You’re counting down to the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve. And you don’t have to worry about dropping the ball on celebratory plans… because we’ve got you covered with an epic list of places to have a ball in Orlando! New Year’s Eve is a climatic time to commemorate both the successes of the past year and the anticipation of the next. Whether you want to party near the Epcot ball in the theme park district or stay balled up in a cozy theater seat, Orlando is bursting with opportunities for jolly jubilation. Here are the best places to ring in 2020:
1. Enzian Theater
With stars on the big scene and in the sky above, Enzian Theater rolls out the red carpet on New Year’s Eve. This cinematic café casts independent, foreign and classic motion pictures on its single screen, surrounded by plush couches, velvet chairs and dining tables. You’ll eat up the eclectic ambiance both in the auditorium and at Eden Bar, the outdoor space serving a surprising full menu for movie-watchers and bar hoppers.
This year, Enzian is calling all dappers and flappers to join the Great Gatsby New Year’s Eve Party. Come dressed to impress as prizes will be awarded for the best themed attire. This event is for guests age 21 and up with an open bar and top-shelf liquor available for purchase. Delight in light hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening, and listen to live DJ-spun tunes until the confetti cannon/ball drop at midnight. General admission is $99 per person, with optional VIP packages for two ($325) or four ($650) people. VIP includes a private table in the reserved section, a VIP bar, plated hors d’oeuvres, party favors and complimentary champagne.
Stay after play: Change out of your themed attire and into cozy pajamas to rest at Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando-Maitland overlooking Lake Lucien.
2. The Edison
Located in bustling Disney Springs, The Edison is a unique dining experience within an abandoned power plant. This venue typical serves comfort American fare in a family-friendly atmosphere until 10pm. Then, after 10 pm, patrons 21+ are invited and enjoy live entertainment for the remainder of the evening.
The Edison is set to celebrate its second anniversary with you on New Year’s Eve with an upscale gala event. Prepare to have your senses amazed with magical music, burlesque dancers, aerialist performances, stilt walkers and more. Awe your palette with mouthwatering bites from food stations, delectable desserts and premium liquid libations. At midnight, sip champagne to prime your lips for traditional ball drop smooches. Tickets are $150 per person with festivities scheduled from 7:30pm to 2am.
Stay after play: The Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista – Disney Springs Area, Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace – Disney Springs Area and DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Orlando – Disney Springs Area are all within walking distance to Disney Springs ─ with the first two connecting via a pedestrian bridge.
New Year’s Eve can feel like a fairytale at any location, but celebrating with Mickey Mouse and Disney princesses really pushes the enchantment over the top. While Epcot is certainly family-friendly, it is the most “adult” of all the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Adding New Year’s Eve at Epcot to your bucket list is a must for Orlandoans and visitors alike! Throughout the day, you’ll be handed special party favors like horns and hats leading up to the main event: a fireworks spectacular like none other. The newly-released Epcot Forever firework display is set to light up the sky with vibrant explosions at 6:30pm and 11:40pm. The special 2020 countdown and pyrotechnics will begin after the 11:40pm showing.
There are a few things to take into consideration for this festive holiday happening. Walt Disney World Resort usually has a steady stream of guests at all times but expect increased crowds on December 31. Plan to arrive as early as possible since the parks typically reach capacity on New Year’s Eve. On the plus side, the normally closed-off grassy areas are opened for park-goers to take rest and reboot. Visiting on a previous New Year’s Eve, my husband and I ended up taking a restorative afternoon nap in one of these areas which gave us the energy boost to finish out our grand 16-hour day! You’ll have a view of the fireworks from most anywhere in the park but I suggest taking the time to stake out an optimal spot around the World Showcase early (and I mean early)!
Stay after play: Hilton has five properties that carry the official Walt Disney World hotel status. Snag access to magical benefits when staying at the three Disney Springs locations mentioned just above and also Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
4. Howl at the Moon
Sing your way through Hogmanay at Howl at the Moon’s New Year’s Eve 2020. You are sure to leave this out-of-this-world party feeling moonstruck. Howl at the Moon is not just a dueling piano bar. The house band has a way of interacting with the audience giving a sense of inclusion to all patrons. Covering hits and even some obscure tunes from the days of the past to now, there’s a beat for everyone. Be sure you bring some extra cash for the phrase mirrors. Customers can change the phrase on the mirrors to what they would like them to say throughout the evening by paying the listed amount. This amount starts low at the beginning of the evening but increases with each change.
There are multiple packages available, ranging from $20 per person for general admission to $130 per person for the Champagne Supernova.
Stay after play: Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando-International Drive/Convention Center is a stone’s throw away from Howl at the Moon. Cheers to convenience!
5. ICON Park
ICON Park is always an excellent choice for playful merriment and, perhaps, especially so for New Year’s Eve. Prepare for paparazzi at Madame Tussauds, swim through ocean life at Sea Life Orlando, dine at one of the eateries (like Tapa Toro with vibrant flamenco dancers or Tin Roof with live bands) and shop at one of the stores for a souvenir to commemorate the special evening.
Once again, ICON Park will “Light Up I-Drive” with their New Year’s Around the Wheel bash. Kicking off at 10am, it’s an all-day bash with countdowns to various time zones around the world, live entertainment and a spectacular ending with a fiery display of fireworks. This party is perfect for all ages.
Stay after play: Appreciate the ball dropping around the world while staying internationally… well, on International Drive anyway. In addition the Homewood Suites listed just above, Hilton Orlando and Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive I Drive 360 are also nearby.
6. Aprons Cooking School
Most celebratory events center around scrumptious food, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Publix Aprons Cooking School is an ideal environment for one person or a group of many to feast on fun. It’s an interactive experience that allows you to learn fresh cooking techniques, mingle with new and old friends and taste culinary art all at one time. School has never been so fun, right?! Aprons offers both hands-on workshops and demonstration classes. The hands-on sessions allow you to prep, cook and eat your way through a memorable meal. Demonstrations put you in the spectator’s seat to watch chefs professionally create each course. Fortunately, the audience doesn’t have to wait until the end to enjoy the fruits of the chefs’ labor; you can nosh the entire time.
Allow yourself to indulge by purchasing seats for A Sparkling New Year’s Eve Celebration. There will be four courses, each matched with a sparkling wine from a different region of the world. The menu includes: lobster bisque with maple crème fraiche; sweet potato, balsamic onion and sopressata flatbreads with herbed goat cheese; horseradish and herb-crusted beef rib roast with caramelized brussels sprouts and garlic-mashed potatoes; and chocolate pot de crème with candied brioche whipped cream. The class begins at 5pm and is $60 per seat.
Stay after play: Book a nearby overnight stay at Embassy Suites Hotels by Hilton just off Restaurant Row where, among other family-centric conveniences, babysitting services are available.
7. SAK Comedy Lab
One of the enticing features of SAK Comedy Lab, aside from an evening of laughs, is that no two shows are ever the same since it is all improvisation. Having enjoyed a show on more than one occasion myself, I warn that you may leave feeling joyful (and even a little sore) from hardcore belly-laughing. What better way to kick 2019 to the curb and welcome 2020 with a big smile on your face?
This year, SAK will offer two shows to accommodate a wide range of age groups. The first show at 7:30pm will be family-friendly and conclude by 9pm, followed by a countdown to midnight in the Azores Islands which are three hours behind us. The second show will be adult theme with mature humor. This show will conclude at 11:30pm, with bonus time to socialize and snack on light hors d’oeuvres before the complimentary champagne toast at midnight.
Stay after play: Skip the Uber and simply wander over to Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Downtown overlooking Lake Eola Park.
8. SeaWorld Orlando
Celebrators of all ages can revel in glee at this festive locale saluting the connection we have with our world and the creatures that inhabit our oceans. Guests at SeaWorld can ride the wave into the New Year with live music, street performers, craft beer kiosks and fireworks during the New Year’s Eve affair. Since this event is part of the holiday extravaganza, park goers will get to experience all of the Christmas festivities and shows until the last second of 2019 which will end with a musical display of pyrotechnics.
The crowds at SeaWorld are typically more manageable than other local theme parks during this time, so the decision to spend New Year’s Eve here is an excellent one. Regular admission into the park includes all of the extra fun giving your wallet a slight sigh of relief.
9. Universal CityWalk
This 21 and over event is really a wonder to experience. Ticket holders to the EVE party at Universal CityWalk can graze or indulge on the unlimited epicurean grub with specialty drinks to wash it all down. Not only are there five clubs with live bands and DJ’s spinning grooving tunes, but in the middle of the mayhem is a large outdoor dance floor manned with DJ M-Squared who’ll keep everyone bouncing to the beat.
Upgrade to start the New Year in style with the Pavilion Party ticket. This limited availability ticket places you at the center of it all with exclusive seating and three drink vouchers, plus a ticket for the midnight champagne toast. Ticket pricing is $149.99 for general entry, $239.44 for the EVE VIP ticket and $350 for the Pavilion Party pass. If you purchase before December 15, enjoy a step savings of $30 for general, $40 for VIP or $50 for the Pavilion Party.
Stay after play: When you’re ready for your post-party snooze, head to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel right at the entrance to Universal Orlando Resort.
10. Wall Street Plaza
In the heart of downtown Orlando, Wall Street Plaza is ready to welcome you with open arms to its New Year’s Eve Block Party. DJ Colt will host the evening featuring a street-wide light show, LED video walls and indoor/outdoor dance party that’ll keep the night from losing any luminous luster. Kicking off at 8pm, general admission tickets will give you access to the open-air, pedestrian-friendly corridor and eight bar venues, including Wall Street Cantina, Sideshow, WaiTiki, The Monkey Bar, The Other Bar, Hen House, Shine and Hooch.
General admission tickets are $25 per person presale or $30 per person at the door. Party with VIP treatment for $100 per person and gain access to the Resolutions Lounge. This private and tented space will feature an open bar from 10pm-2am and end with a special 2am breakfast.
Stay after play: With views of Lake Ivanhoe, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando Downtown is a wise choice. This renovated property has a heated rooftop pool and lounge deck, a Starbucks café and a breakfast buffet.
No matter where you decide to rollick and ring in the New Year, be sure it’s spent with your treasured tribe by your side in Orlando. Cheers to you and yours in 2020!