T.O. gets medieval feast extravaganza

After establishing five u.s. 'castles' over the past decade, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament will unveil its premier Canadian complex next month.Medieval Times offers a dining experience unlike anything most Canadian restaurant-goers have probably experienced in their lifetimes.No cutleryNightly, patrons are...

After establishing five u.s. ‘castles’ over the past decade, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament will unveil its premier Canadian complex next month.

Medieval Times offers a dining experience unlike anything most Canadian restaurant-goers have probably experienced in their lifetimes.

No cutlery

Nightly, patrons are served a medieval-style, four-course meal – no cutlery, please – as authentically costumed knights engage in displays of equestrian skill and daring.

The new Canadian venue – which includes a 1,350-seat dinner and show arena, as well as separate facilities for the kitchen, private banquet halls and horse stable – is a 111,000-square-foot castle at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

Doug Blakely, Medieval Times’ director of marketing and sales, says the meal and show are based on authentic northern Spanish history, circa 1093.

Blakely says customers play the role of ‘guests’ of the count, who serves a meal and entertains them in grand style.

Each two-hour dinner and show involves 60-70 costumed performers and 20-24 horses.

The meal, which costs between $32.95 and $39.95 (taxes and alcoholic drinks not included) includes an appetizer, soup, and entree of roast chicken and rack of ribs.

Arena

The dining tables are located around the perimeter of an oval arena in which the knights perform and engage in mock jousting competition.

Blakely says Medieval times offers ‘excellent entertainment value combining sport, medieval fantasy and a horse show.’

Three hundred full- and part-time workers will be employed at the site, which was developed at a cost of $6 million, says Blakely, adding he estimates the dinner and show will attract between 350,000 and 500,000 patrons in the first year.

In-house advertising

Medieval Times’ advertising is handled in-house out of its California head office.

Blakely says the ad budget for a Medieval Times venue typically ranges between 5% and 10% of revenues.

Western International Media is handling the media for the Toronto venue.

Blakely says the company plans to open in other Canadian cities, although it has yet to make any firm commitments.