Orlando is a Florida city that isn't shy about lighting up at night. Everywhere you go, whether it's a Walt Disney World theme park or Downtown Orlando you can expect to see almost as much glowing neon as you would on the Las Vegas Strip. Is it all show or is there anything to do in Orlando at night?
You'll need more than the fingers on two hands to count all of the things there are to do in Orlando at night so get ready to have a good time. While the glamor and on-tap entertainment of the many theme parks, like Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort is hard to resist, you won't want to skip some of the smaller, more intimate venues where there are open mic nights, live music, and the odd bit of magic. If you just want a quiet evening there are a surplus of excellent restaurants and bars with serene lake views where you can wile away an hour or two under a star-studded Florida sky.
The one thing you won't want when you go out for the night is to be lumbered with your baggage. It's almost impossible to take a romantic stroll along the Universal Citywalk holding hands if you're carrying suitcases. You'll find Bounce luggage lockers in Orlando are the ideal solution to storing your bags for any length of time. Bounce luggage lockers are economical to hire and secure so you can forget all about your bags until you're ready to collect them.
Best Things To Do at Night in Orlando
There are some things to do in Orlando at night that are on everyone's agenda so you can find yourself spending more time queueing than enjoying yourself. By avoiding the main tourist traps you can still have a good time and if you do want to do what are some of the must-do's in Orlando, try to book a ticket in advance that will get you to the front of the line.
ICON Park on the city's International Drive is a huge entertainment complex where there are some fantastic things to do at night for both adults and families. From a 400 foot high Ferris wheel to a museum of illusions, virtual reality game arcades, a 7D cinema, and a mirror maze as well as quality restaurants where you can even get a box of Gordon Ramsey's fish and chips for your supper. The park offers free admission, but many of the ICON Orlando attractions will cost you, and it's the ideal spot to spend one of your precious Saturday nights.
Orlando EYE : The Orlando Eye, the massive Ferris wheel known as the ICON Orlando, in ICON Park is one of Orlando's biggest and most popular attractions and a must-do for many people.
The wheel isn't the same as a thrill ride in a theme park as it only spins at one mile per hour which is pretty sedate. A complete revolution takes a leisurely 20 minutes during which you'll have plenty of time to observe or take photos of Orlando's skyline.
Museum of Illusions: The Museum of Illusions in ICON Park is open until 9 PM. There are 50 mind-blowing exhibits at the museum that will leave you totally baffled. It's a great place to take the kids as the illusions will totally wow them, but be prepared for them to look larger than you on occasion.
ICON Park is also where the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando are located, but both of these are daytime-only activities as they close at 6 PM.
If there's one area of the city that you really should investigate in-depth it's Downtown Orlando. There's a surprising amount of things to do there at night that are either downright fun or outright sophisticated. If you prefer nighttime activities to daytime ones, this may be one of the best places to stay in Orlando for you for the Orlando nightlife.
Wall Street Plaza: Wall Street Plaza is where all the nightlife in Downtown Orlando is happening. The plaza consists of seven individual bars and restaurants that have joined together to create a trendy nighttime scene. It's a nighttime playground that attempts to rival Walt Disney World Resort
Mostly housed in renovated warehouses, you could find yourself drinking a pre-dinner cocktail in a tiki bar or on a Wall Street patio as the crowds flock by. There's a carnival-themed bar and a steampunk-themed bar plus a couple of more intimate venues if you want a romantic rendezvous.
Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts: The Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts on South Magnolia Avenue in Downtown Orlando is a theater and events complex where you can watch Broadway shows and top international artists. Many of the performances at the center are for one night only or have short runs of around a week. You can check what's on in advance for the dates you're visiting on the show calendar on the official website.
Lake Eola Park: One of the best places to catch an outdoor concert or performance is in Lake Eola Park. If there's something on at the Walt Disney Amphitheater you can forget taking a quiet evening stroll around Lake Eola to admire the shoreline sculptures as all shows are broadcast over park-wide speakers. The bonus to that, though, is you can take a spot on the grass away from the crowds and still listen in. The fountain at the center of the lake is a big evening attraction too as there are nightly color and water dance spectaculars that make great photographic subjects.
Friday night is movie night at Lake Eola Park. The free outdoor event called Movieola starts around 7 PM and usually features family-oriented films, like the ones featured at Walt Disney World.
SAK Comedy Lab: The SAK Comedy Lab on South Orange Avenue in Downtown Orlando is one of the city's best comedy clubs. This lively venue hosts nightly shows of improvised comedy. The fun thing here is that the show is constructed around suggestions from the audience so you never know what is going to happen next.
The theater seats two-hundred and fifty, but the shows are seriously popular so make sure to book your ticket well in advance of visiting Orlando.
Downtown Orlando Ghost Tour: There are more spirits in Downtown Orlando than those in bottles behind the district's bars. For laughs and chills, take a two-hour ghost tour of Downtown Orlando at night to see if you can manage to come across one of the infamous paranormal inhabitants.
The ghost tours set off from Buffalo Street at about 8 PM. A guide tells you all about the history of the locations and buildings you go to and about the reputed spirits that haunt them. To up the odds of encountering something, you're given paranormal investigation equipment to use during the tour.
While it's not in Downtown Orlando, just five minutes drive away, you can also take a very spooky moonlight walking tour of the historic Greenwood Cemetery. It's not a tour for the fainthearted as once the sun goes down you'll be traipsing four miles through the graves and then go down into the catacombs. This is a spooky way to experience Orlando at night.
Other Great Things To Do In Orlando At Night
You can easily spend all night at Disney Springs on Buena Vista Drive in Walt Disney World and not be bored for a moment because there are so many fun things to do there. Start the evening by browsing around some of the 100 plus stores located in the Disney Springs entertainment district, watch a live performance on the Advent Waterside Stage, or a movie at the AMC Theater.
For more live music there's the House of Blues Music Hall, the Edison Live Entertainment bar, and STK Orlando plus many more. If you've resisted eating in any of the previous venues, head for the Marketplace where there are food trucks and pop-ups serving some of the best street food in Orlando.
Harry P Leu Gardens
While visiting a garden at night might not seem overly exciting, go to the Harry P Leu Gardens on North Forest Avenue when they're holding one of their movie nights and you'll have an experience to remember.
The Leu Gardens hosts outdoor movie nights on Fridays from the beginning of April until the fall. They don't show the latest blockbusters, but more family-oriented films suitable for all ages. There's no food or drink provided on-site for the showings which commence at 8:30 PM, although you can take your own to munch on while you watch.
Universal City Walk
Much the same as Disney Springs, the Universal City Walk is an entertainment district geared to keep you there all night. Open from early morning until midnight there are more shops than you can visit in an evening, scores of restaurants including a Hard Rock Cafe built to look like the colosseum, and plazas with live entertainment.
Helicopter Night Tour
One way to see the magic of Orlando at night in all its glory is to take a night helicopter tour over the city and theme parks. It's not the cheapest of activities or the lengthiest, but one that will leave a truly memorable mark.
Most helicopter tour operators work from outside of the city in places like Kissimmee. Flights usually last for a duration of 15-20 minutes depending on the operator. Choose your flight time wisely and you'll get to see the Florida sunset and all the big firework displays from a bird's eye view.
There are so many theme parks in Orlando that you couldn't possibly go to them all, but you will undoubtedly visit one or two while you're there. Which one you choose depends on your personal likes and dislikes and whether or not you have to make your kid’s dreams come true.
Magic Kingdom: The Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort is where you'll be able to get a photo in front of the iconic Disney domed castle. There are fun things like thrill rides for adults, as well as smaller versions for young children. Most rides for adults, including Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, operate until 10 PM so it's a great fairground atmosphere to be in after it’s dark. You'll get to see the spectacular Disney fireworks at the end of the evening too.
Universal Studios: If you're planning on visiting Universal Orlando, it may well have to be a late afternoon visit as this theme park only stays open until late three nights of the week.
All the attractions at this theme park are film-related so you'll come across creatures from Harry Potter and even the Minions. You can also take a ride on the Hogwarts Express or try your hand at blasting aliens Men in Black-style.
After reading through this article you'll probably have realized there's as much going on in Orlando at night as there is during the day. Whether you spend your evenings at any of the Disney theme parks, hit the buzzing nightlife of the Wall Street Plaza, or take a ghostly walking tour of Downtown Orlando, they'll be nights you always remember as being some of the most exciting of your life.
Even if you don't stay at one of the theme park hotels, like the cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, when you visit Orlando you can rest assured that you'll have a good time. This Florida city is geared to doing one thing and one thing only and that's making all of its visitors, no matter how big or small, happy.