Arabian Nights review – A night out for your inner child

So sad to report that Arabian Nights has closed.

A promo video from Arabian Nights

In the Land of the Mouse is another storybook kingdom …. No. Wait. Let’s try again.

Spirited horses and lively young people put on a show of equestrian thrills that will delight and entertain you… Okay. That’s more like it.

And you get a good meal, too.

Anyway, your inner child and your inner Mom won’t squabble when you go out to see the Arabian Nights dinner show when you’re in Orlando.

This past November, one of my suggestions for our aviation-themed Florida trip (Kennedy Space Center Air Show, space shuttle Endeavor launch) was an evening at Arabian Nights.

We got to go in early and pet some of the horses. We got our pictures taken. We got to sit on the front row. And we got to breeze through the largest equestrian gift shop I’ve seen outside of Equine Affaire.

Arabian Nights is conveniently located near the Disney parks in Kissimmee, Florida.

About.com has a good description of the evening. I’ll try to fill in some gaps in these accounts.

I recommend making reservations by phone. I was able to access discounts not mentioned on the web page.

Yes, you can buy tickets the day of the show because the arena is large. Think college basketball coliseum-large.

Where did you sit?

Front row, baby. And it’s not because we have juice. Just good planning.

I called a few days ahead and made VIP reservations. I wanted to sit close to the action, and I wanted to take the VIP tour.

Thanks to calling ahead, the reservations clerk was able to find a good discount for us, better than what’s available online.

Arabian Nights action from our front row seats/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Arabian Nights action from our front row seats/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Why did you get VIP tickets?

Seating and the tour. We were admitted early to the arena where several horses and costumed cast members waited. Guests were encouraged to pet the horses and have their photos taken with them.

A draft horse had a ramp so children could climb aboard. A cast member kept their “Black Stallion” for photos.

So where are your pictures from the tour?

Mine from this part of the tour turned out lousy. The arena lighting is low at this point, so you need a flash. If someone’s in front of you, they light up beautifully. As for the horse in front of them? Not so much.

In "the makeup chair" at Arabian Nights/Photo by Rhonda Lane

In “the makeup chair” at Arabian Nights/Photo by Rhonda Lane

What’s the barn like?

Open with good ventilation and lots of natural light (see above.) There’s a large grooming room off to the left of that, much bigger than what I’ve seen in some competitive show barns, excellent for accommodating  Arabian Nights’s large cast of horses.

After we’d prowled the barn area, chatted with costumed performers and watched grooms apply black light body paint to the flanks of a horse, we got to sit in our front row seats.

How’s the food?

Tasty and healthy. Moms, both inner and nearby, will be pleased. The meal is served in the dark as you watch the show.

Various options are available for the meal. We had a salad, then chicken breasts with broccoli and carrots.  We also had some ice cream.

Roman riding at Arabian Nights/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Roman riding at Arabian Nights/Photo by Rhonda Lane

If you’re on the front row, didn’t you get dirt in your food?

No. It’s not like some competitive horse shows where you can park lawn chairs right up to the rail.

Arabian Nights is presented in an arena with a solid rail, then a wide walkway and THEN the benches and tables. Imagine that basketball arena again, but cover the floor with soft bedding. The horses didn’t get close enough to the rail to wing any footing into the chow.

As for the footing, it’s a soft thick layer of what reminded me of mulch. No dust.

That skybox at the end of the arena is available for large parties, as well as for those visitors who might have environmental issues.

However, my husband has allergies to dust, but he was fine.

Enough of this – how’s the show?

We loved it. My husband loves animals, but isn’t particularly horsey. He even enjoyed it and learned how to recognize the dish face of an Arabian horse.

I had a blast watching the different riding demos, framed in the story of the princess pining for her desert home and awaiting her true love.

And, FWIW, the trick riding and action are thrilling enough that little boys can gloss over the princess stuff.

As I told DH on the ride back to the hotel, I have never had such a good meal that I cared about less.

The show includes dressage, Roman riding, vaulting, cowboy trick riding, comic antics, a chariot race, Arabians at liberty and pretty costumes.

Want to pet some horses but are on a budget?

After the grand finale with horses romping at liberty — which my husband loved the most — various cast members lined up head-to-tail along the rail so that audience members could come up and pet the horses.

Meet the horses after the Arabian Nights show/Photo by Rhonda Lane

Meet the horses after the Arabian Nights show/Photo by Rhonda Lane

But call ahead to see if you can get one of the discounts available for a VIP ticket. You may be surprised at the price. The opportunity to sit on the front row was worth it.


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