If “Orlando vacation” makes you think of tacky souvenirs and mouse ears, think again. The City Beautiful is turning into The City Cthulhu-ful as Orlando becomes a destination for gamers, comic-book nerds and pop-culture enthusiasts. Add these places to your vacation itinerary and get your geek on.
1. Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Muggles can finally experience the magic in this recreation of Harry Potter’s universe. At Platform 9 3/4, climb aboard the Hogwarts Express to travel between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Browse the enchanted shops, choose a wand at Ollivanders — or let the wand choose you — and have some butterbeer while checking the latest Quidditch scores.
BART, located in downtown Orlando, intersects the Venn diagram of passion for craft beers and old-school arcade games from the 1970s-1990s. Sip on an OBP Toasted Coconut Porter while getting it on like Donkey Kong. Don’t worry if you’re a beer novice – the BARTenders will help you choose your brew.
3. The Geek Easy
Tucked away inside A Comic Shop, in a strip mall in Winter Park, the Geek Easy is a popular venue for geek-culture music acts, with live performances by local favorites. Regular events include Geeky Trivia and Nerdy Karaoke nights, open mics and campy movie screenings. Come for the Super Mario Bros-inspired decor, stay for the Tetris-shaped tater tots.
4. Gods & Monsters
Located in Artegon Marketplace on International Drive, Orlando’s largest comic store offers a wide variety of pop culture memorabilia, high-end comic-related toys and original art. Gods & Monsters also features ample seating areas for tabletop gamers and free-to-play games for visitors.
5. Orlando Science Center
If you’re more into Neil deGrasse Tyson than Neil Gaiman, take a trek to the Orlando Science Center for some real science fun. The OSC features nature exhibits, a planetarium and observatory, and seasonal laser light shows for anyone craving a little Laser Zeppelin.
No geeky getaway is complete without a visit to Walt Disney World’s home for technological innovation. From Mission: Space to World Showcase, this never-ending world’s fair is a mecca for nerds of all kinds. Epcot’s epic IllumiNations light show, featuring fireworks, lasers and LED screens, will spoil you for all other firework shows.
7. Escape Rooms
The escape-room boom has arrived, with numerous locations popping up around International Drive, home of the largest selection of hotels in Orlando. Escape the Florida heat while immersed in a live-action locked-room game at Escapology or It’s a Trap. Work with teammates to solve clues and challenges in hour-long story-driven scenarios.
So let your geek flag fly, and consider planning a geeky getaway this summer.