Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times pin

Our autism travel experts get questions about Medieval Times quite a bit. For those who don’t know, Medieval Times is a two to four-hour long dinner/show found in nine US locations and themed after a medieval knight jousting tournament. Visitors enter a replica castle and experience a night of fighting, food, and merriment. One can see live horse tricks and falconry at many of these events.

So should or shouldn’t parents take children to Medieval Times? It honestly depends on the child.
Parents who decide to go should make sure to plan ahead and ensure their child knows what to expect.  Here is a list of factors that parents of children with autism should consider before experiencing Medieval Times.

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Noise

The show itself involves lots of noise, often magnified by microphones, from the actors and live animals. For example, one of the most distinctive loud noises is a whip cracking used several times near the end. The show itself also utilizes incredibly loud music. Finally, there is also the sound of the crowds to consider. There’s often hundreds of people sitting in a close, indoor space, many of whom get incredibly excited about the show. While the show isn’t consistently loud, the sounds of the crowds and the show combined can rise to surprisingly high levels.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents of children with noise sensitivities should ask for a table all the way in the back of the stadium. This table should ideally also be away from the center of the loudspeakers and “King’s Booth.”
  • Parents should bring earplugs or noise canceling headphones.

Lighting

The show does frequently use strobe lighting, as well as sudden changes in lighting and light color. The arena can change quickly from fully lit to nearly pitch dark, which can be disorienting. Throughout the show, most frequently at the beginning, lights move fast over the crowds, which can mean that people watching the show will have a light shine in their eyes at some points.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents of children with light sensitivities can have their child wear sunglasses to help with sudden light changes.
  • Children who have sensitivities to strobe lights could wear special strobe glasses.
  • Several vendors walk around the area selling light up items. Parents of children who might be afraid of suddenly being in the dark should consider purchasing one of these as a fun mini nightlight.

Food

The food at Medieval Times is a huge part of the experience. Guests eat food off of metal plates and bowls with no utensils. The Medieval Times menu usually offers tomato soup, garlic bread, half a chicken, corn, potatoes, and a pastry. However, there is a vegetarian menu as most locations, offering various meals such as bean stew with carrot sticks and hummus. Each meal comes with a tankard that “wenches” fill and refill with the drink chosen by guests as they sit down. Unfortunately, there’s nothing outside of the regular or vegetarian options regarding food offerings. Those observing limited diets or tastes might run into problems at this establishment.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times food

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bringing a little light, or purchasing one of the light up objects sold by the wandering vendors, might be an excellent idea for parents with children who have not eaten in the dark before and might swallow a small bone.
  • Be sure to request the vegetarian option during booking for family members who need it, and ask about exactly what will be in the meal as it is subject to change.
  • Parents of children who deal with OCD or would otherwise be uncomfortable with eating food with their hands can pack plastic utensils. They should also make sure their child has quick and easy access to a napkin at all times. Near the end of the show, the “wenches” will bring moist toilettes around so everyone can clean their hands.

Crowds

As mentioned before, there are often hundreds of people packed into the “theater in the round” arena space. Guests are seated in long rows on benches, and getting people in and out of the area can take a long time. Those who have to go to the bathroom and get stuck between two people usually have to hop over the chairs, involving a lot of physical dexterity. Once seated, everyone is very close to one another and often cheering, laughing, or booing loudly.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times knight

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should sit as far back as possible. They should also sit their child at the end of the row so that the child isn’t stuck between two people and can quickly leave if they need to go to the bathroom or decompress.
  • Parents might want to research times when the tournament is less busy, as there will be fewer people there and the chances of being in a row with no other families are much higher.

Etiquette

Medieval Times is a show that involves live animals and actors. The show both lists on their website and frequently reminds patrons on the site that no one should bang their cups or throw items into the arena for risk of upsetting the horses. Some of the shows include a falconry portion where a falcon will fly over the heads of the audience members. Guests are frequently reminded that they should not reach up for the falcon as it flies overhead or otherwise confuse it, as the falcon has sharp talons. And of course, while many guests heckle the Knights as part of the show, several of the same rules of watching a theater production still apply here in regards to treatment of actors.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times horse

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be watchful of flighty children, particularly during the falconry segment.
  • Children should sit at the end of the row in case the parent needs to take them outside of the area for a moment to calm down.


Have you taken your kid with autism to Medieval Times? What are your tips?

 

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