Tournament of Kings gives all ages a taste for Middle Ages
By Susan Stapleton
Travel to the Middle Ages, a time of kings, knights, merry maidens and even a fire-breathing dragon, with the Tournament of Kings, one of the fun ways to combine dinner theater, daring feats and dazzling fire displays with a show fit for kids.
The show at the Excalibur takes place under the casino floor, where a horseshoe arena is ringed with seating representing seven different countries. Merlin the magician serves as host for the night, teaching guests how to properly toast with a “Huzzah!,” to cheer by pounding hands on the table and to figure out who their hero for the night is. Guests sit in different tiered sections representing their country or the dragon, the dark knight Mordred and his evil minions.
Soon, visitors get their first taste of Dragon’s Blood, a warm tomato soup served in a bowl without utensils, another tip of the hat to the medieval theme of the show. Then, a drum band gets the party started, followed by merry maidens dancing and finally an introduction to the seven kings, czars and emperors; they ride out on plumed horses wearing full armor and brightly colored costumes to prepare for the tournament, all at the behest of King Arthur. King Arthur’s son Christopher, the heir to the throne, is even on hand for the events.
A large round table painted in red, green and blue with gold lions and Celtic designs drops from the ceiling to kick off the dinner. Guests get a whole Cornish hen, steamed vegetables and a biscuit, again without utensils, to join in the feast. Much huzzahing on the part of the kings keeps the crowd participating.
The evening grows somewhat unsettled when Mordred wants to be part of the tournament, introducing fiery theatrics. The dragon section goes crazy, getting behind its designated “hero” for the night. Then the kings prepare for the explosive battles that follow, participating in horse races, sword fights, jousting and more for a chance to win the tournament. Guests join in, cheering wildly for their country.
Just as the king declares a winner, the kings must unite to fight a returning Mordred in more bouts. Dazzling fire displays with guests close to the action get everyone in on the heat of the battle. The theatrics continue with good versus evil until one side finally wins the night.
Just recently, Tournament of Kings debuted new costumes in the show with more vivid colors and designs. Designer Frederick Pinaud, who has worked on French operas, created new gowns for the maidens, brightly adorned tournament attire for the knights and a magnificent new robe befitting Merlin. Dashing new accoutrements to the castle at one end of the arena give it rotating doors, stairs and towers, while King Arthur now sits on a lavish red and gold throne.
Tournament of Kings certainly gives guests a taste of the Middle Ages that’s great for kids of all sizes.