Knights in shining armor. White horses. Fair maidens. All the magnificent trappings of a bygone era come to life at Medieval Times, where ironclad knights clash for the title of King's Champion in front of a wide-eyed audience that peppers the battlefield with cheers and jeers between bites of a four-course dinner. Each two-hour tournament channels the pageantry and spectacle of 11th-century Spain, pitting six competitors against each other inside a spacious, sand-filled arena for the honor of earning the title of champion and the favor of the royal court. A spirited musical score infuses epic onslaughts with an extra dose of tension as adversaries joust atop stallions, deflect ferocious blows, and slice through suits forged of authentic junk mail. To further immerse guests in the fairy tale, Medieval Times encourages each guest to declare their allegiance by cheering loudly for the knight in their corner.
Like royal guests centuries ago, spectators bask in the revelry while feasting upon a finger-friendly bill of fare without the aid of utensils or the "choo-choo" sounds of parents. The four-course feast includes a tomato-bisque soup starter, oven-roasted chicken with a garlic-bread side, single spare rib, and an herb-basted potato. Servers periodically fill patrons? goblets with soda or water, which adults can supplement with purchases from a full-service bar. Meals conclude with the castle's sweet pastry dessert.
During 29 years of drifting through the Florida skies, Orlando Balloon Rides had already amassed an impressive fleet of gargantuan flying inflatables when a new balloon arrived. The product of an ambitious factory in Spain, the newcomer holds more than 400,000 cubic feet of hot air and stands as tall as an 11-story building. Four times the size of the average hot air inflatable, it's among the most massive hot air balloons currently flown in the United States.
Now reigning as a popular vessel for the company's sunrise tours, the mammoth balloon can fly away with a basket of 24 passengers as it commands the skies, dwarfing most clouds and giving the Goodyear Blimp an identity crisis. From any of Orlando Balloon Rides' baskets, passengers take in high-altitude views of Walt Disney World and the city's skyline, sights visitors rarely get to see from above. Each of the company's hot air balloons is piloted by an FAA-certified pilot who also serves as a knowledgeable narrator of the scenery below.
Joseph and Efren Boglio grew up in a Northern Italian town near Torino, raised by a mother locally renowned for her cooking abilities. Although the brothers loved the double-crusted, ricotta-stuffed pizza that she made every Easter, it wasn't until they moved across the ocean to Chicago that they realized just how special it was. Unable to find an equivalent after eating their way through local pizzerias and hunting pizzas in the wild, they opened Giordano's in 1974 with the goal of recreating the savory pie from their childhood. They've adapted their style over the years, but the concept has stayed the same: thick layers of mozzarella submerged in rich tomato sauce and served in a shallow bowl of golden dough. Diners can add ingredients such as spinach, sausage, or shrimp. Even though the Giordano’s deep-dish empire has expanded to Florida, its menu retains its old-country stamp with cuisine such as juicy italian beef and housemade meatballs.
CiCi’s Pizza combines the variety of a buffet with the thrill of bottomless pizza. Each pie is crafted with dough made from scratch daily and then slathered with homemade marinara and showered with toppings ranging from traditional pepperoni and Italian-style sausage to creative combinations including buffalo chicken and mac 'n' cheese. The buffet is stocked with a plethora of fresh pastas, as well as signature salads with the option to put tossing talents to the test at the salad bar. After they've feasted on savory options, diners can revisit the buffet for dessert including freshly baked brownies, slices of apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing—or they can eat dessert first, thereby tearing an irreparable hole in the space-time continuum.
Champions of adhering to traditional recipes and culinary practices, a father-and-son team serves as both the owners and head chefs of New Passage to India. Their kitchen staff whips up dishes native to a variety of Indian regions, granting diners a taste of the subcontinent without the paper cuts that come from eating maps. They handcraft ingredients such as house-made paneer cheese, garden-fresh mushrooms, and fresh lamb with pinches of hand-ground spices. Sensitive to varied tolerances of piquancy, the chefs customize the heat levels of many of their creations to individual preferences. Affable servers wend from table to table within the dining room’s deep-green walls and wooden columns.
Chefs at Flame Kabob clatter amid dancing flames and steaming pots in their kitchen, forging a menu of Mediterranean cuisine that hints at Lebanese, Moroccan, Turkish, and Greek influences. Aromas of marinated lamb charbroiled with onion, green peppers, and tomatoes intermingle with the spices of gyros roasting in the rippling embrace of a low fire. In the dining room, servers deliver plates of fresh hummus, couscous, and moussaka to white-clothed tables situated beneath pendant lamps. An outdoor patio fills with gentle rustling from umbrella-topped tables, which lets diners feel the warm breeze or see that their kite was only pretending to be stuck in a tree.