The biggest wrestling weekend of the year is upon us as WrestleMania 33, this year dubbed “The Ultimate Thrill Ride” in honor of its location, descends upon Orlando, Florida’s Camping World Stadium (the former Citrus Bowl.) The show, set to be headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg and Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker, joins a myriad of other WWE events over the course of the week including the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, NXT Takeover: Orlando, Raw, Smackdown Live, and WrestleMania Fan Axxess. This in addition to indy shows, Wrestlecon, meet & greets, and hard ticketed wrestler parties and live shows all over the Orlando area. Even wrestling websites are in on the fun as members of our own Place to Be Nation will be meeting up in Orlando.
The majority of events take place on International Drive, or I-Drive for short, which is the main tourist drag in Orlando. The Orange County Convention Center, home of WWE Axxess and The Wrestlecon hotel, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, are on I-Drive as well as Universal Orlando Resort, Seaworld, The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, and tons of other hotels and motels, every chain restaurant you’ve ever heard of, and plenty of tourist traps. At the southern end, I-Drive connects with World Center drive, one of the main thoroughfares through the Walt Disney World Resort.
Whether you are staying at the heart of WrestleMania activity on I-Drive or at a Walt Disney World Resort (or somewhere else along I-4 between Disney World and Universal) you will be within a short cab or Uber ride to any tourist destination you desire. Camping World Stadium, where WrestleMania actually takes place, and the Amway Center (home of the Hall of Fame, NXT, Raw, and Smackdown) are located a bit further up I-4 from the tourist zone. The only inconveniently located events are those surrounding Ring of Honor’s Festival of Honor, including Supercard of Honor. They are being held at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, FL, roughly an hour south of Orlando.
A rough estimate of distances is below:
The Orlando Live Events Center, home of shows including SHIMMER, EVOLVE, PROGRESS, and Kaiju Big Battel is located roughly 20 minutes north of Camping World Stadium on I-4. For an estimate of time to that venue, add 20 minutes to the distance to Camping World Stadium from all locations.
Also note that, in addition to the times stated on this chart, one hour should be allotted to get from the main entrance of any Walt Disney World theme park and your Walt Disney World resort using the park’s transportation system. You should also allow 30 minutes to leave Disney Springs, 20 minutes to depart the parks of Universal Orlando, and 15 minutes to leave Citywalk. You should plan to arrive at Camping World Stadium before 4pm on Wrestlemania Sunday and plan to arrive at all other events 30 minutes before gate opening to ensure a smooth arrival into the venue by the start time. Camping World Stadium parking lots open at 11:30am for all you tailgaters and there is a clear bag policy in place similar to the NFL and many other big events/sports. Details are on Camping World Stadium’s website.
Traffic on International Drive is notoriously horrible at morning and afternoon rush hour but could be a bottleneck at all hours of the day. Traffic is also known to back up in the area of Disney Springs in the evening, however Disney has made some infrastructure improvements in the last year to cut down on some of the congestion.
Theme park touring is a possibility during the day Sunday before Wrestlemania and on any of the mornings/afternoons, especially Monday and Tuesday if you are staying in town for Raw and Smackdown. Guests with multi-day passes for Disney should consider visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom as both parks can easily be toured in a half-day. If you will only be visiting one or two parks for half-days (ie. no full day visits) Magic Kingdom and Epcot are probably the better options. Magic Kingdom has the most rides and attractions that can be experienced, making it the best “bang for your buck” option while Epcot, with its emphasis on food and drink as well as rides, is a great choice for a festive “tailgate” atmosphere. Both Universal Orlando parks are located much closer to Wrestlemania events than Walt Disney World, making them also great options for half-day touring before a nighttime show.
Disney Springs (the former Downtown Disney) and Universal CityWalk are also great options for pre-Mania activities as no separate admission is required. Consider a tailgate with bowling, food and adult beverages at Splitsville Lanes at Disney Springs or perhaps keep up with MLB opening day at NBC Sports Grill & Brews at CityWalk. Many nationally known sports bar chains have locations on I-Drive including Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, and Dave & Busters.
Other touring tips:
- Walt Disney World sit-down restaurants are notoriously hard to get a table at as a “walk up.” If you plan on meeting up before any of the shows at a Walt Disney World establishment, especially if it will be a large group, go to DisneyWorld.com now and search for a table at your desired time to make sure you can get a seat somewhere. Bars at Disney Springs and the resort hotels will be able to accommodate walk-ups for drinks and food but might be uncomfortable for groups of more than four. Universal Orlando parks close between 8pm and 9pm all weekend. During that time, all Citywalk restaurants and bars will become inundated with patrons. It is imperative to arrive there before 7pm to avoid the worst of the rush. However this should not be an issue if you are visiting before a nighttime wrestling show.
- Almost everything at Walt Disney World shuts down at midnight. The only dining option you are likely to find open after midnight is the food court at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, which is convenient if you are in the Magic Kingdom area at night but wholly inconvenient in almost any other circumstance. If you have your own transportation, a stop at one of the many chains on I-Drive is likely the best bet for late night dining after Wrestlemania or any of the weekend’s other shows.
- Don’t forget to book your Fastpass+ reservations for early in the morning, especially of half-day park visits. The sooner you use your pre-booked Fastpass+, the sooner you can book more. Headline attractions are likely already booked at this point but a few Fastpass+ reservations, regardless of what for, will save you valuable minutes on a shortened park visit.
- Forecast for Orlando on Sunday is cloudy and 93 degrees. You might need to slather on the Coppertone but you should definitely stay hydrated. Especially if you are planning an all-day theme park trip and/or tailgate before ‘Mania.
- Make sure to have fun with the wrestling fans you encounter at the parks and around the World. There are only a few weekends per year when you can truly feel “cool” as a wrestling fan and this is one of them. Just remember to keep the magic for all the non-wrestling fans visiting too, especially the kids. We could probably save the Stone Cold salutes and DX chops for inside Camping World Stadium.