Mango’s Orlando launches new show in last sign of I-Drive takeover

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  • Image via Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando
  • Dancers in the new Mango’s Live show

Despite another new variant threatening to upend the progress the travel industry has seen in recent months, there is new optimism in the air in the tourist district of Orlando.

Construction is active on the Epic Universe site and conventions are slowly starting to return. The takeover of International Drive can also be seen at one of its most famous dinner shows.

Mango’s Tropical Café started welcoming guests almost six months ago. Yet without the convention crowds, there was less demand for special event spaces and large dinners. Most of the dining room remained dark as owner Joshua Wallack focused instead of just the nightclub model, the venue previously only operated late at night. Numerous concerts and special events have helped draw crowds to the venue, minus the large-scale dinner shows that made Mango’s famous.

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Joshua Wallack, Founder and Owner of Mango's Tropical Cafe Orlando - IMAGE VIA MANGO'S TROPICAL CAFE ORLANDO

  • Image via Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando
  • Joshua Wallack, Founder and Owner of Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando

That changed last week when after a hiatus of more than twenty months, a newly redesigned dinner show debuted before a packed house of local celebrities and dignitaries, including several local politicians.

Wallack is quick to admit that the only reason the reopening was made possible is because of federal pandemic relief funds.

“The last time I saw this show live on stage was March 16, 2020. God bless America for the last two presidents; one adopted the closed site grant and the other extended it. Thanks to this, a place like Mango can be reborn, with live musicians and performers, ”he said.

Unlike many other small businesses, Mango’s, which is family owned and operated, chose not to use the Paycheck Protection Program loans in the hope that other options would allow them to reopen. This was done in the form of two SBA grants focused on operators of closed live theaters. In Orlando, Mango’s received more than $ 6.3 million, one of the city’s largest grants, rivaled only by venues in the city’s downtown core.

Thinking back to the reopening process, Wallack says these are the most difficult projects he has ever undertaken and one of the most difficult times in Mango’s decades-long history.

“After our last [Orlando] On March 16, 2020, I posted on my social media: “Ultimately, the love you take equals the love you make.” I wasn’t sure if we were going to be open again someday. I certainly didn’t imagine it would take almost two years, ”he said. “I mean, my God, how can a small business last that long? So we really made some strong strategic moves. You know my dad and I stayed together on everything. It was difficult not to take the PPP loans and to go and seek the grants for the closed sites. Getting these gives us a chance to lift ourselves up again with this amazing show that we are seeing right now, Mango’s Live.

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A set of Michael Jackson from the new show Mango's Live - IMAGE VIA MANGO'S TROPICAL CAFE ORLANDO

  • Image via Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando
  • A Michael Jackson set from the new Mango’s Live show

According to Wallack’s estimate, the Mango team must have dedicated over six hundred hours to the application process.

“We were eternally grateful to the United States government on both sides of the aisle for coming together to see how the live events industry has been decimated by COVID-19,” he said. declared. “It was an extinction level event for many, many small businesses.

With cash in hand, Wallack was able to rehire many artists who had been on leave since last spring. He also brought in new work for several of the ancillary trades needed to successfully revive the dinner show format.

The new show features a cast of nearly two dozen and includes a dizzying number of costume changes. The previous show, rich in Latin music, was similar to the South Beach version. With sets dedicated to Queen, Lady Gaga and Kris Kross, this new show is definitely more geared towards the diverse but US-dominated clientele that Orlando attracts.

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The new Mango’s Live, more focused on pop music, comes as Orlando’s tourism industry continues to be predominantly driven by domestic leisure travel.

“We are seeing a tremendous upturn in leisure travel; I think home entertainment is the strongest thing right now, ”Wallack explained. “People are completely out of place from other typical destinations, like New York or LA, so they come to Orlando. Disney World is crowded; every weekend you see it. That and we don’t even really have international travelers. I mean, we’ve barely got a bit of a comeback, let alone conventions and business travelers.

Despite the lack of traffic near the convention center, many parts of the tourist district seem to be bouncing back. Just down the street, Mango’s two thrill rides get their finishing touches before opening in just a few days. The two new rides at ICON Park are located near the Orlando Ripley Odditorium, which used the slowdown to redo completely.

Joshua Wallack’s next big business will soon join the already rapidly changing skyline of the tourist district. A record-breaking dynamic art digital display will begin to be installed on the north and west walls of Hollywood Plaza which is adjacent to Mango’s in the coming weeks. The steel for the new sign is being installed and more than five hundred anchor holes must be installed in the structure of the parking lot.

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Concept art, as seen in the permit application, sent to Orange County.  Package 36-23-28-3787-00-010 - IMAGE VIA THE ORANGE COUNTY |  AOA

  • Image via Orange County | AOA
  • Concept art, as seen in the permit application, sent to Orange County. Package 36-23-28-3787-00-010

For Wallack and most tourist districts, the emphasis is now on learning to extreme situation the past two years while preparing to once again welcome all visitors to The City Beautiful. Towards the end of the conversation with the Orlando Weekly, Wallack explained to his future tenant of the Hollywood garage why Mango’s could reopen.

“With September 11 and in 2008, we saw a drop in activity, but we never went down to zero. With the pandemic, we have gone to zero. We had to put everyone on leave. It was terrible… Some of the things we were reading in 2020 were apocalyptic, ”he said,“ We’re so grateful that Florida, run by Disney World and Universal, really tried to find a way to bring back the people to have fun again safely. ”

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