You've got to feel sorry for Medieval Times in Buena Park. It used to be so one-of-a-kind, the only place you could go other than Lincoln Club meetings to smell horses, watch fake jousting and rip open baby hens with your bare mitts. Now there are Medieval Timeses all over the U.S. and Canada. There's even an entire hotel that rips off the restaurant's theme: the Excalibur in Las Vegas (although instead of a re-created dungeon, the Excalibur's got a torturous sports book).
I wind up at Medieval Times all the time, though I'm not sure why. Perhaps I've had to entertain waves of out-of-towners looking for something to complement their Disneyland visit. Maybe it's been a spate of birthday parties for ADD-afflicted little runts whose parents couldn't secure a good time at the local paintball battlefield. Or it could be that I'm just a sucker for any place that mixes mugs of cold ale, bosomy maidens aplenty and do-or-die gaming—just like Lincoln Club meetings.
Accountants for the corporation that owns Medieval Times can probably produce figures that tell otherwise, but based solely on my visits there, it seems the crowds are smaller in recent years than they used to be.
Could it have been the movie The Cable Guy, which so deliciously lampooned the whole Medieval Times experience in scenes that were filmed at the actual Buena Park location? What was scary was that filmmaker Ben Stiller—aided ably by Jim Carrey's cable installer, Matthew Broderick's cable customer, and especially Janeane Garofalo's serving wench and Andy Dick's overacting king of Medieval Times—didn't have to go that far over the top to mock the place.
But no one other than me saw The Cable Guy, so that can't be the reason attendance seems down to me.
So I come back to the oversaturation of the medieval market, which can't be helped by TV shows such as Xenaand Herculesand whatever the hell else channel 5 plays around 3 p.m. on Sundays.
Then, of course, we've had to endure years of the religious Right, which is living proof that the real medieval times weren't all that quaint.
Perhaps the time has come to venture further back into time in order to get our kicks. How about genetically engineering dinosaurs from ancient tree sap containing bugs that had bitten the prehistoric beasts? We could put the mammoth animals on Catalina Island—who goes to Catalina anymore?—and charge shitloads of money for people to spend the night there. Merchandising would go through the roof—certainly more so than those crappy plastic crowns they hawk at Medieval Times. Hurry, before someone else gets the idea.
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