The Arabian Nights dinner show is an Orlando original (well, technically a Kissimmee original). In fact, this classic show has been entertaining Central Florida visitors since 1988. Growing up in Orlando, I have some fond memories of Arabian Nights. On trips in the family mini-van, I considered the horse sign that can be seen from I-4 to be a landmark of the attractions area. As I grew older, I remember the voice of the “Arabian Nights Genie” on the radio commercials. For lifelong Natives like me, Arabian Nights symbolizes classic Orlando.
I was recently invited to check out the brand new show at Arabian Nights. “Royal Celebration” is the perfect evolution of this attraction. When I received my invitation for the new show, I immediately became intrigued as to how the elements of the former storyline would weave into the all-new show.
Arabian Nights: Location & details
What most out-of-state visitors call the “Orlando area” is made up of different zones, each one offering its own collection of activities and attractions. Arabian Nights is located in Kissimmee, just off highway 192, near Walt Disney World and a few steps from Celebration. In terms of tourist destinations, the Kissimmee area is one of our first, and it almost has a retro feel. Kissimmee is part of Osceola County, which has a little bit more Southern and country culture than the neighboring Orange County. The schools in this district close down for Rodeo Day, for example. And it is with this atmosphere that Arabian Nights is a great fit.
The Arabian Nights Theater is about 10 minutes from Walt Disney World. Show times are nightly at 6pm or 8:30pm depending on the day of the week. You will want to arrive about an hour before showtime. There is usually a line at the ticket window to pick up or purchase your tickets. It is a good idea to purchase tickets in advance; during peak season the show will sell out. Usually with a quick search online you can find some discounts and deals.
Arabian Nights: VIP Experience offers the royal treatment
There is also an option to upgrade to the Arabian Nights VIP Experience. The first time I went to Arabian Nights, I remember waiting in the pre-show area watching the VIPs go into the theater an hour before showtime. I felt a ting of jealousy, but rationalized that “I am sure it is not that big of deal, the show will be enough.” Although the show is fantastic, this time around we did take part in the VIP Experience and I am here to tell you, it is so worth it!
With our VIP sticker proudly displayed on our chests, my husband, stepson, and I strutted past the rest of the waiting crowd and through the theater doors. As we turned the corner and entered the theater, we realized we were actually being lead onto the stage! My husband, who is hard to impress said, “wow, this is pretty cool!”
We were royally welcomed and led under the princess’ balcony and backstage to the stables. Two beautiful white horses waited to greet us, each with an attendant who allowed us to pet the beauty and get our picture if we wished.
We were divided into groups and led through the stables by a show performer who introduced us to each and every single horse in the show, teaching us about the horse’s breed, history, and role in the show. It was mesmerizing as we learned about each horse and got to know the performers better. We chose to weave in and out, exploring at our leisure. We joined up with one group, listened for a bit, then explored some more and joined up with another group.
Exploring at your leisure is perfectly fine. There is simply one major rule to follow: do not pet the horses inside the stable, only the horses that are out with a handler.
We loved every moment of our backstage VIP tour. Getting to know the horses and the performers better added such a personal touch and truly elevated our experience. Plus the many photo opportunities created precious memories for us. To top it off, the VIP Experience provides better, closer seating. Our seats were in the second row, and although there isn’t a bad view in the house, being closer to the action added to our enjoyment.
Arabian Nights: Dinner & drinks
Once seated, about half an hour before showtime, we looked over the limited menu; I will say this, you don’t usually go to a dinner show for the dinner. That being said, the servings are generous, the menu is kid friendly, and our server was very friendly and attentive.
Since it was a Friday night, I decided to enjoy some wine during the show. For an attraction, the prices for alcoholic beverages are reasonable. There are a variety of mixed drinks served in a souvenir cup for $15 or without the souvenir cup for $10. On certain nights there are specials on beer and wine, or you can pre-pay an extra $10 for the Basic Drink Package: unlimited Bud Light and California blush wine throughout the night. Keep in mind that gratuity is not included with your ticket, it is a good idea to bring cash, or after dessert, tell your server that you would like to place a tip on your credit card.
Arabian Nights: The show
The pinnacle of this experience is the show itself. THIS is why you come to Arabian Nights, to be astounded by the feats of the performers and horses, to be enchanted by the beauty of it all. Every culture around the world has a relationship with horses. Our ancestors depended on the strength of these magnificent creatures. The all-new show does a marvelous job of showcasing each culture’s style of horseback riding and tricks, as well as their music and costumes.
The lighting, costumes, and pageantry are beautiful. The music and soundtrack are new, with a few classics from the previous show weaved throughout.
There is certainly a target audience that Arabian Nights resonates with the most: anyone who loves horses and understands the hard work and trust it takes to train them; anyone who appreciates the bond between horse and rider; and families with young girls who dream of being a princess. If you fall into one of these groups, this show will touch you.
Between the VIP Experience and the “Royal Celebration” show itself, I ended the evening in sheer awe. The feats of the performers left the greatest impression on me. There are no loud pyrotechnics, no unnecessary special effects in this show, and that makes me very happy. In this modern world, and Orlando especially, we are bombarded with electronic stimuli. Let yourself appreciate the beauty of the performance and marvel at the relationship between man and horse.
An evening at Arabian Nights is an opportunity to slow down a little, enjoy time with your loved ones, and bask in the majesty before you.
Arabian Nights – map & links
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Official website: http://www.arabian-nights.com/
Arabian Nights on Facebook
Arabian Nights “Royal Celebration” – photo gallery
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And thanks to Arabian Night’s Facebook page for letting us use a few of their images.