It's been a long day at Central Florida's theme parks and you are tired and hungry, though still ready for another dose of fantasy. Head for one of the many themed diners in Kissimmee and the surrounding area. They are fun and family-friendly, so parents and grandparents can bring the kids without a second thought.
"I love the horses!" says Megan Douin, 10, who's enjoying the Arabian Nights dinner show in Kissimmee with her sister Alyssa, 12, and her mother, Tina Douin.
"I love the genie, the costumes, but best of all the horses," Alyssa says.
Both girls ride horses back home in Searsmont, Maine, so they understand the amount of training it takes to make horses race, march and dance as they do in the show.
The attraction, with a cast of 70 horses and 30 performers, is especially well-suited for their family because of the girls equestrian interests, but Tina Douin says she would recommend it to any family with children, because the show is enjoyably eye-popping for all age groups -- and casual. In attendance on any given night are families with kids from infants and toddlers to teens.
Our grandson was 16 months old when he attended his first dinner show with his parents and grandparents, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness, the camping area at Walt Disney World. He contentedly munched on fried chicken, beans, corn and strawberry shortcake, and the only sound that came out of him and other children at the show was giggles and laughter at the cast's antics during this Old West-themed musical revue.
If you'd like to top off a day at a Central Florida park with the additional magic of a family-friendly dinner show or themed meal, here are 10 options:
1. Arabian Nights
6225 W. Highway 192, Kissimmee
407-239-9223 or 800-553-6116
It's like living a fairy tale as you attend the wedding of a prince and princess at Arabian Nights. The festivities include dancing Arabian horses, costumed courtiers, and a prime rib dinner or vegetable lasagna with unlimited beverages. Dessert is, of course, a slice of wedding cake. There are fried chicken fingers for the children. Prices: $50.29 adult, $31.03 child (3-11), children under 3 are free.
2. Capone's Dinner and Show
4740 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee
407-397-2378 or 800-220-8428
This Gangland Chicago song and dance comedy revue includes unlimited buffet, beer, cocktails -- a blast-from-the-past '30s-era speakeasy. Prices: $39.95 adult, $23.95 child (12 and under), $19.95 senior (55+).
3. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament
4510 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee
Feast on a four-course medieval banquet as you would in the Middle Ages (eating half a roast chicken without utensils is a riot!) and watch daring knights on beautiful Andalusian horses competing in medieval tournament games, sword fighting, and jousting matches. Prices: $50.24 adult, $33.12 child (3-11), plus tax; 10 percent senior discount (55+).
4. Makahiki Luau at Sea World Orlando
7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando
This nightly Polynesian Luau at Sea World Orlando will transport you to a tropical paradise, with a menu including fresh fruit appetizer, tropical salad, Hawaiian chicken, sweet/sour pork, fried rice, and other dishes served family-style as you enjoy an evening of island entertainment. Hot dogs and chicken fingers are available at no extra charge for the children. Prices: $42.95 adult, $27.95 children (3 to 9; children under 3 are free) plus tax.
5. Disney Character Dining
Various restaurants and meal times, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista
Children and the young-at-heart love getting a hug from one of Disney's characters, or maybe getting an autograph and posing for pictures. Several character breakfasts, lunches and dinners are offered daily at Disney World parks and resorts. Prices vary. One very popular dinner is at Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale all make appearances. The meal is buffet-style, including carved meats, seafood, pasta, veggies, pizza and salads. Prices are $26.99 for adults, $11.99 for children ages 3 to 11.
6. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista
Hilarious hoe-down style entertainment and all-you-can-eat country vittles make this a special evening at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort (free launches take you to the resort campground from the front of the Magic Kingdom). Prices: $50.22 adult, $25.43 child (3-11), tax and gratuity included.
7. Polynesian Luau at Disney's Polynesian Resort
Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista
Music and dances of the South Pacific including Tahiti, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Hawaii accompany a luau feast of Lanai roasted chicken, Polynesian wild rice and South Seas vegetables plus draft beer, wine, sodas, milk, coffee and tea. Children's menu includes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and hot dogs. Prices: $50.22 adult, $25.43 child (3-11), including tax and gratuity.
8. Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede
8521 Vineland Ave., Orlando
This is a Southern-style feast including a whole roasted chicken, barbecued pork, corn on the cob, creamy vegetable soup, biscuit and an apple dessert. The show is an extravaganza featuring competitions on horseback and such wacky events as pig races and ostrich races. Prices: $46.99 for adults; $19.99 for children.
9. Sleuths/Merry Mystery Dinner Adventure
7508 Universal Blvd., Orlando
407-363-1985 or 800-393-1985
Two interactive mysteries designed for kids and their families. Menu includes hors d'oeuvres, salad and rolls, Cornish game hen or lasagna, with or without meatballs, and mystery dessert, with beer, wine and sodas. Additional charge of $3 for prime rib. No children's menu. Prices: $46.95 adult, $23.95 child (3-12).
10. Pirate's Dinner Adventure
6400 Carrier Drive, Orlando
407-248-0590 or 800-866-2469
Yo-ho-ho! Feel like a pirate if only for one night! Features stunts, action-packed live performances, and a Pirate's Feast including roast chicken, roast beef and apple pie a la mode. Chicken fingers are available for children. Prices: $49.95 adult, $29.95 child (3-11), plus tax.
Georgina Cruz is a freelance travel writer. She lives in Vero Beach.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times