MurderWatch Mystery Dinner Theater
by Dave Marx and Jennifer Watson, Authors of PassPorter Travel Guides
Weve been hoping to attend this staple of Orlandos dinner theater scene for many years, and finally had our chance this past December. Your evening begins, middles and ends at Baskervilles, the buffet restaurant at the Grosvenor Resort on Walt Disney Worlds Hotel Plaza Blvd. (see our report on the Grosvenor). As dinner progresses, guests meet some of the entertainers and various suspicious characters who will play a part in the mystery to come. You may have a chance to chat with characters, enjoy a song from a sexy chanteuse, witness an emotional outburst from a jealous boyfriend, or spy suspicious behavior from some very shifty characters. Sure enough, by the time youve finished dessert, a heinous crime has been committed, and everyone in the audience has been recruited to help solve the mystery.
Wed rather not spill the beans on the specifics of a mystery that we ultimately failed to solve (other guests had that honor). In fact, the producers of the show have developed a variety of mysteries, so that even repeat "sleuths" will find a new challenge (or at least a new twist) with each visit. What we can say is that we were on our own for most of the investigation, but when it finally came time to assemble the clues and solve the case, diners were divided into several teams. Members of the winning team received modest prizes, along with the satisfaction of a case well-solved.
The guests around us seemed to be having a good time, and we "pros" also were engaged and entertained. We think in terms of entertainment value, food quality and overall satisfaction, MurderWatch Mystery Dinner Theater ranks behind Disneys Hoop de Doo Revue, but can hold its own against Disneys Polynesian Luau, and beats Medieval Times hands down. Why? The show at Hoop de Doo, corny though it may be, is loaded with high energy entertainment value, and the audience gets roped into all the merriment. The dinner is simple, all-you-can eat fried chicken, ribs and fixins, but its a crowd-pleaser. The show at the Luau (although its due to be overhauled) isnt nearly as entertaining, and few guests are pleased by the all-you-can-eat Polynesian dinner. Medieval Times in Kissimmee is definitely not our cup of mead. The show starts impressively, with pageantry and showmanship, but we detest the way the evenings entertainment descends into its gratuitously middle and end (tournament combat doesnt have to be "to the death"). In the end, the shows most likely to entertain professional wrestling fans. On top of that, the food and service is the bare minimum needed to satisfy the audience. Not only was the food mediocre, but I was still hungry at the end. MurderWatch, in its plain hotel dining room setting, feels a little down-scale compared to the Disney shows, but the good humor and enthusiasm of the cast, and the engaging plot make for a very enjoyable evening. Similarly, though we dont give the buffet a high rating (see Grosvenor review), most guests will be happier with this traditional menu than with the Luaus uninspired offerings.
MurderWatch Mystery Dinner Theater is
held twice on Saturday evenings at the Grosvenor Resort, on Hotel Plaza Blvd., just across
the street from Downtown Disney. Guests at Disney resorts can take the bus to the Downtown
Disney Marketplace stop, and cross Buena Vista Blvd. near the Once Upon a Toy shop. The
Grosvenor is the first hotel on the left (north) side of Hotel Plaza Blvd. Tickets are
$35/adult, $15/child. Call 800-624-4109 for reservations or visit http://www.murderwatch.com.