in the previous show was unable to provide as a second in command to her father.

Queen Doña Maria Isabella is the first queen in Medieval Times' 34-year-long run. She has a much stronger female presence than her predecessor did as princess by asserting her disapproval of violence. Her shimmering gown gives girls something beautiful to behold while the horses run around on the stage. Even though I believe these changes are necessary to give the show a wider appeal, I still prefer the Pirate's Dinner Adventure show for having a more solid story and on-stage performances from both of the female characters. Queen Isabella shows us that women are just as capable of holding positions of power as men. In the end, however, Medieval Times is really about the jousting. This is proven further by the lack of care given to the acoustics for the performers. Most of the dialogue is distorted by the poor speaker system, making it difficult to understand what the announcers are saying over all the cheering from the audience. Even though the regal queen is unable to prevent her knights' thirst for blood, she gives it an admirable effort.


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