A new feature here at TAM will be the periodic review of movie theaters, primarily focusing on those in the Central Florida area. The first one to be reviewed happens to be the latest to open in Orlando: the Plaza Cinema Cafe.
The Plaza is a return of movies to downtown Orlando and a first for me since I moved here in 1995. Imagined as part of a large living/shopping conglomerate of three buildings in the Church/Orange block where Terror on Church Street and SAK Comedy Lab once called home, the Plaza almost never came to pass. The developer who put together the complex, like many others, ending up filing for bankruptcy when the real estate bubble burst. Over the course of three years, rumors swirled that Regal or AMC were going to still put in a theater. AMC came the closest, but the deal fell through at the last minute.
Enter a private company that wanted to bring “experience” back into the term “movie experience.” With so many chains trying to pass of fake IMAX screens, the plaza chose to go for luxury and comfort. As you walk in, you notice a silence not found in the big chains. Somehow, a lot of people found ways to carry on conversations without screaming. The concession stand has the usual offerings, but what is very nice is the availability of sandwiches and other “foods” that could make a decent meal if you had to rush to the theater. One note is that a “Large” in popcorn or drink is equivalent to a “Medium” or “Small” at AMC and Regal.
In addition to the main concession stand, there is a bar located at each end of the theater. Between the three stations, one can get beer and wine to enjoy during the movie. The decor overall is that the Plaza is meant to be not just a place to see movies, but also a place to meet and socialize. The staff I encountered was very friendly and able to quickly answer any questions I might have. It also appears that the Plaza has overcome its early difficulties of posting correct showtimes on its website. The only negative that I have is that the audio in the theater I was in was abnormally loud; the proof not being a preference issue, but a “it’s so loud that the speakers are buzzing and popping” loudness. Unfortunately I did not see anyone after the movie that I could inform.
The reason for my particular visit was a program that I hope the Plaza continues: featuring arthouse and independent movies. I had received a weblink to see The Brothers Bloom for free. Even though admission was free, I still supported the theater by purchasing concessions (where the real profit margin is). A theater complex that can balance having independent movies as well as current hits is one that will be around for a long time.
My advice: Take in a show and enjoy the experience…