Creating  memorable family moments at Orlando's Universal CityWalk

photo credit Autism TravelingMom Margalit Francus

My son, Jeff, has long wanted to see the Blue Man Group, despite my concerns that autism and The Blue Man Group would not go together well. I feared that the sensory overload that is a Blue Man Group performance would be overwhelming for Jeff, who is somewhat noise sensitive. It turned out to be just fine for Jeff. As for me? I was the one who was overwhelmed by the sensory overload.

TMOM disclosure graphic

For those of you who have never seen the show, it is an innovative interpretation on social communication presented on stage with no dialogue. The actors communicate among themselves and with the audience through mime and rhythm.

autism and the blue man group

Photo credit: Margalit Francus / Autism Travelingmom

We booked the Blue Man Group show as a birthday surprise for Jeff during our visit to Universal Orlando.

While I felt sensory overload from the noisy drumming, strobe lights and even food particles thrown on the audience (in jest), our son thought the show was funny and highly entertaining. He savored every minute.

Jeff especially liked the ending when the lit-up stick figures describe themselves as 2D and try to reach a compromise with the 3D characters  to create 2.5 D persons.

Moreover, he explained that he identified with the blue men and their unsuccessful quest to bond with others, since he has faced similar challenges in his own life.

Where to Eat Before the Show

We got primed for the show with dinner beforehand at one of the new eateries that opened this year, right across from the show’s venue for an early dinner. It is none other than Vivo Italian Kitchen!

We got there when the restaurant opened so that we would have plenty of time to enjoy our meal before the show and beat the crowds who arrive once the theme park closes at 6 pm.

The restaurant is moderately priced restaurant offering Italian staple dishes that appeal to adults and kids with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating.

Service with Autism in Mind

The hostess welcomed us, showed us to our table promptly and our server was very gracious about explaining the menu in detail to our son with autism, helping him customize the dishes to his liking.

We started off by sharing some of their appetizers known as ‘Primi.‘

autism and the blue man group

Photo credit: Margalit Francus / Autism TravelingMom

Our birthday boy chose roasted eggplant spread with tomato, mozzarella and ricotta accompanied by delicious Tuscan toast. It was served with candied walnuts that came in quaint mini mason jars.

The antipasto platter with salami, Prosciutto, cheeses and olives appealed to my palate while my husband decided to try the in-house handmade meatballs in marinara.

We voted for our favorites :Jeff’s roasted eggplant spread came in first with the fluffy and well-seasoned meatballs coming in a close second.

So Many Yummy Choices

We had a hard time selecting our ‘Secondi’ as there were just so many tempting choices on the menu. The portions are large so we shared an order of the squid-ink pasta seafood with sautéed shrimp, clams, squid and an order of the pan seared branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) with sides of baby potatoes and rapini in a delicate wine sauce.

While waiting for our meal we walked around the restaurant and admired the modern  whimsical style décor. We especially liked the unique restaurant lamps made out of colanders, graters and whisks.

Our chosen entrees did not disappoint. The sea bass was moist and flavorful and seafood squid-ink pasta was a perfect blend of taste and texture, which was important, as some squid dishes tend to be rubbery.

As this meal was already so filling, we were ready to skip dessert altogether .But our server  insisted we try the house specialty: Ricotta cheesecake garnished with candied fruit and seasonal berries. I have to admit that he was right! It turned out to be  great way to top off an excellent meal.

Where to stay at Universal Orlando: Family Friendly Loews Portofino Resort.

Disclaimer: We were given free tickets to see The Blue Man Group show and dinner at Vivo for the purposes of writing about how well it works for people with autism. In both cases, the opinions expressed here are my own.