Pirates Dinner Adventure
6400 Carrier Drive, Orlando 32819
(800) 866-2469; (407) 248-0590
Prices: Adults $55.33, children (3 to 11) $34.03. Prices include tax but not gratuity.
Times: Show times vary from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Call to check. Doors open an hour prior.
Directions: From I-4 Exit 74, go east (Sand Lake Road), left on International Drive, then right on Carrier.
If there were Academy Awards for Orlando dinner shows, Pirates Dinner Adventure would have to get the best set award. This cheerful mélange of old-time Technicolor pirate movie, Broadway musical, and big top circus unfolds in a fog-shrouded domed arena dominated by a towering and ghostly pirate vessel a-sail on the watery deep. They’re pretty generous with the special effects, as well, and pyrotechnic wizardry is very much in evidence. Parents with very young children, who may be alarmed by all the crashing and booming, may want to consider a more low-key dinner show. Older kids, however, should have a blast with this rollicking performance.
The fun starts in a large antechamber where a Festival, celebrating the arrival of Princess Anita, welcomes arriving guests with Gypsy fortune tellers, face painting for kids, a mini-maritime museum, and a very funny comic host who pulls audience members on-stage for various routines (after all, this is the affair that bills itself as “the world’s most interactive dinner show”). There are hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar, and even a tiny arcade for die-hard video game freaks. The show proper gets under way with the explosive entrance of a band of oddly friendly pirates who are, funnily enough, color-coded to correspond with your seating tickets. They kidnap the princess and a comely gypsy wench, and then, for good measure, shanghai the entire audience, shepherding us to their outlaw realm.
We know these pirates can’t be all bad when they announce that they will serve us a sumptuous meal, just to prepare us for the torture, maiming, and certain death that will follow shortly. They even take the time to bond with their captives, as each pirate works his color-coded section into a frenzy, to ensure that they’ll cheer him on and boo his opponents in any contests of wit, skill or luck that might come up.
The meal served is a hearty one: yellow rice with roasted pork or chicken. Considerate pirates that they are, vegetarian lasagna is also available upon request, although guests are advised to alert the staff ahead of time to be sure they’ll have some ready to go. Then we settle back for a celebration of swashbuckling derring do on the high seas.
In a plot that defies rational explication, we find ourselves caught up in a story that involves the love of a young pirate lad for a princess, family ties, trampolines, crew rivalries that require will require the audience’s participation to be settled, jumping rope, and – would you believe? – a circus aerial act. There is also a delightfully droll and smarmy pirate captain, accompanied by his wife, a feisty redhead with a voice like cannon fire. They make a highly entertaining couple.
Punctuated by song, the fast and furious action moves left and right, up and down, comes from behind us, and soars high over our heads. The “Golden Gypsy” dances high above, the pirates compete in wacky games of skill, and kids from the audience are taken aboard to be sworn in as swashbuckling buccaneers. All too soon it seems, the King’s army arrives to save the day, though things are cleverly rigged such that the audience can’t help but cheer them on. There will probably be times during all this when you don’t know what the heck is going on, but you’ll probably enjoying yourself too much to care.
All this cheerfully chaotic mayhem is carried forward by a game and talented young cast. The male pirate chorus is especially fine. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing along to the refrain of “Drink, Drink, Drink.” And speaking of drinking, beer, wine, and soda flow freely during the meal and afterwards.
For those who care to linger after the show, there is a “Pirates’ Buccaneer Bash” where cast members are available for photos, the cash bar re-opens, and guests are invited to stick around for dancing, sing-alongs and socializing.
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