The Hard Rock Cafe is a global restaurant chain known for preserving artifacts of notable musicians and performers. The Orlando location at Universal City Walk (right across from the theme park) is one of the chain’s larger venues. In fact, it can accommodate up to 1300 patrons at a time. The location boasts multiple rooms and has one of the biggest collections of memorabilia from around the world covering different music eras. Visitors can sit and enjoy American cuisine items surrounded by collectibles from rock stars and celebrities throughout the ages. Kids and adults will be fascinated to explore the different rooms. They can also learn more about the displayed pieces from the servers and from a giant digital interactive post board with trivia.
The DeetsThose who would like to explore more of the collection can book a free behind-the-scenes tour conducted by one of the knowledgeable staff members. This two and a half hour tour is available throughout the year, all you have to do is register 24 hours in advance. Like mentioned prior, the tour is free and takes about two hours to complete from beginning to end. As huge fans of rock n’ roll music, we marveled at the number of relics we saw. We also enjoyed hearing about the stories behind them.
The John Lennon RoomThe tour starts by going upstairs to a room dedicated to the Beatles. One of the first things you will see is John Lennon’s beloved but ripped couch. There are old posters signed by the Beatles on the wall along with John Lennon’s white piano, a treat for any Beatles fan. We recognized the white suit in an individual display box as the one he wore when he married Yoko Ono in Amsterdam. Be sure to pay particular attention to the piano in the John Lennon room. The owners acquired this piano from a donor, who originally purchased it at an auction benefiting kids around the world in November 1991. What is unique about this piano is that a different famous artist signed each key.
The Storage RoomAfter a short tour of the large amphitheater where bands and singers still come to perform, we entered a giant storage room filled with rock memorabilia. Here, visitors can see posters and pins along with statues and outlandish costumes from rock stars and rock bands of the 1980s. Our guide mentioned many of these items, initially slated for the garbage, were salvaged by the restaurant chain that decided to “adopt” them and keep them on display. One of these recovered artifacts is, rumor has it, the booth where Elvis Presley recorded his first song. Our sons got a kick out of reading all the inscriptions and signatures on the wall of the different stars who have visited the cafe.
The Downstairs RoomsThe tour continued downstairs to the various rooms of the restaurant, decorated with many personal items of singers and performers. Not to be missed are Buddy Holly’s glasses along with guitars signed by other contemporary stars. In the next room over, we couldn’t miss the huge pink Cadillac rotating on a special pedestal that allegedly belonged to Elvis Presley. Guests who choose to venture outside will come across an authentic piece of the Berlin Wall. This piece, unfortunately, lost its trademark graffiti due to the over diligence of a restaurant cleaner.
Our TakeawayWe do hope that you will enjoy taking the tour. Consider heading on to the Hard Rock Hotel nearby for additional sights. This cafe is beautiful to look at even if just from the entrance with the guitar fountains to the lobby. We recommend this tour not only for its entertainment but also for its educational value. Kaitlyn, one of the venue managers, was our tour guide. If you ask her nicely, she’s got a magical iPad that controls all the music in the restaurant. If you have a special song to be played request, she’s the one that can make it happen.
Autism Travel Tips:
- This tour is highly recommended for kids who are interested in rock music.
- You cannot touch most items because of their historical value. Because of this, be sure to tell your children this and watch them, so they don’t break anything.
- Since this tour is all indoors and air-conditioned, it’s wonderful, especially in the Florida summer.
- You can technically leave at any time if your child gets bored or they don’t want to walk around. It’s also nice that it is complementary, so you don’t have to invest much other than your time.
- When planning to visit with children with autism, first introduce your kids to rock n’ roll music. The will enjoy it to the fullest if they can identify the singers and enjoy the music.
- Most of the tour your family will be walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Kids will get a huge kick out of an interactive board that you can press to request songs. The board plays an interactive game which is probably the coolest thing we’ve ever seen in interactive games.