|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
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
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 and fireworks.
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' dance club, a games
center filled with virtual reality machines aWildhorse Saloonnd 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
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.