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Night Owls Need Not Apply: Orlando Entertainment for Early Birds



So you’re looking for something to do in Orlando. Maybe you’re in town with a group from work or visiting with young children. Or maybe you’re just not one for partying into the wee hours…. Well, you’ve come to the right place, because in the City Beautiful options for early entertainment abound. Over at the Walt Disney World resort sits the only resident Cirque du Soleil show on the east coast: La Nouba. Its performers are unparalleled – acrobats and cyclists and clowns and more – and a delight for all ages. Universal Orlando Resort is home to the quirky Blue Man Group; their high-energy show is a sure crowd-pleaser (and sometimes decorator for those who sit closest to the stage). Those with a penchant for performance art and dance won’t be disappointed. DRIP's unique brand of show brings the entertainment front and center and everywhere else, for that matter. And for those of you looking to enjoy a bit of good food and wine and quiet conversation to the strains of live music, options like Vines Grille & Wine Bar and downtown’s sleek Bosendorfer Lounge should fit the bill quite nicely.


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No, "Game of Thrones" fans, winter is not coming. This is Orlando, after all. Even so, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament will certainly help you get into the spirit of an age of bravery, honor and epic battles with zero fear of contracting the plague. Witness the spectacle of the joust, marvel at the superb horsemanship and epic falconry and – just as fun and adventurous – tear into your four-course meal (roasted chicken, ribs and beer in part) sans silverware. This is the sort of place parents take their kids only to realize that the grown-ups find it just as exciting as they cheer boldly for their representative knight amid the splendor of the Kissimmee Castle. An eight-cottage medieval village adds to the attraction's authenticity.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: It's wholesome, it's fun, it's family-oriented. And shows run as early as 6 p.m.

A.D.'s expert tip: Florida resident specials are often offered. Check the website for details.

Read more about Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament →




Saddle up, partner and get ready to experience the family-friendly fun of one of the longest-running dinner shows in the city. Set in a rustic dance hall, the theater's home-style menu features a wide range of traditional American favorites, including everything from BBQ ribs, seasonal vegetables and fried chicken to corn on the cob, baked beans and strawberry shortcake. The dinner price also covers unlimited drinks, including soft drinks and alcoholic beverages such as draft beer, wine and sangria. The hoedown usually lasts about two hours, and reservations as well as pre-payment is required. Casual attire is suggested.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: With two seatings, 4 and 6:15 p.m., Hoop-Dee-Doo satisfies your hunger for both wholesome entertainment and hearty barbecue. Fun whether you're 4 or 104.

A.D.'s expert tip: Come on the early side to ensure a smooth check-in.

Read more about Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue →


Hamburger Mary's Orlando
Photo courtesy of A.D. Thompson


Eat, drink and "be Mary," they say – and at Hamburger Mary's regular Sunday Broadway Brunch, this mantra comes between show tunes. Reservations are recommended and seating begins at 11:00 am for a noon show that brings with it regulars the Minx and Ginger Minj – along with several other talented lovelies as special guests (bring dollar bills for tips, y'all). Mary's menu may be well known for its decadent burgers; it is no less so at brunch. Omelets, pancakes, biscuits, burritos and more populate the roster, along with drink specials to get you singing right along, of course. And if you're not in the mood for a show – or just feel like sleeping in – no worries. Brunch is served until 3:00 p.m.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Drinks, drag, and divine Broadway hits. All of which you can enjoy before noon. Now that's (early) entertainment!

A.D.'s expert tip: Come early to allow for time to park. Mary's has no lot.

Read more about Hamburger Mary's Orlando →


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This unique Orlando show is a performance art amalgam, combining color and dance, live music and texture, all of which its cast will be sharing with you, so be prepared to get a little messy. Raining paint and flying water, foam, powder and colored sand make things extra-sensory as it falls from above on lithe, sexy dancers. This is a 21-and-over venue – the performance space is set inside an industrial-style dive bar – so feel free to come a little early and then stay on for a few drinks after the show. Doors open roughly just after 8 and the performance starts a little after 9:00 p.m. Weekend nights only.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Flashy, sexy, avant garde? Yes! But DRIP need not be a late-night affair. The actual performance will be over by 10 p.m.

A.D.'s expert tip: It's standing room only - no seats. Dress comfortably and in something you won't mind getting painty.

Read more about DRIP →




Top-shelf live jazz and blues – nightly – set the tone for the Vines Grille & Wine Bar experience, creating atmosphere that speaks to romance, relaxation, sophistication and, if you take advantage of the stellar wine selection a modicum of inebriation. Live music starts every night at seven, marking the end of happy hour and the beginning of the dinner hour (Vines is also an upscale dining venue and wine shop). Let staffers steer you toward the perfect drink selection. Music plays in the bar, but an open layout lets everyone enjoy the vibe, whether the band is playing hot or cool.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Vines swings with live jazz, blues and Sinatra-era swing beginning at 7 p.m.

A.D.'s expert tip: Take note, Vines' menu is pricey. Be prepared if you come to eat.

Read more about Vines Grille and Wine Bar →




Phase One of this glitering new downtown performing arts center made landfall in late 2014 with two beautiful theaters encompassing roughly 3,000 seats. The Barton Myers-designed Dr. Phillips Center is set to become an architectural icon amid Orlando's expanding skyline and a hub of Broadway and ballet, symphonies and music education, cultural events, special events, weddings and more. Guests enjoy top-quality concessions (many of which are locally procured) the spoils of several bars and a plethora of beautiful city views if you can take your eyes off the center itself.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Many of the shows appearing here offer matinees or earlier curtain times. Check the website, options abound!

A.D.'s expert tip: Early AND Free! Curiosity tours of the facility are offered on Saturday mornings and last 45 minutes. Sign up online and check the place out!

Read more about Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts →




It's theater. It's music. It's performance art. It's technology. It's Blue Man Group. And its mind-blowing creativity – virtually guaranteed to light a fire under your own – is showcased nightly at Universal Orlando Resort. Blue Man Group's multimedia theatrics, inventive comedy, original live music and audience interaction create a high-energy, party atmosphere. With loads of early shows – there's a 6 p.m. slot most nights, an 8 p.m. for some others – the one hour, 45-minute performance flies by, which means you can have an early night or plenty of time to party afterwards. Your choice. Bonus: the relatively intimate venue makes every seat in the house a good one. If you feel like getting a little messy, sit up front in the "poncho" section where the colors fly!

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: It may be wild and colorful, but Blue Man Group's creative endeavors don't necessitate late nights. Come for the 6 p.m. show!

A.D.'s expert tip: Hang onto your ticket stub and enjoy free admission at select CityWalk venues after the show.

Read more about Blue Man Group →


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Disney Springs ®


With live music on two different stages and Irish dancers every night of the week, Raglan Road really packs in the entertainment. And there's plenty of good food and cold drink with which to enjoy it. Monday through Sunday you can stomp, clomp and kick up your heels (or, you know, just watch) with Raglan's talented dance troup from 5 -10 p.m. Performances run every hour on the hour. On Sundays, the Rollicking Raglan Brunch Irish Dance Show fills in the morning/midday slot (noon to 4 p.m.) and the Celtic revelry continues through to 10. A number of bands grace the main and patio stages – the latter is a lovely place for an al fresco pint – between 7:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. For brunch, the music starts up at noon.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Few things pair better with a pint than a foot-stomping reel or a folky old favorite. Raglan Road understands this and delivers nightly.

A.D.'s expert tip: For music of the culinary variety, might we suggest Ger's Bread & Butter Pudding? It's entirely sinful.

Read more about Raglan Road Irish Pub →


Cirque du Soleil has nine resident shows in the United States. Seven are in Las Vegas. One is in Los Angeles. And La Nouba is here in Orlando. We know we're pretty lucky and we're happy to share it with you and your entire family. Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba is truly an all-ages spectacle, with color and movement for the youngest audience member and near-miss, nail-biting action for all manner of adults and adrenaline junkies. Clowns amuse, music and costumes mesmerize and the depth of talent – showcasing astounding feats from trampoline acrobatics to BMX bike skills – is sure to leave you breathless at one time or another.

Read more about Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba →




It's a sleek, stylish hotel haunt – the sort you'd imagine fabulous characters from classic novels or films to inhabit. And whether it's the soothing tinkle of the piano for which it is named (a gorgeous instrument, one of only a handful in the world) or the strains of Latin or acid jazz serving as the aural accompaniment to your wine or cocktail, it's certainly one of the toniest bars in downtown to catch some live music. Friday and Saturday nights, from roughly 7:30 p.m. to midnight, give or take, you can do just that. Make it a pre- or post-dinner event, whether you're dining in the Grand Bohemian or not.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: If Michelle Pfeiffer needed a piano on which to croon and vamp in a slinky red dress, the smart money says she'd pick the Bosendorfer.

A.D.'s expert tip: The music continues on Sunday mornings, as well. Pop in for the jazz brunch and see why its among Orlando's most lauded.

Read more about Bosendorfer Lounge →


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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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