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Medieval Times Workers Embark On Quest To Unionize

Two actors dressed in medieval costumes engage in a sword fight on a smoke-shrouded stage.
Photo of sparking swords during a show at Medieval Times
(niXerKG via Flickr)
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Medieval Times workers in Buena Park are fighting for their keep — by seeking to unionize.

For anyone unfamiliar with their dinner-and-a-show format, Medieval Times is an immersive franchise that warps spectators back to the Middle Ages, where kings, queens, and noble knights act out a narrative drama in front of feasting spectators. The act includes jousting, sword fighting, and rival knights vying for the hand of a princess — a production worthy of the holy land of amusement parks, Orange County.

Workers there recently filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold an election. If approved, the castle on Beach Boulevard near Knotts Berry Farm would be the second location to unionize, following their kinsmen in New Jersey.

Many of the 50 performers want to organize for better wages, working conditions, and adequate staffing, according to Erin Zapcic, who portrays a queen.

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Zapcic, who has worked at the location for more than a decade, said the arena guests don’t realize how dangerous and demanding the job can be.

“We have guys who were doing three shows a day, five days a week throwing themselves off of horses at 25 miles an hour,” Zapcic says.

If successful, the Buena Park workers would join the American Guild of Variety Artists.

“We love it so much. And that's really why we're doing this is because we do love our jobs,” she said. “We just want to be able to, you know, pay our rent doing what we love. And I don't think … that's an unreasonable thing to ask.”

Texas-based Medieval Times corporation did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

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