Get Set For Some Magic – Basketball Magic!

Orlando , Expert View Column
Get Set For Some Magic – Basketball Magic!
By ATD’s Florida experts Susan & Simon Veness
When it comes to the variety of excitement Orlando has to offer, it doesn’t end with the theme parks and other attractions. Oh no. For those looking for a genuine taste of America, let us introduce you to some Magic of a different kind – with a basketball.
Sports in general are an American fan speciality, and when it comes to the NBA, or National Basketball Association, they really know how to put on a show. More importantly, the 2016-17 season is just about to get under way.
 
There are 30 NBA teams sprinkled throughout the USA, and Orlando has had its own team since 1989, but going to the “ball game” in America is as much about razzamatazz as it is about the game itself.
 
 
Amway Center
 
 
You don’t just go to a game, it is an Event, and there is as much style and energy in the stands as on the field of play. This is especially true of basketball, which has a lively, enthusiastic vibe that positively invites the party crowd to come on down and make themselves heard.
 
Even better, the experience is about as fan- and family-friendly as they can make it, meaning you can happily take the kids and have a memorable night out. 
 
That’s especially true of the Magic, who play all their home games in the splendid confines of the Amway Center in downtown Orlando (with its own multi-storey parking garage that is easy to find right off main motorway, I-4).
 
 
Amway Center Orlando Magic
 
 
The Amway officially opened on October 1, 2010, and remains one of the most state-of-the-art venues in America. It holds 18,846 fans for most game-days (it just sounds like a lot more!), and tickets are often at a premium (hence it’s usually best to buy them in advance from ATD on this link, or this one if you want tickets plus transport).
 
If you’re heading there yourself, the official address is 400 West Church Street, Orlando, Florida, 32801, and you need Exit 82B (South Street) off I-4. Turn left on to South Street, and the parking garage is on the left after you pass back under the motorway.
 
Church Street, which borders the venue, is closed off for game days and becomes Party Central, with DJs and other fan activity building up the excitement as fans arrive, so make sure you are at least an hour early to soak up the atmosphere.
 
 
Amway Center big bowl
 
 
Then you get to walk into the Amway, and it’s an impressive sight. The building is crowned by a 180ft tower and the interior encompasses a whopping 875,000 square feet. Take the escaltors up to the main plaza level and you have a dazzling array of food and beverage stands around the concourse, plus plenty of souvenir kiosks, as well as the ground-floor Team Shop to ensure you’re wearing the right (white-and-blue) colours.
 
There are numerous places to enjoy a pre-game drink, or even a full meal, with the highlight possibly being the elegant One80 Grey Goose Lounge, a superb 10th-floor outdoor bar-lounge that provides fabulous views over the city – as well as some killer cocktails!
 
Once you head for your seat, you’ll soon discover the Amway is one of the most technologically advanced sporting venues in the world, highlighted by the massive four-sided main scoreboard that hangs over the court.
 
 
Amway center
 
 
At 42ft high by 60ft wide, it is the tallest of any NBA team, with high-resolution, 6mm-pixel technology on each of the 18 displays, including two digital ring displays and four tapered corners. Oh, and there are another 1,100 TV monitors throughout the Center, so you won’t miss a minute of the action – even when you go to the loo!
 
Just as importantly, every level of ticket provides access to the Budweiser Baseline Bar and food court; ‘Ronas & ‘Ritas (another open-air lounge-bar), and Jernigan’s Restaurant (with a great view of the interior), as well as several other fan features, including the Nutrilite Magic Fan Experience and Orlando Info Garden, and the kids play area, Stuff’s Magic Castle.
 
We should point out at this stage that Orlando’s mascot is Stuff (the Magic dragon), and he makes the rounds of the stadium during games to meet fans whenever he can, and he especially loves kids. So, if you happen to bump into a seven-foot-tall green furry dragon, that’s Stuff.
 
 
Stuffs Magic Castle
 
 
Eventually, the game will start, and that’s the cue for plenty of audience participation, with the game commentator providing lots of insight, and the video screen coming in to play in breaks between the action. Beware the Kiss Cam – you may suddenly become the stars of the show!
 
There will be plenty of breaks, by the way, with music, cheerleaders, T-shirt cannons and more, all adding to the fun, raucous atmosphere. And, because of the Amway’s excellent design, you won’t ever have to go far in search of a drink or snack (or the loos, come to that).
 
If that’s how the stadium itself works, you might also want to know about the team.
 
The Magic play in the South-East Division of the Atlantic Conference, with their closest rivals Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. They have been a team in flux for the last few years, but are slowly but surely forcing their way back into national recognition and have a new head coach in 2016, Frank Vogel.
 
 
Amway center
 
 
Their main stars are the twin towers of the 6ft 10in Serge Ibaka and 6ft 9in Bismack Biyombo, as well as slam-dunk expert Aaron Gordon. There is plenty of European influence, though, with French ace Evan Fournier, Croatian Mario Hezonja and man-mountain Nikola Vucevic from Montenegro, who stands at a massive 7ft tall, as well as Ibaka, who is Congolese-Spanish.
 
In many ways, it’s one of the most cosmopolitan and United Nations-like teams in the league, and it goes without saying they are hugely popular in town. They do a lot of great charity work among the community and just need to string a few wins together early in the season to rev things up in O-Town.
 
Still need convincing? Check out the team in action...
 
 

That season starts next Wednesday (October 26), at home to Miami, and there are another nine home games in November and eight in December. The regular season runs through to April 12, so there’s plenty of chance to see the Magic in action, and we’re sure you won’t regret it if you do.
 
And, if they reach the play-offs for the first time since 2012, you may well hear us cheering from here!
 
If you have questions about the Orlando Magic or anything else about Florida, be sure to go online and ask Susan and Simon on the ATD forums, on this link.
 
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Orlando , Expert View Column