I was able to make a second trip to Amway Center for opening night and the blowout gave me an opportunity to explore a little more of the Magic’s new home. Be sure to check out my first review of the Amway Center.
My first trip to the Amway Center I was still something of a rookie, taking it all in. You do literally need a first outing so you can take it all in before you start focusing on the game. And there is plenty to be distracted with.
So I felt more like an expert — and a little more focused on the game — for my second trip. I was far from it. There is so much to explore inside the Amway Center and so many new things the Magic will do.
It is an amazing facility and overall the response to it is positive. There will be lots of good memories in there and a lot of the problems from Amway Arena were completely solved (try and find a bathroom you can’t get into at any point of the game besides halftime).
The coolest thing on opening night was by far the intro video (above). Evan Dunlap of Orlando Pinstriped Post said he got choked up a bit as the team played a montage of classic Magic moments portrayed on the facades of Orlando buildings, and it was very moving to those that have been with the team for the entire history of the franchise. Then it happened.
Watch the video above. After the video montage ends the entire scoreboard, the largest in the country, turning into one gigantic hi-def screen. And unlike Cowboys Stadium, the Magic’s scoreboard is front and center and in your face. When it changed from the single screen to one gigantic screen, it was difficult not to have your jaw drop. It showed the technological power inside this new building. I hope that is something the team keeps up the rest of the season.
That was the really good thing about the arena. We know its technology is second-to-none, its concourses are wide and spacious, the seats are comfortable (or more comfortable than Amway Arena’s) and there a plenty of amenities to serve the fan’s every need.
But I am starting to hear complaints about the arena. Some of them are things that are just part of the new wave of arena-building (much like the Amway Arena was a product of how arenas were built at the time). I heard one person complain about the number of stairs it takes to get to the lower bowl. And it is a lot of stairs from the main concourse. I mean a lot of stairs. It is not like Amway Arena where you are walking down an open aisle, you are walking down a hallway down to the lower bowl. And it certainly feels a lot longer than the stairs at the Amway Arena.
Getting up to the O-Zone is pretty easy though. You just take the big escalators from the Disney Atrium. Just don’t take the stairs (like I did to get up there at the end of the game to check it out… it is a really long hike).
The sentiment I had when I sat in the bowl though was a feeling that is frankly missing from the new arena. And this is definitely a by-product of how arenas are built nowadays.
Amway Center does not feel as intimate at Amway Arena. Amway Arena was built with rows upon rows built on top of each other. That is how an arena can get built when there are no mid-level luxury suites. Those suites definitely create a different stadium design.
Is it going to trap noise like Amway Arena? That is a question that has not been answered yet. The Magic finished the Wizards in quick order.
Mostly everything else is good. Click after the jump for more.
There are times when we all wish we were still kids. Man, I wish I were still a kid because Stuff’s Magic Castle is a freaking sweet playground.
There is a slide. And a jungle gym. And baskets you can dunk on. And very cool computerized gaming centers. And video games. It has everything a parent could want for a kid to be doing while they are doing something else (parental supervision is highly recommended though).
Very good idea from the designers to put this feature in. Looks like a lot of fun.
For the adults, it is very close to the O3 bar and the OZone area. It is a full-service bar in the upper level of the stadium and provides a decent view of the court (once you get over your head spinning from the potential vertigo). The view is not bad, but it is what you get for a seat that high.
Your better bet is to watch the game from the Budweiser Baseline Bar. You can easily access any part of the arena via the stairs (they are hidden, but if you find them you can go anywhere in the building) and stand at the end of the lower bowl at the bar. As long as it is not too busy, I am sure you can stand there all game. Expect that to be standing room only seating for the big games and the playoffs though. It is another good end zone view of the action.
The one thing the Magic did a very good job of is making sure you can see the action from almost anywhere in the arena. You get to look at the court (or at least see it on TV or hear it on the radio over speakers) and be plugged into the action from almost anywhere. Have to love that.
The last thing I want to mention is the Orlando Magic Team shop (or as I would like to petition to call it the Orlando Magic Fan Attic). It is great to finally have a team-specific shop for Magic fans. But I was not incredibly impressed with the selection and the shop is kind of narrow, tucked into a corner beneath the main spire. I have been to a lot of other team stores and they are usually full-scale stores that feature racks of jerseys — including bench warmers and even throwbacks of former players.
It is good to have a team store, but I honestly expected more. Some of the retail areas around the stadium honestly have a better selection.
That is it for my reviews of Amway Center. Time to get serious about what is going on in the court. Let me know what you think about the stadium in the comments below or on Twitter @OMagicDaily.