Medieval Times, Toronto, Ontario
Our original plans for the evening had to be changed when we found out that the evening’s performance of Cirque du Soleil had been sold out. A bit of phoning around and we found that we could still get tickets for the evening meal at the Medieval Times, so off we went for a meal and a bit of jousting action at the Toronto castle location of the Medieval Times chain. Whenever I am purchasing tickets, I tend to like to speak to a human (I’m rather old-fashioned that way). The conversation usually starts with something like, “I would like your best price.” Of, course, I know that in the tourism industry, in particular, the ‘best price’ is a moving target what with a variety of coupon offers, association affiliations such as CAA/AAA pricing, ‘deal of the week’, seniors discounts and, of course, all of the various on-line discounters. However, more often than not, I find that the human I’m speaking to is much better at wading through the options than I am, and, in the end, once they know that I have no interest in paying the full sticker price, they usually can find some obscure discounted price that I would likely have overlooked if I had been relying solely on the on-line search approach. Such is not always the case, but on this occasion, the woman at the Medieval Times central ticket sales office was very patient and very helpful and, before long, we had a ticket confirmation number and were heading out to our dinner and a jousting tournament.
The Toronto location, referred to as a ‘castle’ in keeping with the medieval times theme, is located in a building on the Toronto exhibition grounds. Inside, there is a general hall or gathering area which is surrounded by a number of booths offering almost anything that you might imagine every good medieval lord or lady might desire; from swords to mugs to just about anything. Everyone gets to wear their own personal paper crown to get you in the mood. Since they are color-coded, the crowns also serve as an easy way to later identify who sits in which section in the arena when it comes time to head into the arena area for meal and the tournament events.
There is one area in the hall set aside for a staff photographer to take photos, if you so desire. Looked like a pretty simple job, sort of like the Santa Claus picture process without Santa. Fun to observe though, as the photographer faced the last minute challenge of getting a large group into place just in time to get finished with photos before announcement time.
With the photography process completed, it was time for last minute instructions, a bit of friendly banter about behaving or ending up in the dungeon, and off we all headed into the arena area.
With the color-coded crowns still sitting atop our heads, the whole process of moving a large crowd of people to their proper places around the area worked out really well. As far as I know, the dungeon keeper was not required to detain anyone unduly :-).
Every good bit of entertainment requires a hero and a heroine or some such thing, so for this night’s entertainment, we began with a hero tied tight at the center of the ring and, as smoke enveloped him, he disappeared from the area, not to be heard from until much later in the show.
Tech: Light was rather dim so I upped the ISO to the 1250 – 2500 range and shot most images wide open or close to it. I was primarily using my vintage Nikon 105mm f2.5 manual focus lens. Although I have other auto focus lenses in this range, I find that this lens’ smaller size and weight works well for me in somewhat crowded environments and doesn’t draw as much attention. Because it was a fairly common lens in it’s time, it is another one of those high quality Nikon lenses from the manual focus days that is readily available at a reasonable price on auction sites such as EBay.
Our MC was now on horseback and proceeding to give advice to the audience as we were served our meal of soup and chicken and potatoes – copious quantities of everything.
Our seats at the end of the arena were not the best place from which to photograph some of the entertainment, so I often just put down the camera and sat back with my piece of chicken in hand and watched the show. The costumes of both the horses and the riders were certainly colorful and the overall choreography flowed along nicely with the pace of the meal.
I personally lost track who was doing what to whom, but, in the end, after a show of various displays of skill at horseback riding and swordsmanship and jousting, the hero returned to be victorious, the desert was served, and we all headed back out into the cool Toronto air and the world of modern lights and tall buildings.