Sunday, October 19, 2008

Walking In Cirlces: Festival Bay Mall

Shopping. Nothing livens up the day like going out to spend money, and Orlando has some awesome places to blow cash. Unfortunately, unless you're a local, you've probably never heard of the Festival Bay Mall. Wedged near low-income housing and fast food restaraunts, Festival Bay never got what it signed up for.

Several years ago, the only reason to visit the giant concrete cave was the massive Bass Pro Shop or the Vans Skatepark (where they happened to film portions of the first Jackass movie). Most of the stalls inside the store were empty, and only a little foot traffic was to be seen.  Sadly, over the past few years not much has changed. Most of the mall remains empty, with facades showcasing how wonderful it would look if someone opened a business there. Several name-brand eateries show up around every corner such as Cold Stone Creamery, A&W and Churro Mania, but besides the endless over-prices buffet there isn't much to offer. The mall resembles a five-star flea-market with urban-style clothing stores complete with signs rush-ordered at the local Kinkos.

I do find myself stopping by this place fairly often though, it's extremely quiet and boasts one of the few remaining coin-operated Arcades. Light traffic inside the mall allows visits to usually more crowded stores such as Hot Topic and Steve and Barry's to be more like a time-wasting trip to K-Mart. Add to the fact that there are at least twenty soda vending machines around the mall that only require a dollar versus most mass-market malls two-dollar machines, I can keep chugging Dr. Pepper while aiming laser guns at virtual targets in the Bass Pro Shop.

Overall, the visit is nice. You can run into the ironic Ron-Jon surf shop (forty miles in-land isn't too far, amirite?) to grab a screaming-loud Hawaiian shirt then bolt over to the large indoor fountain to grab a bite to eat from an adjacent food-stand. If you're a local and you haven't been, grab a buddy or two and head out. But if you're visiting town and want to only see the high-end of the retail experience, stick with Mall at Millenia.