You’ll Want to Kiss Kissimmee
By Agent Suzanne Ferrara
If you haven’t been to a Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla., you are missing out on a most impressive and thrilling experience.
Your step back in time to medieval Spain begins the moment you walk across the castle’s drawbridge. Inside the replicated 11th century fortress is a huge arena in which the tournament and royal feast takes place. Your role is that of a special guest of the King of the Realm, who invited you to his royal banquet. Once the action-packed festivities begin, you can’t help but be a part of this one-of-a-kind experience and its spirited atmosphere.
You will witness all the pomp and circumstance and pageantry that goes with a medieval tournament. Six highly-skilled knights engage in a heated competition for Princess Catalina’s hand, and the tournament includes jousting, hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting.
The knights, who are costumed interpreters, take their roles and aptitudes seriously; they not only go through extensive training, but have astonishing physical strength and have proficient steed skills as well. (Fact: Stallions and Pure Spanish horses, including the revered Andalusian, that are used for the production, live on the grounds and many of the knights are their actual caretakers). The horses are trained by a master mount trainer, and after they retire from performing, are treated like royalty for the remainder of their lives at the Medieval Times’ Chapel Creek Ranch).
The dignified sport of falconry is also part of the show. The majestic and powerful bird of prey soars above the audience, all the while following the direction of the expert Royal Falconer. Throughout the show, it will be hard to take your eyes off all of the action-packed talent, even while you are being served a feast fit for a king.
Did I say ‘feast’? Guests are served a scrumptious four-course dinner on pewter plates and bowls. Everyone eats Middle Ages-style, without utensils! What’s on the menu? Tomato Bisque Soup, Castle Bread, BBQ Spare Ribs, Roasted Chicken, Herb-Roasted Potatoes, and a Pastry of the Castle (an apple turnover). (Tip: Non-alcoholic beverages are included with your admission ticket, and there’s a cash bar for alcohol. Before the show, grab a refreshing libation in the main hall, then stroll around the castle and the medieval village).
Speaking of… the Medieval Village is comprised of eight cottages that feature coppersmiths, weavers and potters of the era. Be sure not to miss the Hall of Arms which is chock-full of medieval artifacts. There’s also a dungeon, full of centuries-old relics and instruments; this exhibit, however, may be too intense for some children. (Tip: Doors open 75 minutes before the show which is the best time to arrive and take in all the sites). (Seating Tips: The King’s Royalty Package includes VIP seating, a framed group photo with the king and princess, a knight’s cheering banner and a behind the scenes DVD. There’s first-come, first-serve seating for all regular admission tickets, so arrive early).
Wondering which knight wins the princess’ hand? After their epic battles, one of the King’s brave knights is named ‘Champion Knight’, and it could be the one you were rooting for during the night!
From knights on horses to a display of thundering horse power—we’re talking high performance engines at the Old Town, Kissimmee’s Muscle Car Show and Cruise each and every Friday night. American-made Muscle Cars (cars with a V-8 engine) from 1964- on and American classics right up until 1988 rev their engines and parade down Main Street, but that’s not all; every Saturday night, Old Town plays host to one of America’s longest-running weekly car show and cruise. The Saturday Nite Classic Car Cruise invites all 1979-and-older street and hot rods, and antique classics to show off their stuff down Main Street, too. For car enthusiasts, it is definitely a dream come true, and perhaps, just a little bit of motorized heaven!!
But there’s a lot more to Old Town than just a display of engines, that’s for sure; this recreated turn-of-the-century Florida town has been a destination for family-friendly fun for over three decades. This walking district, which boasts historical architecture, has something for everyone, and offers a plethora of attractions, entertainment, shops and restaurants! It’s the perfect opportunity to get in your steps and, at the same time, take in the culture and sights of an amazing community!
Need more excitement? Board an airboat in Kissimmee and tour the stunning headwaters to the Florida Everglades; for example, Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, which the Long family began back in 1994, offers a variety of thrilling tours. (Tip: The sunset tour is a must if you want to be awestruck by the sun setting over the lake, but if wildlife is something in which you are interested, take the half-hour or full-hour tours during the morning). In addition to soaring across the swamps at speeds of 45 miles per hour, riders will come across the Florida alligator, exotic birds and much more. (Tip: The best time to see alligators is on summer days before 10:00 a.m.).
Did you know? Kissimmee is known for being the ‘Vacation Home Capital of the World’, which means there are thousands of unique houses which you can use as your home base during your vacation. Want a pool? A hot tub? An entertainment room? These homes have every amenity you could desire, from pools to movie theaters, and a number of these vacation rentals come with a beautiful lakefront setting.
Oh, and did I mention that Kissimmee is just fifteen minutes away from Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Universal Studios? Just checking. Those spots seem to bring in a visitor or two as well.
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