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Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

We watch Orlando Magic play a home game at the Amway Center in Florida

On our recent visit to Orlando, we were keen to check out a proper American sports event.

Our son is a basketball fan, so we secured tickets and are so glad we did – it’s a night we won’t forget and the atmosphere was amazing.

Here’s our guide, if you are interested in doing the same.

What is it?

Our tickets were to watch Orlando Magic, a professional basketball team based in Orlando, Florida which competes in the National Basketball Association as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference Southeast Division.

It was their season opening game at home to Boston Celtics in front of a packed crowd of around 18,000 people.

Our children, aged 12 and 8, really enjoyed the experience which is totally different from a sporting event in the UK and extremely family-friendly.

Where is it?

Orlando Magic play their home games at the Amway Center. This big arena, which also hosts concerts, is in downtown Orlando about a 15 to 20-minute drive from Disney World or Universal Studios.

Children at the Amway Center, Orlando Magic, Florida

The Amway Center

What did we think

Our children loved this experience and are keen to go back to another NBA game in the USA.

It is very family-friendly with pre-match entertainment, food, activities on the big screen, gifts being thrown out into the crowd and more.

We didn’t hear any swearing or nasty chants like you may at a British football match. It felt really fun and safe.

Highlights

*Pre-match there were fun and games outside the Amway Center with a Fan Fest (this happens for the bigger matches at Magic). There was face panting, basketball hoops for children to shoot at, music from a DJ and merchandise stalls.

*Once inside, younger children could play at STUFF’s Magic Castle (named after the Orlando Magic mascot), a play area on the promenade level of the concourse.

*It isn’t hard to find children’s food at one of the dozens of stalls inside. There is pizza, hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream and more. We tucked into some pre-match pizza. A word of warning though – it gets quite overwhelmingly busy as it seemed almost everyone was having a meal before the match started.

*The atmosphere – we loved the countdown to tip-off, the last 10 or 15 minutes had light shows, music and more as the players were announced. Once the game starts there is so much to see, children won’t get bored.

*Apart from the action you get t-shirts fired into the crowd as prizes, games to play via the big-screen and chants to join.

*GIveaways – lots of matches have giveaways for fans with t-shirts or hats on every seat. Everyone at our match received a free t-shirt waiting on their seat for them – all adult extra-large but a great keepsake!

Our top tips

*Get there early. At a British sporting event, most people aren’t in their seats until the last few minutes. We got to the Magic game more than an hour before it started and it was packed!

Children at the Amway Center, Orlando Magic, Florida

Enjoying the match

*Bags aren’t allowed in, only very small handbags. Don’t bring your backpack from a day at the parks, you won’t get it inside.

*Food is similar priced to Orlando theme parks and portions are big so consider sharing to save some money. Drinks, including water, are very expensive in the USA and you can’t bring bottles in so this does add to the cost of the experience.

*Taxis are the best way to get to the Amway Center as there wasn’t much parking around.

*If you are worried about it being busy at the end, maybe leave a few minutes beforehand if it isn’t a close game to ensure children aren’t waiting around for a taxi, Uber or Lyft.

Our Lyft driver was able to pull up and collect us about 100 metres from the exit of the stadium.

Orlando Magic information

Food: There were all sorts of food options with a stall every 20 metres on different levels of the stadium. There was water and soft drinks available everywhere for children. You can eat food and have drinks either on the concourse or at your seat.

Opening hours: The stadium opens one hour before the match starts. Matches last between two and two and a half hours. So if a match is advertised to start at 7pm EST then arrive at 6pm and you will probably be there until 9.30pm.

Cost: Tickets depend on how close to the action you want to sit and who the opposition is. Tickets cost more for matches against more famous teams like Boston Celtics or LA Lakers. Tickets range from 15 dollars to 1,000 dollars.

Best for: Children aged six and above with the patience to watch the match, which lasts about two hours including breaks for half-time.

Time needed: Arrive one hour before the match starts. The game then last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Access and restrictions: Fully accessible with seats available for wheelchair users and companions. There are two accessible elevators on the west side of the building, which services the Event, Founders, Terrace, and Mezzanine Levels.

There are also four accessible elevators in the NE, NW, SE and SW corners of the Club Level that provide access from the Club Level down to the loge and club seating areas.

Address: Orlando Magic, Amway Center, 400 W Church St Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32801, United States.

For tickets: If you’re planning on attending a game, you can contact an Orlando Magic Ticket Representative by visiting orlandomagic.com/tickets using the ‘Live Chat’.

Where to stay: We stayed at Marriott Village Orlando which was also a great location for Universal and the very expensive but very wonderful Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

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*We received free tickets from Orlando Magic for the purposes of this review. All opinion are our own.

Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

Florida in 10 days – where to stay and what to do

Our 10-night Florida itinerary – Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels, three waterparks and four days by the coast

A trip to Florida can be a once-in-a-lifetime holiday so if you are lucky enough to be going, you need to plan wisely.

There is SO MUCH to see and do that when you first sit down to organise this adventure for your family, it can seem overwhelming.

We’ve just taken our children to Florida – it was their first time in America and very special.

Our trip included Universal, Disney World, Legoland, a basketball match, five hotels (including one dream hotel – more of that later), three waterparks and four days by the coast staying on two of America’s best beaches.

I feel tired just writing all that! But it was manageable thanks to enthusiasm and some down time.

So here is our 10-day itinerary, we hope it inspires you.

 

Day 1

Travel and settle in at our first hotel

Hotel 1 – Springfield Suites at Marriott Village Orlando.

Springfield Suites, Marriott Village Orlando, Florida

Springfield Suites

This was a great location – a 20-minute taxi drive to Universal and a free shuttle to Disney World.

Read our full review here: Marriott Village Orlando hotels near to Disney World and Universal Studios

Day 2 and 3

Universal Resort Orlando (Universal Studios)

Olivander's Wand Shop, Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Olivander’s Wand Shop

The amazing attraction that is Universal Resort Orlando is made up of the theme parks Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure plus the Volcano Bay water park.

This had the edge over Disney World for us especially as three of us are Harry Potter fans. It’s where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is – Diagon Alley is at Universal Studios and Hogsmeade is at Islands of Adventure. You can even catch the Hogwarts Express between the two.

Highlight: Our son being chosen by ‘Olivander’ to select a wand for him in the mini-show at Olivander’s Wand Shop.

We’ve got a full guide, pictures and video for you – Universal Orlando Resort – guide and top tips for one of the most popular attractions in the world

Day 3 evening

Basketball match

We wanted to do something authentically American like a sports match and our son is a basketball fan.

We went to the Orlando Magic home stadium the Amway Center, to see them take on Boston Celtics.

Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics basketball match at the Amway Center

Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics at the Amway Center

Everyone arrives an hour early to soak up the atmosphere and gets to their seats early to enjoy the entertainment.

It was a fantastic experience, read about it here: Want to watch a basketball match in Orlando? Here’s all you need to know

Day 4

Hotel 2 – Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Relaxing at Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando

Widely named the best hotel in Florida, this was a real treat. It is a very luxurious place to stay with such attentive staff, delicious food and sumptuous surroundings.

Best of all, there’s a little water park so it’s a great place to enjoy a more relaxing day amid all the busy parks.

It’s within Disney World grounds and has a free shuttle bus service there.

We had a fabulous day enjoying the five-star surroundings, trying out the water slides and the lazy river, before hitting Disney the next day.

Read all about this glorious place – Top luxury hotel review and tips – Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Day 5

Disney World

In front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Disney World

Disney World is one of the reasons that Florida is so popular. There are four parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios plus water parks.

We did a long day here to maximise the value of the expensive tickets. We started at 8am and left Epcot at 8pm. Yes, it was tiring but we saw a lot in one day.

We bought a Park Hopper ticket and started at the iconic Magic Kingdom, leaving after the parade in the afternoon and heading for Epcot. This was a great decision as the Frozen Ever After boat ride there is amazing.

Day 6

Legoland Florida Resort

Now with a hire car, we drove 45 minutes to Legoland.

Legoland Resort Florida entrance start

Legoland Florida

Fantastic for younger ones and without the queues of Universal and Disney World (at least not when we went), this was a slower-paced couple of days in the park and at its water park.

We stayed on site at its Pirate Island Hotel and our favourite part was the Ninjago ride, which we went on four times.

Read all about it – Legoland Florida Resort – park and hotel review, guide and top tips

Part 2 – the coast

After a fast-paced few days, we were ready to head to Florida’s Gulf Coast – to lovely Clearwater and St Pete.

Day 7

After spending the morning at Legoland we headed for hotel 4 – Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club in Clearwater.

The private beach at Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater

The hotel’s private beach

This hotel has a swimming pool and is on a private beach so it was nice to chill out for the afternoon after we arrived.

Day 8

We went to Clearwater Aquarium where film star Winter the Dolphin from A Dolphin’s Tale was rescued and rehabilitated.

In the afternoon we took a boat trip on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise and in the evening, enjoyed the sunset, a market and a lovely meal.

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise, Clearwater, Florida

Captain Memo Pirate Cruise

Day 9

We moved again to St Pete Beach and our final hotel – RumFish Beach Resort.

Enjoying the beach at RumFish Beach Resort, St Pete, Florida

Enjoying the beach at RumFish

Our room opened out on to the beach and we enjoyed water slides and zip wires and an evening’s magic show.

Day 10

We headed into St Petersburg to enjoy its pier, markets, museums and laid-back harbour vibe and our final lunch overlooking the water before a last beautiful Florida sunset. For more ideas on what to do in Clearwater and St Pete, read our guide to the best attractions for families.

Sunset at St Beach beach, Florida

Sunset

Day 11

After pancakes for breakfast, we left for our flight home.

What do you like to do in Florida? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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*We received complimentary or reduced prices for some of the attractions and hotels, for review purposes, all views are our own.