Important Tourist Disclaimer
There are a few things to get out of the way quickly before I really dive into this:
- You cannot safely stay within walking distance of the WM33 Stadium.
- You cannot rely on public transportation of any kind in Orlando.
- You cannot get “cheap” tickets to any major theme parks.
- The airport is not close to anything happening wrestling-related.
- Orlando & Kissimmee lead the country in pedestrian deaths, so stay alert.
A Place to Crash
This is all about budget and location priorities, as there’s no one place you can stay to be close to everything. Downtown Orlando is a pricey place to be, but can put you within walking or short Uber distance of everything WWE has planned. Amway Center and Camping World Stadium are a mile apart, but the stadium’s in a sketchy neighborhood that’s definitely not tourist-friendly. Amway Center is right next to Church Street, the main nightlife district in Orlando. Expect to spend well north of $300/night in this part of town if you’ve yet to book your room.
International Drive is the designated tourist trap of Florida, but that means you can find everything from roach motels to 5-star resorts within a few square miles. Both WrestleCon and What Culture Pro Wrestling have booked venues in this area, meaning you have a ton of places to stay and things to check out if you stay on that strip. Universal Studios Florida & Sea World are the cornerstones, but you also have Fun Spot, CoCo Key Water Park, NASCAR Kart Racing, Indoor Skydiving, I-Drive 360, Zombie Outbreak, and a bunch of mini golf courses. As a bonus, if you’re staying at the WrestleCon main hotel (Orlando Hyatt Regency), ROH is running a bus directly from there to their venue in Lakeland, FL for Supercard of Honor XI with a 1PM and a 3PM pickup for $5.
If WWN Live Experience is your main point of interest, your closest bet is a Days Inn down the street. As for additional attractions, there’s the 20th Century American cornerstone known as a shopping mall with a movie theater in it: The Altamonte Mall. There’s close to a dozen hotels by the Mall that are within a short drive of the WWN venue, all of which are currently between $75-175/night.
First main disclosure: Public Transportation is a fucking disgrace in Florida. We have the Lynx bus line and a couple of trolleys, and the start of a rail system, but having lived in Orlando on and off since 2013 I’ve never been able to rely on it to get anywhere in a timely manner. This isn’t NYC, Boston, Seattle, Portland, or Philly. For a city with more tourism than anywhere else in the country, getting around means a rental car or ride share services. Here are the uberX costs to get to the various venues with WrestleCon’s Hyatt Regency as the starting point. Keep in mind the ROH Fan Bus is also leaving from this hotel, which is a $5 option for their show. Up to 4 people can split an uberX, and I believe up to 6 can split an uberXL.
Getting Some Food
Orlando’s restaurant selection is a straight-up King’s Ransom of good food. Ruth’s Chris and Brazilian Steakhouses, Chicago pizza mainstay Giordano’s, sushi and pho for days. Orlando’s Mills50 district is arguably the city’s epicenter for awesome and affordable grub, with a thriving Vietnamese district and the new Lazy Moon location, Orlando’s best New York style pizza option. I-Drive has absolutely everything, but it’s more sprawling than compact so getting where you want to be can take more time and money. Downtown Orlando’s food scene is mostly comprised of pubs and steakhouses. A pretty cheap and highly necessary stop is 4 Rivers Steakhouse. It’s a local chain that’s a fast food-style place to get loaded up on red meat and amazing baked goods, and eating for under $20 is never a problem.
Checking Out the Theme Parks
Fun Spot is around $40-$60 for tickets, but is a pretty quick trip typically. Awesome go kart tracks and a couple coasters, but it’s largely midway games. Think Six Flags Jr.
Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure are your best option for a day trip. Depending on whether you want single park or dual-park passes, it’s going to run you $120-$170/person/day before food, drinks or parking. If you plan on attending RAW Monday night at the Amway Center, Monday morning to afternoon could be a great time to go and find smaller lines to deal with. If you don’t want to shell out for the tickets, they have a pretty great collection of stores, bars & restaurants in their outdoor mall known as CityWalk.
South of Orlando in the land of the Mouse (Buena Vista), you have Disney. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs. Magic Kingdom is the epicenter and pretty easily a full-day experience, single day tickets will run you $124/each. The secondary parks are all $114/day, but only Epcot could be considered an all day park. The Star Wars installations have about half of Hollywood Studios shut down, and Pandora won’t be completed in Animal Kingdom until at least Summer 2017, so those parks are both only worth your money if you’re cool with it being a half day experience. You also have the “Park Hopper” option for $164/person and free busses run between all of the Disney parks, so if Disney is high on your priority list that’s your best money option. Disney Springs is an outdoor mall similar to CityWalk with more upscale options and less in the way of nightlife. If you feel like showing up to NXT or Mania with some kicks that would make even Enzo or Shane O’Mac proud, the Michael Jordan Trophy Room is here.
Random Wrestling Attractions
It’s pretty easy to list off difference wrestling-related attractions from the past and present around Orlando, but realize that unless you have a rental car and a bunch of spare time some of them aren’t worth the effort. The WWE Performance Center is a great big grey block of a building in an industrial complex miles from anything else of note, no pomp or circumstance around it. The venue at Full Sail where NXT tapes TV may have a WWE banner or two around it, but you’re just looking at a strip mall that was converted into a technical school. TNA tapings in Universal have jumped between soundstage 19, 20 & 21, none of which have any kind of TNA or Impact marquees or signage in sight.
Impact currently has two sets of tapings planned for January, so if any tapings become scheduled for WrestleMania weekend I’ll add them to the guide.
-WrestleMania Tickets: http://tinyurl.com/wm33tix
-WrestleCon Tickets: http://tinyurl.com/wcontix
-WWN Live Experience Tickets: http://tinyurl.com/wwntix
-WhatCulture Pro Wrestling Tickets: http://tinyurl.com/wcpworltix
-ROH Supercard of Honor XI Tickets: http://tinyurl.com/rohtix17
Recommended Hotel Options
-Hyatt Regency (I-Drive, WrestleCon Location, $250/night) http://tinyurl.com/wconhtel
-Grand Bohemian (Downtown, Closest to Amway Center, $430/night) http://tinyurl.com/dtorlgb
-Downtown AirBnB Options (a bit cheaper, YMMV) http://tinyurl.com/wmairbb
-I-Drive AirBnB Options (same as downtown) http://tinyurl.com/idriveairbb