Grand Prix Orlando Survival Guide

Posted 24 December 2011 | articles   

Grand Prix Orlando is fast approaching and it’s on my home turf finally. The only other GP I have been to was GP Portland (report post here) and it was one of the top Magic experiences I have ever had. I love the area and I got to visit my father who I don’t get to see very often so it was the best one for me to try attend.

One of the highlights for GP Portland was getting to meet Jay Boosh and Smi77y of the Eh Team fame back when they were first just starting out. Jay Boosh acctually gave me a shout out on the next episode but he screwed up my Twitter name which I attribute to why I only have 40 followers still. I’m sure that’s the only reason.

The venue is the Wyndham Resort that is directly in the middle of International Drive which is super busy all year round with a lot of travelers like you crazy people.

I haven’t done it much but the best part of traveling to Magic tournaments, to me at least, is seeing new places, eating new foods, and doing stuff outside of the tournament itself. I figured I’d put a quick post up as sort of a “survival guide” to having fun if your ever going to see sunlight while your here.

 

Watch out for alligators.

 

So a couple of quick notes first:

  • International Drive is OBVIOUSLY a big international attraction…there will be a lot of foreign people walking around so be respectful.
  • January is the slow season around here so the crowds shouldn’t be too bad…but don’t quote me.
  • Temperature will be around 50 at night and 75 during the day. The humidity is really high here so it often feels hotter than it really is.
  • The public transportation here sucks so much you have no idea. There is a trolley that goes up and down I-Drive every 20 minutes which is probably your best bet.

Yes, this is much like riding the buses here.

 

Onto the food:

Asian

  • Bento Cafe – About 5-10 minutes away walking. The absolute best and very unique take on asian fusion dining. I highly suggest going at least once.

Seafood

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co – This is where my day job is. It’s on Citywalk which is the free to get in area in front of Universal Studios.
  • Boston Lobster Feast – This is the best but it’s super expensive, only go if your super good at the credit card game. South a little bit on I-Drive.

Brazilian

  • Vittorios – Fantastic buffet with great traditional Brazilian foods, my wife loves it. It’s on north I-Drive across from the Festival Bay mall (which is garbage, don’t go there).
  • Brazil 24-Hour – Most affordable churascaria around but it’s not fantastic. It’s also not open 24 hours despite the name. North on corner of I-Drive and Kirkman Rd.

Salads

  • Sweet Tomatoes – Imagine a buffet with just salads. Yep. North I-Drive about 20 minutes walking, on the corner of I-Drive and Kirkman Rd.

Breakfast

  • Ponderosa Steakhouse – 3.99 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, you really can’t beat it. You should eat breakfast here everyday. On north I-Drive right before Wet and Wild.

Misc

  • Bahama Breeze – Fantastic island inspired food and outdoor seating with a live band. South of the Wyndham on I-Drive.
  • Dave and Busters – This place is the shit. It’s basiclly an adult arcade. This is a must do one night, it’s got a full restaurant inside and tons of games and things for us nerds to do. South I-Drive again…you can’t miss it. It almost always has a line around the building to get in.

Alcoholics and Patrick Chapin

  • ICEBAR Orlando – I don’t drink but if I did I have been told this place is the place to go. It’s one of only 2 icebars in America. It’s a little south, 5-10 minutes walking. They also have a “Fire” lounge night club.

Other fun things nearby:

  • Universal Studios – About 15-20 minutes away walking north on I-Drive. The main attraction in the area, buy a Harry Potter wand and flash it when you cast spells during the tournament. The judges will love it.
  • Citywalk – This is the area around Universal which is free to get in if you’re not driving. It’s got a bunch of restaurants (Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Emerill’s), AMC movie theater, bars, etc.
  • Movies – The 2 best options for you would be Pointe Orlando which is a bunch of overpriced tourist shops, about 5-10 minutes away walking down I-Drive south or the AMC which is in Citywalk, at the entrance to Universal Studios.
  • Mini golf – These are everywhere, there are at least 3 within 5-10 minutes walking distance. If you hit me up and I like you I have a stack of free game coupons I can give out.
  • Orlando Improv Comedy Club – If this is your thing then it’s at the Pointe Orlando center to the south.
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum – To the south near Pointe Orlando, 5-10 minutes away walking.
  • Go Karts – North I-Drive past the road to Universal, pretty cheap.
  • Sea World – To a lesser extent than Universal because it’s further away, if you rent a car or travel by bus (again, the buses here blow) it’s not too far but it’s the far opposite end of International Drive going South, way past the Orange County Convention Center.
  • Wet and Wild – Not that anyone wants to see a bunch of Magic players with their shirts off (except Kibler) but it’s a pretty cheap option if you want, about 15-20 minutes away by walking. They have 2 rates, tickets are half price after 2 PM.
  • Disney – One big word of warning, Disney is NOT NEAR the tournament venue. It’s pretty far away, you will either need to rent a car or find some other mode of transportation.

 

Best rollercoaster around.

 

The MUST DOs, in my opinion, are Universal Studios (if your budget permits) or Disney if you have kids and Dave and Busters multiple times.

There is no really close place to FNM…Coolstuffinc is on the other side of Orlando and the next best place, Phoenix Games (the organizers that setup the GP), is about a 20 minute drive away on West Colonial Drive. Maybe there is a super FNM at the venue?

Hope to see you there, look me up at the tournament and say hi.

If anyone has any specific questions please feel free to email me or message me on Twitter, if it’s a big topic I’ll add it to this post…I made this list pretty quickly so I might add more later anyways.

 

Sean Roden aka enemyzero
I will be wearing a black Las Vegas t-shirt to remind me how horrible I did at SCG Las Vegas.
Twitter: en3myzero