Saturday, June 2, 2018

Exploring Orlando's Newest Steampunk Restaurant: The Edison

This post is looong overdue, so while I'm finishing up more MegaCon photos let's FINALLY talk about The Edison bar in Disney Springs.

And by "talk about" I of course mean "look at pretty pictures of." :D

I was excited from the moment I heard this steampunk dreamland was coming to the east coast, since I've long drooled over photos of the one in California. Then - my tiny claim to fame - The Edison's official Instagram account opened, and it's second-ever post was one of my pictures:


A post shared by The Edison (@theedisonfla) on


AWW YEAH. I mean, they reposted it from the DisneySprings account, but whatever. I TOOK THAT PICTURE. (Plus this was before they switched to the ugly hot air balloon, so it matched the building better.)

The Edison opened back around New Year's, and John and I popped over several weeks later to look around during the afternoon. I took tons of pictures, fully intending to post them, but then I came home, got distracted, and promptly forgot.

Considering all of The Edison's entertainment is at night, you don't see many clear pictures of the interior - which is a shame, because after seeing it in the light of day lemme tell you: Ohhhh MAMA.

Here, let me take you on a tour.


The outside of Edison is... fine. It blends well with the industrial look of Disney Springs, but it's definitely low on flash. The main thing it has going for it is a colorful clock assembly behind that big glass entryway - which of course you can't see here because I angled up to avoid the people. Ha! Oops. Um, here's a better pic from Disney Tourist Blog:

That blue glow is the giant clock - but as you can see, the rest of the exterior is a snooze-fest compared to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, Orlando's other steampunk theme-park restaurant down the road at Universal:

(Here's my photo tour of Toothsome, in case you missed it.)

I can tell you right off the bat that Toothsome is the more family-friendly steampunk option: it's cartoony, bright and shiny, with an emphasis on fantasy and desserts. Even though it has two bars (The Edison has three), it doesn't FEEL like a bar; it feels like a slice of a theme park.

By contrast the Edison is a bar/lounge/nightclub, and feels it - but in a beautifully upscale and detail-driven way. Here, I'll show you what I mean.

This is the clock just inside the doors, which has colorful spotlights on it to wreak havoc with your camera.  Unlike Toothsome, this gear assembly actually works, with gears meshing into each other. It's your first sign that things at The Edison are a bit more functional, a bit more based in reality.


Here's a panorama of the inside entry:



You enter the seating areas to the right, past the hostess booth. The velvet ropes and well-dressed staff give off a mildly intimidating vibe, so I don't know if they allow folks in to just look around. (We were meeting some fans already inside.) At night that's definitely a no, plus there's a dress code after 10, so keep that in mind.


A closer look at that fabulous light fixture on the left.

Here's your view just past the hostess podium, in the restaurant proper:

This 2-story atrium is flanked by stairways, steel girders, and uplights that turn the domed ceiling into a bright orange haze.

On top of the central landing is a rusty red steam engine; a great contrast to all the gleaming copper and brass on the handrails and lighting.

Again comparing this to Toothsome; Edison has much more of an intimate lounge feel. There are lots of seating areas like this tucked around, inviting you to kick back and stay a while:

All the leather seating made me drool. Look at those tufted back!

There is a beautiful feeling of age and grit, right down to the elevator:

Here's the upstairs bar, tucked into the top right corner:

You guys, look at these details! Aged pipe shelving, a massive antique scale in the corner, and classic subway tiles. Hnnnng. I feel a need to redo my kitchen coming on.

I don't have any idea what this is on the wall - some kind of meter? - but you can tell it's genuinely old, and genuinely gorgeous. Plus the faux finishing on that plaster work? PERFECTION.

While you're upstairs you must - MUST - take a picture of this mural. It's the law. Jen's Law.


Right. I *guess* we can go downstairs now.


Down on the main floor you'll find the restaurant table seating in the middle, and more lounge-like seating tucked against the walls:
You can still order appetizers as well as drinks while sitting here, and there are roaming waitstaff, so no need to get up. 

The center downstairs bar:



I quickly fell in love with the draperies; they have a shimmery copper texture that glows under all the Edison lights:


There are industrial doo-dads everywhere, often repurposed into lighting or table bases:

This was tucked under the stairs by a waiter's station:

Before you ask: I have no idea.

The main attraction downstairs is the stage area - really just a cleared section against a wall:

There is live entertainment Thursday through Sunday night, after 10 pm. During the day they project odd black-and-white film segments on the concrete wall behind it.

The entertainment includes a 20's style band, dancing (with flappers!), and even aerial contortionists. Here's a promotional shot of some of the dancers:
 

I should stress that the entertainment is extremely "adult" and has caused a bit of a kerfulffle among fans. The dancing is the most risque you'll find on Disney property, and the aerialist sometimes wears a nude sparkly body suit that makes her look, well, nude. Not always, though:

A post shared by The Edison (@theedisonfla) on

As you can see it's a romantic vibe that could be perfect for date nights - just depends on the particular acts and your tastes. (I just watched a live stream last night of their bikini-clad contortionist that had me blushing, lol. Don't bring your grandparents, is what I'm saying.)

 The floor in front of the stage is filled with smaller tables and chairs, which are pushed back at night for the dancers.

Looking up from the floor:


You can watch the shows from any of those tables on the second floor, looking down.

And looking way up, that cube is used in the aerialist act. That big fan with the pink spotlight is the back side of the giant entry clock. Pretty cool, right?

Another look at the stage area:

Again, the black-and-white films they're showing are... odd. I have no other words. They're randomly sped up and edited with lots of jumps to other films, so yeah. Odd.

Here's a fun detail: I looked down at one point, and realized I was standing on a well with another industrial thinga-ma-bob inside it:


Here comes bar #3 - and arguably the prettiest one:

Did I mention that the story behind Edison is that it's an old industrial power plant? Here's the strongest evidence of that; all those lovely switchboard and gauges and dials, mmmm.

At the back wall you reach this jaw-dropping little corner:

It's mirrored all the way 'round (that's my reflection on the right), and filled with more mystifying machinery and luxurious leather sofas. SO. COOL.

Next to that is the underside of the giant Clock and more of my favorite details:
These boiler room doors and furnace grates had me fan-girling pretty hard, y'all.

Plus when you look up:

You can see the entry clock with all its moving gears and chains!

This wall, ermergersh. ERMERGERSH.

Another mirrored seating area:

I had to get in there to show you guys the end table:

Can you imagine sourcing all these parts to turn into furniture? It must weigh a ton!

Peeking out into the dining area beside another mystery machine:
 

There's another visual feast outside the bathrooms, if you can believe it:

Metallic copper tiles and drool-worthy art deco signage - plus a funky round communal sink, right outside between the two doors! (I guess this way you never have to stand in line if you just want to wash your hands?)


One last seating area: 

The framed monitor plays more of those odd films.
(I just realized this shot looks like the World Showcase in Epcot. COINCIDENCE? Probably.)

John and I keep meaning to go back and catch some of the live entertainment, but honestly I think I enjoy the decor more, which is harder to see at night. We also haven't tried the food, but I can tell you it's on the high end of theme park pricing, and the reviews I've seen so far don't have me raring to go. You are paying for the atmosphere, though, and THAT is definitely worth (at least) an over-priced drink or two.

Oh! One last alternative: since the place does shift from restaurant to night club after 10pm, you could always go late and pay the $10 cover charge to get in. Keep in mind it's 21 and over at that point, though, and there's also a dress code for the fellas. Personally I'd rather do that so I can roam around and avoid paying $50 each for a meal, but hey, I'm cheap. :D

Hope you guys enjoyed exploring The Edison with me!

And if you've already been, then tell me, how was the food? Any recommendations?

24 comments:

  1. I now want a steam punk inspired house. Thank you for sharing! It is gorgeous! It would make for a fun them night evening out.

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  2. Oh wow -- we live in Los Angeles and have been to The Edison here a few times. I had no idea they were building one in Orlando. Fun!

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  3. Pretty cool place all right!
    That clock like thing on the wall in the upstairs bar is a chart recorder instrument - usually of temperature, pressure, voltage or power. The round paper chart rotates, usually once per day, underneath one of more inked styli which mark the changing data trends.
    Sharing that big raised platform with the red steam engine is a small gasoline "hit or miss" engine that looks complete and authentic.
    Some of the table bases you swooned over look like flyball governors, which are as cool as their name. Yes, likely very heavy.



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  4. That looks so cool! I'm headed to Disney next week. Hope to check it out :)

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  5. We're booked there the first night of our September trip.......I can't wait!

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  6. I have to say, Rob and I really DID enjoy exploring the Edison with you. ^.^

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  7. Gah! We have reservations for our October trip, I was excited before but now.....**excitement intensifies** Thanks for the decor porn! ;-)

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  8. and here's menu link.... https://www.theedisonfla.com/menu
    and thanks for the pretty pictures!

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  9. Huh. That's a very interesting looking place, but I think part of the attraction is YOU having took the pictures. :D Thanks for the photo tour!
    Pinkie Welborne, 17
    Indiana

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  10. We went in April. Got there just before it switched to coverage charge (or they weren't doing that yet not sure) to grab a late night drink and dinner. Our first table was way to loud as the band had already started. My husband wanted to leave but I asked the hostess if perhaps there was a table available that wasn't right on top of the entertainment. She said no problem and moved us to the dinning area that is behind the big wall (where the lounge and bathrooms are downstairs) and it was so much better. We could still hear the live band but also chat and eat in an appropriate level. The drinks were good and my husband liked his dish. My started, the deviled eggs, were good but my main was meh. I got the meat loaf and it was just dry and bland. I ate the mashed potatoes and if I wasn't super tired at that point I probably would have sent it back but I just wasn't feeling like waiting for another dish. I am willing to give it another try since everything else was good.

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  11. If y'all ever get to Memphis (yeah, I know. Why would you?), there is a bar I think you would love. It is inside the Bass Pro Shop, believe it or not, which is in a huge pyramid downtown, because of course it is. Once inside the store/hotel/entertainment center, after you've enjoyed all of the fish, alligators, etc., pay your $10 to ride an elevator to the top of the pyramid. Upstairs there are outdoor observation decks, and a bar filled with steampunk fish hanging from the ceiling.

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    1. I've been there and just loved it. I took photos of all the steampunk fish and they turned out great. I enjoy Memphis and hope to go back some day.
      Katey

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  12. I've been there, and the food menu didn't speak to me.....loved sitting at the smaller bar on the bottom floor, just idly chatting with the bartender, sipping his recommendation (the Electric Mule). I chose to go around 1:30, and the place was pretty quiet. What I find interesting is I'm fairly certain the 'bones' of the building, especially the atrium, echo what used to sit on that location, the Adventurer's Club. Anyone else get that feeling?

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  13. Thank you for the great tour! I'm looking forward to going. Do you know if they will let you in if your are dressed steampunk? I heard a rumor they would not...

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    1. From my experiences at this one and the one in LA, my guess is no - it's not operated by Disney, it's run by an outside operator -- hence the differences in entertainment, the dress code, etc. But the one in LA occasionally has themed events where that's allowed, so maybe this one will too after awhile?

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  14. So glad to see you posting about this, and that you enjoyed it! I've worked on this project on and off since its inception, and spent a lot of time in the LA location. The company I work for now did the clock, that mural you love, the breaker bar, and a lot of other fun details in here - it's definitely a labor of love. Andrew, the owner, is an avid collector of random ephemera, so he had a lot of the old machine parts, etc, already. There's lots of stories I could tell about this place!

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  15. We were there in March of this year for lunch. Great setting but the (pricy!) food doesn't live up to it, sadly.

    Re the film snippets, I think at least some of them are works by Georges Méliès, a pioneering film auteur. I recognized some of the bits from this lovely Google doodle earlier this year: Celebrating Georges Méliès

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  16. The whole place looks intriguing, and I will never get to see it in person so I appreciate the tour. What I'm lusting after though, is those copper tiles outside the bathrooms. I need to find these and then find a use for them. Thanks, Jen!

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  17. The will allow you to go in for a look around. I was there on a weeknight way before 10...

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  18. Textbook AquarianJune 8, 2018 at 9:16 AM

    Just a thought about the weird films: Thomas Edison (who I assume the theme is partly based on) was heavily involved in the early film industry. He held the patents to a lot of the technology and convinced his fellow patent owners to join him in creating a monopoly. Thus independant filmmakers trying to escape Edison's mob-like enforcement of his trademark claims moved to California where judges were less favorable to him. Hence how Hollywood was born. :)

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  19. This place looks amazing and I wish I had done more research so I had known about it when we went to Orlando in March. It would have been a great grown-ups night out excursion.

    I'm curious though, because I thought steampunk was Victorian in setting and sci-fi-ish, but this seems more 1920s and not sci-fi? So, am I confused about what steampunk is, or has the definition expanded or, am I wrong about the 1920s vibe here (maybe because I'm looking at pictures rather than experiencing it in real life)? I still think it's beautiful, I'm just wondering what gets defined as steampunk and what is vintage industrial or are those the same thing?

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    1. You're totally right: steampunk is supposed to have a fantasy/sci-fi element to it, and the 1920's version of it is technically known more as dieselpunk, since the technology went from steam to gas engines. I tend to be pretty loose with my definition of steampunk, though, so anything with lots of metal and whimsical gadgets and antiques fits the aesthetic for me. Since steampunk isn't as popular as it used to be, I think we fans are less picky and tend to grab on to anything close for inspiration - so that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. ;)

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