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Tournament of the Kings (Las Vegas, USA)

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      25.10.2012 13:28
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      I loved it!

      The Tournament of Kings show was one of my favourite things we did whilst in Las Vegas. I saw this online before we went and it was the only thing I knew in advance that I definitely wanted to see when I was there, as I remember having seen someone attend a show like this on TV once and always wanted to go myself.

      The show is one of the few family-friendly things to do in Vegas. It is a meal and show with a medieval theme and includes horses, wizards, dancing and special effects amongst other things.

      It runs every day of the week except Tuesdays and is hosted at the Excalibur hotel - you can't miss it, it's the hotel on the south end of the strip with the orange and blue turrets and the drawbridge, located in between the New York New York hotel - which is shaped like New York City (Statue of Liberty, Empire State building and all) - and Luxor, the hotel shaped like a pyramid with a giant sphinx outside. Only in Vegas!

      All across Vegas are 'tix4tonight' booths which sell last minute tickets for various shows at a discount rate. We had planned to go to one of these booths as they were offering around a $10 discount per ticket, but in the end were too lazy to walk down there in the heat, so booked online from our hotel room. The show costs $59 per person (plus tax and fees) and this includes a three course meal. You will pay a $5 handling fee on top if booking online. It came to $141 for two of us when the fees were added, which works out as about £87 at the current exchange rate. You can also opt to watch the show without dinner at a price of $44.35 (£27.50) per person plus tax and fees.

      We went on a Sunday and despite only booking that morning we got front row seats. I was quite surprised by this, especially as the arena was fairly busy - I'd say around three quarters full. The show runs twice on some days - at 6pm and 8:30pm. We attended the 8:30pm showing and doors opened at 8:00. Las Vegas hotels are huge and some can be like mazes, but we were able to find the arena on the ground floor easily as it is well signposted once you enter the hotel.

      As we entered, we were told that we weren't allowed to take pictures or videos and that we would be 'sitting in Dragon'. I was a bit confused by this, until I realised that the arena is sectioned off into countries - France, Russia, Norway, Ireland and Spain - and then our section, that well known country, Dragon. All became clear eventually, as each section is required to cheer for and support their relevant country, whereas our section had to cheer on the evil dragon instead!

      We were seated in front of long benches onto which the food is served and due to these benches, getting in and out of the rows can be a bit of a squeeze. We were sat mid row, so the ladies at the end had to actually get out of their seats and into the aisle to let us past as there wasn't enough room for us to get through otherwise.

      Once seated we were greeted by our server, who I absolutely loved, as his sense of humour was great. I just thought his little jokes were so pathetic they were hilarious, if that makes sense! He reeled off a list of soft drinks which included water (fresh from the moat!), Pepsi or Sierra Mist and perhaps a couple of others I can't remember. I went for the Pepsi and was informed that my 'One medieval Pepsi, in medieval plastic tankard, complete with medieval plastic straw' was coming right up, which made me laugh. I'm sure that guy just loved his job! Soft drinks are topped up regularly and alcoholic drinks are also available but these are not included in the price and must be paid for separately. A barman comes around and serves these throughout the show.

      On the table is what resembles a toy frying pan, but is actually a bowl with a handle for the starter, which is soup. There is no choice in the menu, you just get what you're given and no cutlery is provided so everything must be eaten by hand, presumably to add medieval authenticity, as well as save on washing up! The starter was brought out just before the show started and was, as our server put it 'Dragon's blood soup, which tastes remarkably like tomato'. Having noted our accents he also made the obligatory 'to-may-to / to-mar-to' reference. I'd read a couple of reviews which warned not to expect too much from the food, but I actually thought the soup was really nice - very tasty and rich and quite thick too.

      The main course is brought out mid show and consisted of two potatoes with butter, a bread roll, a huge stem of broccoli and a full roast chicken, albeit a small one. I only actually ate the chicken and potatoes because the broccoli was cold (which I can't abide) and the bread roll looked strangely shrivelled up and quite frankly disgusting. Both the potatoes and the chicken were very nice, although I found the chicken to have a slightly salty flavour to it. The main problem was that since you eat by hand, I found myself concentrating on dissecting this chicken so much that I missed a whole chunk of the show, because I was so distracted. I also found a whole chicken, or Cornish hen as I believe they refer to it to be a bit on the excessive side for one person! Dessert was called apple pie but looked more like an apple turnover to me. I can't eat cooked apple as the texture makes me feel sick, so I can't comment on it, other than to say it looked quite nice.

      Onto the actual show, and it begins with a jester and Merlin coming out into the arena and talking to the audience. You will be encouraged to repeat silly sayings and raise your tankard on command. However ridiculous you feel doing this, I suggest going along with it, as Merlin will pick on those who don't, as one poor girl found out when the spotlight suddenly fell on her and she was made to repeat all the words and actions alone in front of an arena full of people!

      The show itself starts with the return of King Arthur's son and there is a lot going on. A round table descends from the sky, the knights of each country ride in on their horses wearing full armour and pretty girls (who bizarrely appeared to be dressed as pirates - or possibly gypsies?) dance on the tables and climb up on the sides of the arena and have a little sing song before battle begins...

      The battle parts were my favourite part of the show. I won't give the whole story away, but each country competes in a jousting tournament and the knights have dramatic sword fights on horseback. All of the men seemed to be excellent riders, but during the fights many came off their horses. I assume most of this is choreographed though, as are many of the swordfights, but it makes for a very dramatic and enjoyable show. It's not just the fights and horses that are worth watching though, there are also special effects of smoke and fire and this is also the first time I've seen rockets being let off indoors!

      The show lasts around an hour to an hour and a half. After the show once the lights have come on, a couple of the knights rode back into the arena and brought their horses over to the sides for the children in the audience to pet, which I thought was quite nice as I got the impression that they didn't have to do that.

      I realise this show will not be everyone's cup of tea. I'm pretty sure some of you will have read that thinking that it sounds like your idea of hell, but I loved it! Don't get me wrong, I can see how cheesy and ridiculous it was, but that's what I loved about it. Young or old I would definitely recommend The Tournament of Kings and if I got the chance I'd go and see it again.

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