Enzian is an art house theatre that plays exceptional movies that you often don’t find at your local mega-theatre complex. In addition, Enzian sponsors a monthly free “popcorn flicks” movie at a park in Winter Park, the annual Florida Film Festival, various “cult classics” showings, a kid’s theatre camp each summer, and several other special events and minor film festivals.
Your first impression of Enzian will confirm that you have arrived at someplace special. The gravel parking lot that weaves parking spaces around the old green building feels more like a private driveway than a commercial lot. The large green edifice itself has the look of an old, comfortable home that has been remodeled with a large addition and only the flashing marquee above the entrance hints that you are actually at a theatre. Yet it is the sound of gurgling water from the unobtrusive fountain engulfed by the canopy of a large, ancient oak tree covered with hanging Spanish moss in front of the theatre that puts you in the right frame of mind for a truly memorable evening.
The newly constructed outdoor bar provides not only beverages, but local art newspapers, friendly and knowledgeable conversation, and a place to unwind either before or after the show. Upon entering the spacious lobby, you can pass the time by reviewing the displays of coming attractions or the decorations of old, favorite movie posters.
When the house opens, be prepared to experience a theatre unlike any you have enjoyed before. There are four different levels of seating. The level closest to the stage and screen is made up primarily of large sofas with coffee tables and comfortable upholstered chairs with arm tables. The second and third levels feature two and four person tables with large semi-oval chairs that envelop you. The last level features additional table and chair arrangements allowing parties of any size to sit together and enjoy a meal and a show.
As soon as the house opens, a large army of wait staff scurries through the theatre taking food and beverage orders. The constantly changing menu features top notch, creative fare to satisfy all palettes, including those with special diets such as vegetarians. Orders are automatically transmitted to the kitchen and at some point early on in the movie your meal will be skillfully and quietly placed at your table.
Although a visit to the Enzian is special at any time, in early spring the theatre comes alive with the annual Florida Film Festival. The festival is so large, several other theatre venues are used as well, but the best and main festival favorites all take place at the Enzian. Many times my two sons and I would spend an entire day at the Enzian enjoying a feature film here, a documentary there, a selection of shorts, and, of course, the midnight showing which was always more interesting to my sons than to me! I can’t imagine the logistical challenges of serving so many film goers movie after movie, yet I never failed to receive good food and good service while enjoying the many films.
The Enzian is one of those local favorites to be discovered by the well informed traveller looking for “more than a mouse”™