A popular form of entertainment in Florida, particularly in the Orlando area is the themed dinner show where a meal is combined with a floor show. Nearly all the dinner shows are aimed squarely at families but a couple of more adult orientated shows have opened recently.
You can be entertained by everything from medieval knights jousting to murder mysteries, gangsters, tales of Arabian nights, swash-buckling pirates, musicals, song and dance, magic and comedy shows.
The major theme parks also offer dinner shows, such as Disney’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Both Disney and SeaWorld also have a Polynesian style Luau, Disney's Spirit of Aloha and SeaWorld's Makahiki Luau.
The largest shows take place in enormous arena style venues with seating for over 1,000 guests whilst many others are in more intimate theatre style venues with perhaps 100 or so guests. You can even enjoy a dinner show whilst riding in a vintage railroad car.
Dinner shows typically last between 90 minutes and two hours and you will often get a pre-show as well to get everyone in the mood for the main entertainment. Many dinners shows will offer two shows per night, one early evening and one late evening and during the summer months and around main holiday periods they may also run a matinee performance.
Dinner Show Prices
Expect to pay around $40 to $60 for adults and $20 to $35 for children for a three or four course meal with drinks. Children (if admitted) are usually free if under 3, sit on their parents lap and eat from their plates.
Look out for coupons in local tourist guides or internet offers as there is a lot of competition between the various dinner shows and you can often get discounts.
Shows often sell out so reservations are recommended and you can frequently get a discount if you buy in advance. Nearly all dinner shows seat on a first-come, first-served basis so it pays to arrive early. Remember to allow time for parking and check-in but most of the Florida dinner shows do have their own free onsite parking.
If you want to feel a little bit special or get front row seats then look out for VIP upgrades. For an additional fee (typically $15 to $20) you can get perks such as a private showcase, special guaranteed front row seating, souvenir photos and DVDs and guest interaction with some of the performers.
Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede
One of the popular dinner shows in Orlando was Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede which had a Southern theme but this closed January 2008 when they sold the site. It was expected the Dixie Stampede would re-open at another venue but to date this has not happened. Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede still operate shows in Tennessee, Missouri and South Carolina.
Another of the other large dinner shows in Orlando is Medieval Times and anyone who drives along Highway 192 cannot not fail to miss the large white castle next to WalMart. Medieval Times is set in 11th Century Spain and features six rival knights jousting on foot and on horseback.
The meal and show lasts around 2 hours but like a lot of themed dinner shows, there are also various attractions that you can view before or after the main show.
One novelty of Medieval Times is that as it is set in medieval Spain, you do not get any cutlery and have to eat your main course with your hands.
Medieval Times operate at 9 locations throughout North America.
If you enjoy horses you will like Arabian Nights.
Arabian Nights boasts one of the largest indoor equestrian arenas with seating for 1,200 guests and as it name suggests it is themed on the tales of Arabia with over 60 horses performing alongside riders and acrobats.
Typical Dinner Show Menus
Each dinner show has its own unique menu choice, some have a simple set menu, others will offer you a choice of main courses and there is usually a special children's menu as well. If you have any special dietary requirements then make enquiries when you book.
Most menus are based on American cuisine (often with a vegetarian or Kosher option) with drinks included. Depending upon the show, you may be offered unlimited non-alcoholic drinks or a set number of alcoholic drinks with the meal where additional drinks can be purchased separately. Most also have a fully licensed bar.
Character Meals (Breakfasts, Lunches & Dinners)
If you have young children, you could consider a character meal as an alternative to a dinner show. Bear in mind that if you go to one of the character meals located inside one of the theme parks, then you will need to buy theme park tickets as well.
Whilst there is no show, the whole buffet breakfast is themed, for example on a particular Disney movie with a range of Disney characters who come around and keep everyone, young and old, entertained throughout.