Pirates Dinner Adventure: Swashbuckling Excitement for the Entire Family in Orlando, FL

Lisa Fritscher March 22, 2015 No Comments

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Swashbuckling Excitement

Pirates is packed with swashbuckling excitement.

Orlando, Florida, is home to a dizzying array of dinner shows. Whether you want to solve a murder mystery, join singing and dancing gangsters at a speakeasy, or take in a Hawaiian luau, the area offers something for everyone. A friend and I have birthdays three days apart, and are both big fans of everything pirate-related, so we decided to take in Pirates Dinner Adventure.

About Pirates Dinner Adventure
Created by Spanish brothers and artistic directors Ramon and Antonio Riba, Pirates Dinner Adventure was born in Orlando. Its success led to the 2005 opening of a sister show in California. Both venues provide a spectacle of singing, dancing and drama aboard a replica 18th century Spanish galleon. The ship is anchored in a 300,000 gallon indoor lagoon with audience seating in six sections running down both sides.

Like most dinner shows, the ticket price includes a full meal along with the show. As of 2014, full-price tickets are expensive, at $64.95 plus tax for adults and teens, and $39.45 plus tax for kids ages 3 to 12. However, Pirates runs frequent special offers that cut prices by nearly half. Visit the official website, http://www.piratesdinneradventure.com/, and choose your location for details. Note that most specials require at least 24 hours advance purchase.

Our Experience: The Preshow
Since we were celebrating our birthdays, my friend and I considered upgrading our tickets. Upgrade packages vary in price and amenities, but generally include guaranteed better seating, upgraded menu items and even a birthday cake. Ultimately, however, we decided against spending the extra money.

As recommended, we arrived 90 minutes before showtime. The check-in line was long, but moved at a reasonably speedy pace. When we checked in, we had to show our printed reservation form and a photo ID. We were asked for our dinner order (beef or chicken), but it seemed unnecessary as we were asked again by our server later.

After checking in, we moved to the sprawling lobby area. The bars were open and selling drinks that were relatively inexpensive for a tourist attraction. A long gift shop counter spanned one wall, selling a blend of kid-friendly plastic pieces and higher quality, more expensive, collectible items. Complimentary small-bite appetizers were available at a station near one of the bars, though it was somewhat hard to spot through the crowd. The food was of decent quality and portions were adequate.

A small stage in one corner of the room was used for a high-energy preshow that got the audience pumped up. Impressively, at one point the preshow spilled over into the main lobby floor, and we just happened to be standing in the right spot for a fantastic view of an aerialist performing on a Spanish web.

The loose premise is that the audience is shanghaied, and the friendly staff played it up as they organized us by seating section based on color designations we were given at check-in. I must say, it was certainly the most good-natured shanghai I could have imagined. We got to stand back and watch the spectacle, as we were in the last group to be called.

Our Experience: Dinner and the Main Show

Audience Participation

The show is heavy on audience participation, involving both adults and kids.

Inside the main theater, we were seated in the front row at one end of the three-section seating on the starboard side of the ship. We had an excellent view of everything that was happening, and both agreed we were glad we hadn’t paid extra to upgrade.

Our server seemed a bit scattered. She ran out of beer in her pitcher and kept forgetting to bring more. Despite the fact that everyone at our long table ordered chicken, she had trouble remembering the order. She left us sitting for a long time with our salads, to the point that everyone else in the place was halfway through their entrees before we received ours. Then at the end of the meal, she made a big point out of the fact that tips are not included in the price of admission. Though the recommended gratuity is $5 per person (cash only), we ended up tipping $5 between us, as that’s what we felt the service was worth.

The food quality was decent, on the order of what you might receive from a large industrial kitchen. Nothing spectacular, but large, hearty portions of crowd-friendly meat and potatoes. A kids menu is also available.

The show was well done, with a loose but exciting plot line that was heavy on audience participation. I thought I had escaped notice, but toward the end of the show, a staff member asked me to follow her. A group of us young women were costumed in pirate hats and vests and given treasure chests to carry aboard the ship. It was kind of a kick, and I was impressed by how much attention was paid to the adults as well as the children.

My only complaint about the show is that the audio system is in desperate need of repair or replacement. Although the volume was reasonably loud, the dialogue was heavily muffled through the speakers. I spent a good portion of my time explaining what was going on to my friend and the gentleman on my other side, neither of whom has a diagnosed hearing problem.

A dance party with the actors is held in the lobby for approximately 30 minutes after the show. As we had to work early in the morning, we elected to skip it, but it looked like both kids and adults were showing off their best moves.

Tips for Parents
If you or your kids are pirate fans, definitely give Pirates Dinner Adventure a chance. With that said, don’t go into the experience expecting a Broadway-quality evening. Plan to relax and enjoy some silly fun while dining on cafeteria-quality beef or chicken. Odds are reasonably good that at least one person in your group will be selected to appear onstage, but prepare your kids for the possibility that this will not happen. In my opinion, Pirates is not worth paying full price, but taking advantage of one of the many specials makes it a great choice for a fun family evening.

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Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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