You think that after a day in the parks, thats all there is? Oh-so-wrong. Orlandos
nights are just as jam-packed as its days.
You name it, its here. Comedy clubs, dueling pianos, a Texas two-steppin'
rodeo bar with live bull riding. Polynesian luaus and cartoon
character dinners. Fireworks and parades. Themed dining events
ranging from medieval feasts?no forks'to pirates loot and high-stepping
Lippizaner stallions. Rock 'n roll, disco, blues. Dixieland jazz,
modern jazz, country music, alternative music. Local talent, national
talent, live music, disc jockeys. Indoor entertainment, outdoor
entertainment. Massive movie theaters with 20 screens going at
once, avant-garde films, premieres...and plenty of cartoons.
Martini bars, cigar bars, piano bars. High-energy dance clubs,
hanging-out taverns, posh supper clubs. English pubs, Irish pubs,
singalong pubs. Mexican margaritas, French cognac, beer from every
corner of the globe, the trendiest concoctions on the continent.
Happy hours, late hours, wee hours.
Dining with kings and stallions No place in the world loves a
theme better than Orlando, where everything from bedrooms to barrooms
bears, at least, themed decor. That fixation certainly doesn't
stop at night. Themed dining entertainment has risen to new heights
in Orlando?creative restauranteurs have applied their pull-out-all-the-stops
enthusiasm for dining-entertainment combos to come up with themed
dining events that have been drawing crowds for nearly two decades.
You can keep your head while everyone around you is losing theirs
at King Henrys Feast; you can toss your handkerchief to a knight
in shining armor at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. You
can cheer on the "good guys" in a fast-draw Wild West show at
Wild Bills Wild West Dinner Extravaganza or boo the evil pirates
providing avast-ye-matey entertainment at Pirates Dinner Adventure.
Carpets fly and high-stepping, aristocratic Lippizaner stallions
perform "airs above the ground" at Arabian Nights. Knock twice
and tell 'em Joe sent you at Capones Dinner and Show, where the
days of flappers and Prohibition spats come to life.
Rootin'-tootin' and ivory ticklin' Longtime leader of the rootin'-tootin'
dancehall pack is Victorian-themed Church Street Station, spread
out across several downtown blocks centered around an old railroad
track no longer in use. In its five showrooms, Church Street features
rock 'n roll, disco, a red-hot-mama-can-can-girls-Dixieland-jazz
center, Western stompin' at the Cheyenne Saloon and plenty of
dining. A host of entertainment spots have grown up around the
attraction and now line Church Street and Orange Avenue. Topping
the list are Ybors Martini Bar, the 70s-80s retro sounds of the
Leopard Lounge and the horseshoe-shaped bar at Megs Tavern.
For an intriguing International Drive diversion try Mercado Festive
World Marketplace, where Blazing Pianos, the nations only three-piano
rock 'n roll bar, plays to throngs of sing-along fans who warble
away the evening amid comedy, song and audience interaction as
talented pianists tickle the ivories. A Cricketers Arms Pub and
Eatery features 15 imported beers and four hand-drawn ales, and
is tucked into the cobblestoned streetscapes there, amid 75 shops
and restaurants. For fans of Irish beer: the Lucky Leprechaun
Irish Pub is just down the street on International Drive.
Theres still more to be found on International Drive: Pointe Orlando,
an entertainment complex featuring an IMAX 3-D theater, a 21-screen
movie complex, outdoor entertainment, and 70 shops including FAO
Schwartz, decked out with the unmistakable landmarks of its huge
concrete teddy bear and Barbies pink shoes.
Theme parks get in on the action It didn't take the major theme
parks long to figure out that the parks were way too quiet at
night. Voila!?hot-hot-hot evening entertainment diversions at
Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
WDW created Pleasure Island first, uniting waterside dining and
entertainment with a '70s disco, an '80s beach club, a '90s dance
club, a jazz and comedy club and mainstage live bands, capped
off each night of the year with a New Years Eve celebration complete
with a wild street party featuring dancers on the roof, lights
Next came Downtown Disney, where a cluster of restaurants?one
by famed chef Wolfgang Puck?and restaurant/clubs?including Bongos,
owned by singer Gloria Estefan?are joined by a host of shops,
including a Virgin Records megastore, a cigar shop, the boot-scootin'
Wildhorse Saloon dance club, a games center filled with virtual
reality machines and video challenges, plus lots of purveyors
of Disney memorabilia.
Unquestionably the entertainment crown of Downtown Disney is the
massive circular theater that houses Cirque du Soleil, a splendiferous
show that gives whole new meaning to the concept of circus. A
study in color, lighting and special effects, Cirque du Soleil
is imaginative, graceful, death-defying and awe-inspiring.
Those seeking entertaining but somewhat less frenetic fun can
find it at WDWs Boardwalk Entertainment Complex. Themed around
the boardwalks epitomized by 1930s entertainment centers along
the U.S. coastline, this "village" overlooking a lake houses the
Atlantic Dance Club and Jellyrolls, where dueling pianos tinkle.
Universal amusement Universals response to Disneys entertainment
center is CityWalk, which packs 'em in every night. Sprawling
across 30 acres, CityWalk is a movin', groovin' cluster of dining,
shops, cinemas and entertainment options ranging from the popular
Hard Rock Cafe'the worlds largest'to Bob Marleys reggae, from
Motown sounds to Latin rhythms and jazz. Famed chef Emeril Lagasses
dining spot whisks up a roux to create Creole cuisine straight
from the Louisiana bayous, and Pat O'Briens mixologists whip up
renowned Hurricane concoctions.
Margaritas and "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" pour from the bar and
kitchen at singer Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville and everybody gets
into the groove at a club called, well, The Groove. Salsa and
samba reign at the Latin Quarter, where dance is abetted by food
and entertainment from 21 Latin American nations. Racecar fans
revel in the Nascar Cafe and basketball fans flock to NBA City
to immerse themselves in National Basketball Association memorabilia.
Orlando truly seems to have something for everyone.