Itinerant Fan

Amway Center

The city of Orlando is known the world over for Walt Disney World and all the other amusements and family-friendly activities available there. With so much to do there, you might think there’s not much room for spectator sports on the agenda, but thanks to the Magic and Amway Center, the NBA is a big draw and a worthy reason to get away from the theme parks for at least a few hours.

Over the years, the Magic have entertained their faithful with two distinctly notable eras built around two dynamic centers — first Shaquille O’Neal, then Dwight Howard — that each produced a trip to the NBA Finals, but neither resulted in a championship. Though Magic fans are still waiting for that title, they can still watch an up-and-coming team in a beautiful, modern arena that’s part of a burgeoning district of downtown.

The Magic aren’t the only attraction at Amway Center, either — the Orlando Solar Bears minor-league hockey team plays home games there, and it’s a popular attraction for major concerts and other shows.

For visitors, getting to Amway Center requires a bit of a detour from all the other touristy things going on in the region. Find out more below.

The approach: Getting to Amway Center

Most of Orlando’s theme parks lie well west of downtown, and in Walt Disney World’s case, it’s more than 20 miles away and not even within the city limits (it’s located in a Disney-created town called Lake Buena Vista). If family fun is part of the reason you’re in the area and you’re staying in one of the many hotels located near one of the amusement parks, getting to Amway Center requires a quick drive eastbound on Interstate 4 toward downtown — the arena is easily visible on the west side as the highway cuts through the downtown area, and exit at South Street. For more detailed driving directions, click here.

The same directions hold true if you’re attending a convention in Orlando, another big draw for the city — the massive Orange County Convention Center lies alongside I-4 about 10 miles south of downtown, and many hotels are located near the convention center.

Once you’re downtown, you can find ample parking around the arena, including two structures attached or adjacent to it. Private lots can be found around downtown Orlando, particularly the area immediately to the east of the arena (on the other side of I-4). Advance-purchase parking is available via Ticketmaster; click here for more Amway Center parking information and here for info on parking around downtown Orlando.

If you’re not coming from the theme-park area, Orlando’s SunRail train system is a viable option for getting to the game. The train runs a north-south route with a stop at Church Street, a block from the arena. One-way fares range from $2 to $4 depending on distance traveled.

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The build-up: Things to do around Amway Center

Downtown Orlando, like many other downtowns around the country, has enjoyed an influx of new residents in recent years thanks to a building boom, and as a result there’s more nightlife and activity in the blocks near Amway Center. Just be sure to go to the other side of Interstate 4 to get to the main downtown area, which includes restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more.

Click here for a glimpse at the selection of restaurants downtown, which tends to be more upscale than the chain options that tend to proliferate near the theme parks. Popular pregame options include Hamburger Mary’s and The Rusty Spoon, both located on Church Street next to the SunRail station.

The ambiance: Watching a game at Amway Center

Amway Center is appreciably big for an NBA arena, much bigger than the building it replaced, the Orlando Arena (which once stood about a mile north of the current arena before being demolished in 2012). The large glass facade that faces Church Street serves as the main entrance, accented by a spire at one corner of the arena that lights up in the Magic’s blue and silver colors on game nights. Church Street is typically blocked off to traffic and turned into a plaza for pregame activities as well.

After entering, fans must ascend stairs or escalators to reach the main concourse (known here as the Terrace Level). You can also check out your concessions choices here, which range from the Florida favorite Cuban sandwich to gyros, sushi, pizza from Papa John’s and ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. Click here for a complete list of concessions at Amway Center.

Also notable at Amway Center is the number of sit-down restaurants, bars and lounges inside. Many are limited to fans holding club-level tickets but one, the Budweiser Baseline Bar on the Terrace Level, is worth checking out for everyone — it opens up to the seating bowl and offers standing-room views of the game. There’s also a lounge located at the top of the arena, within the spire structure, that opens to all patrons at the conclusion of games.

Going to Amway Center can take on a club-like atmosphere, but the game remains the centerpiece. Despite the building’s size, sight lines are terrific in the upper deck for all sports (in addition to the Magic, minor-league hockey and arena football teams call the arena home). When the building opened, it boasted the largest center-hung scoreboard in the NBA, though that has since been surpassed by several arenas as large horizontal screens have come into vogue.

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    The Particulars

    Home Teams
    Orlando Magic

    400 West Church St.
    Orlando, FL 32801

    Year Opened


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