Around Osceola

It’s time for one last supper at Arabian Nights. Residents can get in for half-price during final days.

Posted on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:01 am

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By Peter Covino
A&E Editor
It was an emotional day at Arabian Nights, the dinner show attraction  featuring horses and performers in a colorful show that has been  one of the major attractions along Osceola County’s busy U.S. Highway 192 tourism corridor.
But in just about two more weeks, the curtain will permanently come down on a show that has been around for 25 years and for more than 10,000 performances.
Our server, Brenda, who has worked at Arabian Nights for more than ten years, wasn’t quite fighting back tears, but as the show’s final day approaches, tears will be inevitable.
Like many of the serving staff at Arabian Nights, working at the show is more than a job.
“We are like family,” she said. Indeed, two of Brenda’s children have worked at Arabian Nights and her 15-year old daughter had been hoping to join the team in a few years.
The dinner show staff have a Facebook page devoted to Arabian Nights alumni so she says she will not lose contact with the many friends she has made.
Meanwhile, the official Arabian Nights Facebook was full of comments of fans who have been to the show numerous times or worked there.
“This is absolutely depressing,” said Emily Asbury. “I grew up going with my family several times every year. It really was a place of wonder and fed my imagination and love for horses immensely.”
“Regardless of what age I am or how many times I’ve been, going never failed to make fall in love with the show every time. I feel so terribly sad that I’ll never be able to see it again. Thank you for so many years of a wonderful  show.”
Or Jack Barnes, who commented:
“The show along with the backstage tour was better than Disney World! So sorry to hear this news. Arabian Nights forever.”
One of the most asked questions to Arabian Nights officials is what will happen to the horses?
“The horses are family too,” said Arden Tilghman, Arabian Nights CEO, and they will be well taken care of.
“The horses are the heart and soul of our family,” she said. Some of the horses that perform are owned by the performers, but most belong to show founder and owner Mark Miller and his family.
Miller has a horse farm in Clermont and after the show closes its doors, the horses will be transported there, she said.
As for the rest of Arabian Nights’ 200-plus employees, the company is doing everything it can to assist in finding employment elsewhere, Tilghman said.
“Our goal is to place all of our employees,” she said.
Tilghman said she was as surprised as everyone when Miller announced Arabian Nights would be closing a few weeks ago.
The dinner show recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and apparently had weathered the bad economic times and seemed to be healthy economically.
But too much of the market was about deeply discounted tickets and it was becoming increasingly difficult to stay profitable without cutting costs that would affect the quality of the show, she said.
The show has won numerous awards through the years, including the 2013 Best Dinner Show Award from the Orlando Sentinel.
“It has been an honor sharing my passion for the beauty and magic of horses with people from all walks of life over the last 25 years,” Miller said recently. “Unfortunately, we have reached a point where the marketplace demands a cheaper product than we can provide.”
Like so many employees at Arabian Nights, Tilghman has been with the company for a long time.
She started more than ten years in the stables grooming the horses, and worked her way to become Arabian Nights chief executive.
“There is sadness,” at the show now, Tilghman said, and it is reflective of the close relationships developed by staff and performers.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “We are having fun too during the last month here because we are family.”
Meanwhile, the show will go on until Dec. 31.
The Arabian Nights Chrismas-themed show will continue until the end of the year.
Just like the usual evening show, the Christmas show features the Arabian Nights performers on and off horseback doing a full show.
The show center has been transformed into a winter wonderland with holiday lights and decorations in a show dominated by traditional and modern holiday favorites. You can take a peek at the holiday show at the News-Gazette website at http://bcove.me/perky76u.
Of course, the show includes  a full dinner (entree, sides, dessert, soft drinks, coffee). There are several choices for both the entrees and dessert.
While the news is sad for the many people who have seen and enjoyed Arabian Nights for the past 25 years (officials say more than 10 million have seen the show since it first opened) there is some good news if you want to see the show one last time: Arabian Nights is offering a 50 percent discount off the regular price Central Florida residents for the attractions last days.
The regular admission price is $66.99 for guests.
You can book online at http://www.arabian-nights.com/ticket-options or call 800 553-6116.
Space Coast dining
Looking for a pre-Christmas getaway?
From now through Dec. 19, the Space Coast is offering  three-course meal for just $20 per person during the Space Coast’s all-new Savor Our Space dining and hotel promotion.
With a minimum two-night stay in one of 50-plus hotels on Florida’s Space Coast, guests will receive a VIP Pass for a three-course meal at one of 17 participating restaurants along Brevard County’s 72 miles of shoreline.
The VIP Pass is valid for up to four guts who can choose an appetizer or salad, entrée and dessert from a select menu that features local, fresh-caught seafood straight from the waters off the Space Coast, as well as steak, pork, chicken and pasta. All of the dishes have been created by local Space Coast chefs.
Florida’s Space Coast includes Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Palm Bay and Titusville.  For more information or to make a reservation for Savor Our Space, visit www.SavorOurSpace.com
Taste Caribbean
A Taste of the Caribbean, an evening of island food, music and dance will be held at the Barney Veal Center in Kissimmee, Jan. 4.
The $25 ticket includes  food and entertainment. A portion of the proceeds go the Council on Aging Meals on Wheels program.
Doors open at 6 p.m. For tickets call 407-279-7104 or 407-319-0659.
Clearwater Beach Uncorked
Clearwater Beach Uncorked is proud to announce its third annual food and wine extravaganza to be held on February 8 and 9, 2014, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., beachside in front of Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa.
Acclaimed event producer Tammy Gail was inspired to create a high-end luxury affair to showcase the marvel and beauty of Florida’s West Coast. She says of her vision, “It was our mission and goal to once again put Clearwater Beach on the map as a premier vacation spot and foodie destination.” This year, Bright House, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa, Publix, the City of Clearwater, Visit St. Pete Clearwater, Gulf Seafood, Clearwater Beach Chamber, Clearwater Regional Chamber and Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber will join together to present Clearwater Beach Uncorked and welcome an anticipated 5,500 guests for this two-day gastronomic affair.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will offer the perfect pre-Valentine’s Day beach weekend filled with an extensive array of sweet and savory samplings complemented by an impressive selection of wines, spirits and craft beers from around the globe. South Gulfview Boulevard’s transformation will encourage guests to venture between the one-of-a-kind Uncorked Spirits Beach Bar and the Grand Tasting Village to meet and mingle with wine specialists, vintners and brew masters and the area’s best and brightest chefs. The Grand Tasting Village will include delicious samplings from the area’s top restaurants, wine from more than 100 wineries and an exciting array of micro-brews and craft beers. Guests can also slip away to the Uncorked Spirits Beach Club to capture a breathtaking view and sample spirits that will satisfy any tastemaker’s palate. This year a decadent dessert tent will showcase Bubbles on the Beach, featuring bubbles, sweets, pastries and all things rich and gooey just in time for Valentine’s Day. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will be a weekend-long epicurean experience allowing guests to explore the relaxed and delicious facets of Clearwater Beach.

Guests will have the option of purchasing general admission tickets for $85 or opt for a premium VIP experience, available on Saturday, for $125. VIP access will grant epicureans and influencers an exceptional VIP area with exclusive restaurants and reserve wines, single malt whiskeys and rare scotches. They will also receive an extravagant Clearwater Beach Uncorked swag bag with the latest in food, fashion and beauty. Tickets are currently on sale at www.clearwaterbeachuncorked.com.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership. Funds will be used to develop academic programs, scholarships, research grants and campus infrastructure. Clearwater Beach Uncorked has also partnered with USFSM’s College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership to implement an educational component incorporating Clearwater Beach Uncorked into the student’s fall curriculum. Students are competing against each other to develop unique marketing initiatives, and the winners’ ideas will be implemented at this year’s event.

About Clearwater Beach Uncorked:
Clearwater Beach Uncorked is the vision from luxury event producer Tammy Gail and a collaborative effort between presenting sponsors: Bright House, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa, Publix and the City of Clearwater. The goal is to create a weekend destination event designed to offer a sampling of the area’s best restaurants and amenities to event guests while showcasing local and national chefs, vintners, fine spirits and delightful desserts. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will attract thousands of culinary enthusiasts throughout the weekend of February 8 and 9, 2014, for the finest beachside food, wine and spirits sampling events on Florida’s West Coast.  For more information, visit www.clearwaterbeachuncorked.com.

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