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Medieval Times set to open in summer 2006

LAWRENCEVILLE - Discover Mills turned the spotlight Thursday on its newest anchor tenant - the mall's biggest catch since an 18-screen movie theater.

Medieval Times, a dinner theater company that serves up chivalry with the chicken, did not suffer from stage fright.

Medieval Times heralded its groundbreaking with a performance of knights in a sword fight, offering just a taste of what's to come when it opens this summer.

Discover Mills will be the ninth U.S. location for Medieval Times, which built its first castle-restaurant in Orlando, Fla., in 1983. Its notoriety has spread since then and the company even made its way into popular culture when it was showcased in the 1996 film "The Cable Guy" with Jim Carrey.

The restaurant aims to recreate the experience of the Medieval tournament.

Discover Mills patrons will be welcomed into an 87,000-square-foot replica of a Medieval castle, where they will be served a four-course banquet. As they eat, they'll watch the tournament unfold with chivalry, knights, horses, romance and falconry.

Its formula makes Medieval Times a tourist attraction.

A Medieval Times arena can host 1,000 people for performances. It's expected to draw up to 400,000 additional visitors to the mall each year, said Discover Mills Marketing Director Heather Rittner.

High expectations came with Discover Mills when the mall opened four years ago on Sugarloaf Parkway. It was hailed then by former Gov. Roy Barnes as symbolic of American retail strength even in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But Discover Mills struggled in its first two years, largely because of a sluggish economy in late 2001 and 2002.

The mall has rebounded since it opened the AMC movie theater in late 2003.

Medieval Times will be counted on to help Discover Mills gain momentum in its joust with retail competitors, including The Mall of Georgia in Buford and Gwinnett Place in Duluth.

Both malls are within 10 miles of Discover Mills.

Rittner said its star of an anchor will become an instant tourist attraction and help differentiate it from other shopping centers.