The Florida sun is hot, but the Central Florida nightlife is even hotter. You can dine and dance the night away at Universal City Walk and Downtown Disney's Pleasure Island. City Walk boasts the world's largest Hard Rock Cafe while a single ticket to Pleasure Island gives you access to seven clubs. Both venues have clubs offering different styles of music.
Downtown Orlando has a wide range of bars, clubs, and discos, while the clubs on International Drive stay open until the late hours. Most clubs have a cover charge, and most stay open until 1 or 2 am. At that time of the night, the police in downtown Orlando are not generally sympathetic to noisy or rowdy behavior.
There are 465 movie screens in theaters throughout Greater Orlando, including the 24 screens at Downtown Disney's West Side or the 18-screen AMC Theater (433 E Altamonte Drive) in Altamonte Springs.
Maitland's Enzian Theater (1300 S Orlando Ave) is Central Florida's only alternative cinema, hosting six annual film festivals and screenings for independent and cult classic films.
Numerous dinner shows are available with unique entertainment. At Orlando's Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows (8267 International Drive), you can use your investigative skills to solve a murder while enjoying a quality meal. At Kissimmee's Arabian Nights Dinner Theater (6225 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway), you can watch spectacular horsemanship in the world's largest indoor equestrian arena.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Nightlife & Entertainment in Orlando
Downtown Disney is also home of Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, which is part circus, part theater, and simply sensational. The eclectic 90-minute show, which includes clowns, trapeze artists, cyclists, and aerial ballerinas, will leave you breathless, and the memories will stay with you forever. It's simply fantastic, and you cannot afford to miss out.
The hottest new nightclub is the Red Coconut Club (at Universal CityWalk, 200 Universal Studios Plaza). The club features a house band that plays any music from Frank Sinatra to John Mellencamp, and also alternates its entertainment schedule with live guest groups and DJs. Music is played daily from 6 pm to 2 am. The club is also noted for its signature martinis.
The most eccentric club is Orlando's Parliament House (410 N Orange Blossom Trail), where pretty much anything goes. It has six bars, and between dancing to the latest hits, you can take in the female impersonator review, go country in the Western bar, or sing-along in the piano bar.
For a night of laughs and improv, you should spend an evening at the Sak Comedy Lab (398 W Amelia St) in downtown Orlando. The Lab is a 200-seat improv comedy theater that performs nightly Tuesday through Saturday. It stages a number of stand-up acts and shows, including the Duel of Fools, in which comics compete and the audience picks the winner.
For a girl's night out, go to Mako's (27 W Church St). It's one of the hottest nightclubs in town with some of the best DJs around. It doesn't really liven up until after 11:30 pm, but always expect it to be crowded.
For the best martinis in Orlando, pop in to Ybor's (41 Church St). Dim lights and an opulent setting make this nightclub a great place to hang out, sip martinis or a vintage scotch, or enjoy a fine cigar. Martinis and other drinks are cheaper between 5 pm and 7 pm, and the place is best avoided on weekends when it gets packed. For a taste-bud treat, try the club's super-sized Platinum Martini.
At last count, there were about 90 nightspots in the Greater Orlando area offering every kind of music and catering to every taste. The Calendar in Friday's Orlando Sentinel newspaper has information about all the latest acts and show times.
Although Orlando is mostly known for theme parks that have wild, over-the-top attractions, there also are plenty of more tranquil things to do. In the next section, we'll tell you how to relax and unwind while visiting Orlando.