Family fun at Tampa Theatre

Disclaimer: The Tampa Bay bloggers were invited by Tampa Theatre to the enjoy the first movie of the 2013 Family Favorite season, The Princess Bride.  I was paid with movie tickets in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Last Sunday the family traveled downtown to visit the Tampa Theatre. If you've been around this blog for a while, you know this is one of my favorite places. This classic movie palace is featured a few of my  older posts, including the reissue of Metropolis (with new found footage) and as inspiration for my painting Wallflower.

Heading towards the towering 'Tampa' signage, we passed through the weekly market. Lucky us - we stumbled into fellow Tampa Bay Etsy Crew members KC Bird from Birdhouse Designs and Coryn Enfinger from Dark Cycle Clothing. If you are unfamiliar with TBEC, it is fabulous group of  talented and friendly Tampa Bay area residents who sell their creations, art supplies and vintage finds online at Etsy.com. If this sounds like you (or if you like shopping local), be sure to check these folks out and enjoy your creative community!

We also stopped at the Spicery tent to restock our pantry. These folks have the best selection of herbs and spices.

Even if we had missed the glowing marquee (impossible), we would have known we were in the right place due to the princesses welcoming everyone outside the theater.

Then it was time to enter the time-warp....waawaawaawaaa... (picture wibbly wobbly noise here)... Woah - the lobby of this fantasy filled space is overflowing with  filigree and mystique. 

Before the show, we enjoyed a free tour of the theater. But first a photo op with the queen and her guard.

Opening in 1926, Tampa Theatre is a grande dame from the golden age of cinema. She has painted pillars, draped tapestries and walls covered in carvings and niches where statues linger. Gargoyles top the foyer and the main theater's ceiling is sprinkled with stars. When the lights go down, the starlight seems to grow - our tour guide told us the blinking ones are good luck. One young fellow excitedly pointed out a twinkling light. At the guide's urging many children (and a few adults) closed their eyes to make a wish. I know this sounds super corny... but there is a magic in this wonder-filled space that brings out the kid in many movie fans.

It is tough to see in this photo, but half way up on the right you can see the edge of the balcony seating. That is my favorite viewing space. 

The Mighty Wurlitzer organ belts out vintage tunes before the show - so much better than noisy commercials and long previews. And, yes, the audience started singing along (I'm telling you: the magic here is contagious).

Then it is showtime! The organ and musician slowly disappear beneath the stage. The lights go down ... and the enchantment begins!

My husband and son had never seen The Princess Bride before and were in for a treat! The husband said after so many years of references to the film he was glad to finally find out who Inigo Montoya was, and why he wanted to avenge his father. My 9 yr old is into fantasy books right now, lately Cornelia Funke's Inheart trilogy, so I knew this would be just his speed. He was sucked right into the film's drama and silliness. A few hours after the show he asked me to share this review: "I like the theater. The ceiling is creative. I love the fake stars and the fake doves. It is cool to sit in the balcony! Regular movies don't have any of that. The popcorn was really good. The have an unusually awesome snack selection. The movie was cool. Can we go again next week?"

Definitely! Next Sunday at 2 they are showing 'Babe'. I have to admit I love that talking pig :) Maybe we'll make a day of it and hit the art museum for brunch and a stroll first... or stop into Oxford Exchange for a spell. There are so many cool things going on downtown lately - and I am thrilled that I can now share my love for the Tampa Theatre with the whole family. The kiddo doesn't have an appreciation for the silents or black & white flicks (yet). Plus he is still too young for many of the 1st run and independent movies they regularly show, so this family favorites series hits the spot perfectly.

Click here for a list of upcoming family movies and theater details. Maybe next weekend we will see you at the movies. We'll be in the balcony.

P.S. My latest Art Abandonment drop was in the balcony during The Princess Bride credits. My intent was to drop this maiden doodle during the tour, but I was having such a great time I forgot until the end of the film. If you would like to know more about the Art Abandonment project follow this link.


  1. Excellent time at the theater!! We enjoyed ourselves, too :)

    We didn't arrive early enough to go through the street fair, though it looked interesting!

  2. I love the Tampa Theatre! It was the first time my boys were there. We enjoyed the movie too.

  3. You had such a good time! Inconceivable! Glad you enjoyed; I have never been to the Tampa Theatre. I need to go ASAP! (And I love The Princess Bride, too!)