By Susan and Simon Veness
Here’s to a Happy New Year, readers! No doubt you are already beginning to ponder your travels for the coming year – how about a New Year celebration in the theme park capital? There are plenty of opportunities to ring in the New Year on a high note. So find out how Orlando brought in 2014 and if you fancy it, start planning your own Orlando New Year’s experience now!
Family Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebrations:
Walt Disney World hosts several family-friendly events around the parks. Be aware Magic Kingdom and Epcot often reach capacity early and will not allow any more guests to enter, even with a dining reservation. Walt Disney World resort guests are guaranteed to get into a park when others close to capacity, but it will be a park that is not yet full. Here’s what Disney had in store for New Year’s Eve:
-Magic Kingdom is New Year’s Eve Central, if crowds are anything to go by, in part for the fantastic Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks show. Guests marveled at the Holiday Wishes nighttime fireworks show, which kicked off at 8:30pm, and then, at 11:50pm, Fantasy in the Sky began with a sky-high countdown to midnight before the main show, which literally made guests feel as though they were surrounded by fireworks. Even from a distance this show is jaw-dropping. Magic Kingdom typically closes to capacity by 10am (or sooner) so plan to arrive early and stay all day.
- The World Showcase pavilions of America, United Kingdom, China, Italy, and Mexico in Epcot enjoyed live bands and DJs throughout the day, and a special showing of the nighttime IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth culminates in a breathtaking New Year’s Countdown Fireworks. All are included with park admission.
-Disney’s Hollywood Studios also hosted a New Year’s Eve Celebration, featuring the popular rock band Mulch, Sweat, and Shears. Then, at midnight, the skies lit up with a magnificent fireworks show designed especially for the Studios.
As you would expect, Universal Orlando celebrated in spectacular style, too. While the main event—Eve at CityWalk—is adults only, families were certainly not forgotten. These locations are guaranteed to keep all ages amused and started 2014 on a happy, wholesome note:
-Check out the Party at the Piazza at Universal Orlando’s Loew’s Portofino Bay Resort. The whole family can enjoy this kid-friendly outdoor party, with dinner, entertainment, and kid’s activities. $135 per adult, $35 ages 3-9.
-The Islands Dining Room at Universal Orlando’s Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort adds an elegant touch to their buffet, and provides face painting for the kids, plus a DJ, balloon artist, balloon drop, and party favors. $75 adults, $35 ages 3-9.
-The Kitchen at Universal Orlando’s Hard Rock Hotel combines an elegant dinner with an after-dinner Lobby Party, with a DJ, balloon artist, face painting, movies in the ballroom, and more. Dinner and party are $95 adults, $35 children age 3-9, or $35 adults/$20 children 3-9 for the Lobby Party only.
SeaWorld held a more low-key New Year’s Eve celebration, but it’s no less magical, especially for those who prefer not to battle the massive crowds. A musical celebration and a fabulous fireworks show are included in your park admission.
Busch Gardens Tampa added a massive midnight fireworks show to their line-up, along with DJs throughout the park. Included with park admission.
Taverna Opa at Pointe Orlando, International Drive, brought in the New Year in 1920’s style at the Greek Gatsby New Year’s Celebration. Entertainment included an aerialist, contortionist, and tap dancer. 4-course dinner was served, with a champagne toast at midnight, and groups of 4 or more had the option to add a bottle of vodka to their package. $100 per person, $125 with vodka. Pre-paid non-refundable reservations required.
Grown-up New Year’s Eve Parties - for Adults (21 and over) Only:
Eve at Universal CityWalk is one of the hottest parties in town. The event included six ‘party stations’, live entertainment, a massive dance floor, signature drinks, admission to the Citywalk venues, pyrotechnics, and a midnight toast. Strictly 21 and up only, $119.
Howl at the Moon dueling piano bar on International Drive. Guests danced, drank, and howled in the New Year. A dinner buffet was provided by Maggiano’s Italian restaurant and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight and party favors were included. See www.howlatthemoon.com/nyeorl for package prices.
Chillers, Big Belly, Latitudes and Don Jefe’s restaurant brought in 2014 with New Year’s Eve Party on Church Street in Downtown Orlando, with a big street party including fireworks and the “world famous orange drop”. $39 for entry-only, drinks packages available. www.ChurchStreetBars.com
New Year's Dining with a New Year’s Eve overlay:
Monsieur Paul at the France pavilion in Walt Disney World’s Epcot park hosted a special 3-course dinner from 12pm-6:30pm, including a choice of three select appetizers, three select entrées, and dessert. $75 per person.
Family-friendly Columbia Restaurant in downtown Celebration offered a 5-course prix fixe dinner menu with entrameses (small hors d’oeuvres), choice of tapas, Columbia’s 1905 Salad, choice of entrée, and choice of dessert. $59.95 per person.
The Rosen Center Hotel hosted “Relax, Renew, and Ring in 2014”, with a luxurious dinner including appetizer, salad, choice of two select entrées, dessert cart, and one bottle of wine or champagne per couple, or 2 glasses per person. $61.95 per person.
The upscale Ocean Prime restaurant on Sand Lake Road in the Dr. Phillips area added filet mignon and lobster to their a la carte menu to make the evening extra special.
Fleming’s Steakhouse in the Dellagio Plaza at Dr. Phillips offered a 3-course prix fixe menu. $69.95 per person.
The elegant Venetian Room at Caribe Royale Resort on World Center Drive added specialty items to their a la carte menu, and held some after-dinner dancing and entertainment in the ballroom. A free glass of wine or sparkling wine for parties of 8 or more. Reservations necessary. Call 407-238-8060
However you spend your New Year’s Eve, in Orlando or at home, we wish you a happy and healthy 2014. Thank you for being a part of our extended Attraction Tickets Direct family, and we look forward to bringing you another year of all the fun, excitement, and magic that comes with a holiday in our favourite destination.
If you're dealing with your Christmas blues by planning your travels for 2014, check out the Attraction Tickets Direct range of 2014 theme park tickets. If a New Year's in Orlando sounds tempting, then start planning now and spread the cost of your Orlando attraction tickets throughout the year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!