It really is the end of an era. Arabian Nights, the Kissimmee dinner show with performing horses and a royal story line, will close at the end of December after 25 years of entertaining tourists and residents, owner Mark Miller announced Friday.
Miller said the attraction’s revenue could no longer support the kind of show he wanted to present. “Unfortunately, we have reached a point where the marketplace demands a cheaper product than we can provide,” he said.
Over the years, the attraction, which opened in 1988, has presented 10,000 performances for 10 million visitors, Miller said. The final performance will be on New Year’s Eve.
Set in a horseshoe-shaped arena with a dirt floor, the Arabian Nights show spotlights Al-Marah Arabian horses with acrobatic riders. Customers, who pay $66.99 for general admission, eat dinner in stands surrounding the action. The show was freshened with new acts and narrative during the summer and dubbed “The Royal Celebration,” a story about a romantic merger of two Bedouin kingdoms.
But despite the changes, Miller said, the numbers were no longer adding up. Ticket wholesalers, which handle the bulk of Arabian Nights’ sales, would no longer pay enough for the blocks of seats they purchased, Miller said.
Most of the attraction’s 224 employees — from horse trainers to servers — will lose their jobs, Miller said, though a small crew will remain for maintenance and other business needs.
Miller, who grew up in a family that bred Arabian horses, said the company’s 40 horses will move to an 80-acre farm he has purchased. He also said he will explore other uses for the Arabian Nights building and will consider selling the land, which is off West U.S. Highway 192.
Beth Walters of Clermont was one of those who enjoyed Arabian Nights. She said she had taken her children there several times in recent years and found the show, food and service to be high-quality, she said.
“Some of the acrobatic activity that they did on top of the horses or while they were galloping was very impressive,” she said.
Her kids, now teenagers, were able to see the horses up close after the show, she said. “That was their favorite part.”
For the rest of the year, fans will be able to see a Christmas version of the Arabian Nights show — and at a discount, Miller said.
“We know a lot of Central Florida residents will want to see the show before we close, and we are offering them half-price admission.”