From Universal Orlando’s legendary CityWalk celebration to the excitement and magic in Disney’s theme parks, there is no shortage of memorable ways to ring in the New Year here in Orlando. But don’t think the theme parks are the only happenin’ hot spots when midnight rolls around on December 31 — there’s so much more waiting for you outside the park gates!
As a lifelong local, allow me to share with you my best recommendations for getting out of the theme parks and experiencing something new on the biggest party night of the year:
Enzian Theater’s New Year’s Eve “James Bond” Party
This is by far Orlando’s most unique New Year’s Eve party. If you are a fan of the massive James Bond franchise, dreamed of being a Bond girl, or just love films of all kinds then this is the event for you. You’ll start off the evening with an outdoor party. If you purchase a VIP package, you will head into the unique indoor theater to watch “You Only Live Twice” for a classic James Bond movie viewing amid a very classy atmosphere. Then the evening kicks into high gear with a DJ dance party and James Bond, Bond girl, and villain costume contest. Cap off the evening as midnight rings with a champagne toast and balloon drop.
- 1300 South Orlando Avenue, Maitland
- General admission: $25 at the door, $20 in advance; VIP Packages available
- 7:30pm – 2:00am
Sure, we all have seen the beautiful ball drop in NYC’s Times Square, but did you know that Orlando has its own ball drop? New Year’s Eve revelers gather on downtown’s Church Street to watch the Orlando Orange Ball drop at the stroke of midnight. This is a classic Orlando tradition and something every fan of our city should experience at least once. The streets become host to a massive block party, and the five nightclubs and bars along Church Street are included with admission. (Given the popularity of this event, please note that this may be the one celebration on this list that is just as crowded as the theme parks.)
- 33 W Church St., Orlando (downtown)
- $39 – $99 – depending on level of package
- 8:00pm – 2:00am
Wall Street Block Party
Just around the corner from the famous Church Street Block Party is the equally famous Wall Street Block Party. Get ready for a massive outdoor festival with eight venues included! Wall Street is one of downtown Orlando’s best nighttime venues, and this party is a hit year after year. Be prepared to ring in 2014 with lots and lots of other people. You are sure to have a blast!
- 26 Wall St., Orlando (downtown)
- $20 General Admission – $100 VIP Package
- 8:00pm – 2:00am
St. Johns Rivership Company
Sail aboard one of the most beautiful and enchanting waterways of Central Florida. If you want to get away from the crowds and experience real Florida, this is a fantastic choice. Located in one of my favorite areas, your cruise embarks from downtown Sanford, a true historical gem. Plus, there’s two cruise times to choose from, so if you want to have an early evening, you have the option to celebrate in style while still having time left over in the evening. If you want to experience old Florida charm, I highly recommend sailing aboard the Barbara Lee with St. Johns Rivership Company.
- 433 N. Palmetto Avenue, Sanford
- 3:30 – 7:30pm $60.19 or 8:30pm – 1:00am $64.50
Howl at the Moon
Gather your friends together and get ready to sing and dance the night away. Famous for their dynamic dueling pianos, you are sure to make fantastic memories at Howl at the Moon while singing along to classic songs and the hits of 2013. Howl at the Moon is a popular hangout of the hospitality industry, so you will rub elbows with lots of friendly folks ready to shake away the stress of Orlando’s busiest week for theme park crowds. Parking can be a little dodgy here so try to arrive earlier rather than later (or better yet, take a cab!).
- 8815 International Drive, Orlando
- $25 General Admission (standing room) 9:00pm – 1:0am
- VIP Packages with seating $70 – $130 must arrive between 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Make it a night you will never forget in an ultra-cool environment. Chill out at 27 degrees Fahrenheit among spectacular ice sculptures and warm up at the Fire Lounge. As an intimate venue, this is a great choice for those that wish to have a more upscale evening. There are only 300 total spots available to this exclusive event, so be sure to book right away. Both packages include an open bar from 9:00pm -11:00pm, a souvenir photo, and a champagne toast. The upgraded package enables you to experience the champagne toast inside the ICE Bar itself, whereas the regular package takes place in the Fire Lounge area.
- 8967 International Drive, Orlando
- Packages $80 & $125 – very limited availability for both packages (there is no general admission option)
- 9:00pm – 1:00am
Get bowled over by one of Orlando’s newest entertainment venues! Here you’ll find a great family-friendly option until 8:00pm. Then the evening becomes more adult oriented. What better way to ring in the New Year than with a perfect strike! All packages include bowling for two hours, while food and beverages vary with the package you select. Plus there will be a live DJ, dancing, and more.
- 8255 International Drive, Orlando
- Family packages, $30 for kids / $35 adults offered until 8pm
- Adults packages until closing, $250 without dinner, $300 with dinner (high pricing for groups of 9 -16)
Don’t just celebrate the new year — celebrate the centuries at Medieval Times New Year’s Eve event. Admission includes their traditional two-hour live tournament and four-course medieval feast along with party features for the big night: a DJ, dancing, and a midnight countdown with a champagne toast and balloon drop. Finally, what’s a king and queen to do when the new year starts at 12:01am? Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast!
- 4510 W. Vine Street, Kissimmee
- Adults $69.95, children 17 and under $35.95
- 9:30pm – 1:00am
180 Grey Goose Lounge
Located at the top level of the Amway Center, you will rise above the rest and celebrate all night in one of Orlando’s most beautiful nightlife venues. Gaze upon the Orlando skyline and possibly catch a glimpse of the Orange Ball drop and block party of Church Street. This is definitely the place to see and be seen — a night of sophisticated celebration. Although this is one of the most expensive New Year’s Eve celebrations, you are sure to have the night of your life dancing under the stars and taking in panoramic views.
- 400 W. Church Street, Orlando (downtown)
- $80 Regular Admission (includes self-parking) or $120 Diamond Package (includes Valet Parking and limited open bar)
- VIP Packages range from $1,200 – $2,000
Whichever celebration you choose, it’s sure to be a memorable one. There are few places in the world besides Orlando that can offer such a variety of celebrations and New Year’s Eve excitement.
And of course, if I missed a great event that you know about, please be sure to leave a comment!
Editor’s note: If you’re curious about what Universal Orlando is doing for New Year’s Eve, we have complete information on our NYE 2013 page in the OI Universal Center.
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