UCF TAILGATE GUIDE
This guide is meant mostly for out of town UCF or opposing fans that aren’t familiar with UCF’s gameday experience and the surrounding areas. I’ll admit though that I’ve tailgated in the same spot since the opening of Bright House stadium so my tailgate info is based on my experiences there, my walks around campus, and what I’ve heard from others. If you read something that you believe should be modified or clarified please to let me know!
I’ll also add that UCF has an official Gameday Guide site that you should check out and I will refer to often!
DIRECTIONS TO CAMPUS
Our football team now plays on the main UCF campus at Bright House Networks Stadium. Click here to get official directions from the UCF Gameday site.
I’ll add some unofficial advise that you may want to consider to avoid some congestion. If you are coming from the north you probably should consider getting off of 417 at exit 41 which is Red Bug Lake Rd. Head east for approx 1.5 miles (the road will become Mitchell Hammock) and then make a right (south) on 434 / Alafaya Trail. Just take this road down approx 4 miles and the school will be on your left. You can enter via Centaurus Dr or University Blvd. Here is a map that is on the UCF site that may assist you with general directions.
The stadium is located on the northeast side of campus and there is no parking for non-donors anywhere north or east of the stadium. All general parking will be southwest of the stadium. Take a look at the map below and keep the following in mind:
GOLD ZONE: UCF Donor only
BLUE ZONE: General Football Parking (free)
RED ZONE: General Football Parking (free)
GREEN & ORANGE LOTS: No football parking including Garage B
Gemini Blvd North (3 hours prior to game)
Gemini Blvd East (3 hours prior to game unless you have a GOLD pass)
Orion Blvd North (all day unless you have a GOLD pass)
I recommend that you check out the official parking guide from UCF located on their Gameday site.
The rules have become a little tricky recently. If the game starts before 6pm everything is simple as you can start tailgating and drinking anytime after 8am. However if the game starts at 6pm or after then you can not drink alcohol until 12pm. Also unless you are in certain Gold lots you can’t technically tailgate until 12pm, but typically as long as you don’t full raise your tent or drink alcohol then you will be okay. Parking is usually only blocked in the C and D lots of the Gold Zone until 12pm, elsewhere you shouldn’t have an issue parking before then. Tailgating is permitted on any surface lots or grass areas, it is not permitted on any level in the garages. No kegs, glass containers, or beer funnels are permitted so bring you cups and cans. For more info please see the tailgate page on the UCF Gameday site.
Where to Setup Shop?
I think it depends on what you are looking for and how far you want to walk from you parking spot. The gold zone areas of course are going to be jammed full of UCF faithful when tailgating begins with elaborate setups and lots of Knight pride. There are usually great tailgate setups in the H1 – H4 areas, although construction and new buildings have limited this somewhat since the 2007 season. Also H1 – H4 are prime general parking areas because they are surface lots so you can tailgate behind your car if desired or if you get there early enough there are some good grass areas you can utilize around there. The areas by B1 and B2 provide a nice change of pace for tailgating as you have the backdrop of the reflecting pond. If you prefer a more quiet scene with a beautiful setting, this may be a good spot for you.
A helpful hint is that all lots that have a number in them are surface lots, ex: H1, B5, etc. Only the garages are referred to by a letter with no accompanying number. Garages are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.
If you want to venture around and check out the UCF tailgate scene I’d recommend walking by the Memory Mall, C1 area, E6/E7 areas, and H1-H4 areas. I’d also recommend checking out the TUTE page (the UCF tailgating experience) on this site to see pics and videos of UCF tailgate scenes on campus.
The Memory Mall is a giant grass lawn (no cars allowed) between the Student Union and the new UCF Arena which in many ways has become UCF tailgate central. It has a mix of donors and students along with the official SGA setup. Here you can see the Marching Knights perform, live stage bands perform, official and not-so-official activities, free food giveaways, loud music, and some great tailgate setups. Tailgate tug of wars, slip ‘n slides, soap wrestling, ..it all happens here.
On the flip side due to the number of students tailgating here the Mall has gotten a reputation of being a trouble spot for opposing fans wandering through. If you don’t want to experience a rough environment as an opposing fan or if you have young kids you may want to avoid this area on your way to the stadium.
360 degree view of Memory Mall from 2007
A Visitors Stroll Around Campus
Here’s a good walk to make if you want to check out UCF’s campus. Start out at the reflecting pond (near B1) facing the Library. Walk around the pond to the sidewalk that runs up to the Library, when facing the Library walk to the left down the sidewalk and then stay to the right until you come up on a walkway between two buildings. You should see the main UCF bookstore located on the left side of this walkway. Walk all the way through the center and on the other side you will see the Student Union in front of you (large 3 story building). Walk right through the center of the Student Union to check it out and then and walk out through the opposite doors on the north side. You will see a wooded area that has a wooden walkway, walk through this and on the other side you will see the Memory Mall area. Walk through the Memory Mall area (see above) and you will see the new UCF Arena. Stay to the right of the Arena and walk through the Knights Plaza which is full of stores and restaurants. After passing Knight Plaza you will see Bright House Networks stadium to your right!
TAILGATING FOR THE NON-TAILGATER?
So you want to have some pre-game food and drink but you don’t want to deal with the tents or the cooking and mixers? Well luckily you have some good options on campus with the Student Union and the Knights Plaza. UCF Alumni and GKC members also have options with official tailgates in the UCF Alumni center and the UCF Arena. Also I believe there is also an off-campus bar that does “indoor tailgating” called Knights Library which is across the street from the campus.
The Student Union has a restaurant which serves beer and food called Wackadoos which is right on the first floor. If you don’t need to drink there is also a lot of other food options: Subway, Burger King, Asian Chao, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Sbarro, and PhatPhilly. You can get more info on these from the Student Union site right here. There is also usually a giant projection TV in the center of the Union playing other college football games.
The newly built Knight Plaza is right next to the new UCF Arena and is part of the UCF Athletics Village. A restaurant/bar called Tailgators opened recently and it has a full liquor bar plus over 50 beers on tap. They have a pretty nice gameday setup from what I saw last week. You can even buy food without going inside. Other food (minus alcohol) options include Knightos Cafe (buffet), Jimmy Johns Subs, Subway, and Dominos. There is also a giant UCF bookstore along with a surf and beach shop.
ORLANDO DINING AND NIGHTLIFE GUIDE
Everyone reading this knows what Orlando has to offer in terms of entertainment so there is no reason for me to rehash that all here. But what I can do is focus on some places near the campus and some unknown spots around the area that may be of interest to an out-of-towner.
Moat Sports Grille: Fantastic new 100% UCF themed sports bar that is the new favorite bar of UCF sports fans!
Knight Library: Sports Bar in shopping plaza across the street, very pro UCF!
Tailgaters: On campus, over 50 beers on tap
Lazy Moon Pizza: Home of the pizza you can’t fit out the door, also great beers! In shopping plaza across the street
Devaney’s Too: Bar that is popular with the UCF student & faithful
El Cerro Grande: Mexican restaurant in the plaza across the street. Not great, not too bad either.
Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que: Pretty good Orlando BBQ that is right up Alafya Trail
Huey Magoos: Best chicken tenders in town!
Ale House: There is one on University and one in Waterford Lakes plaza
Firkin & Kegler: This is place is a bit more family friendly for those with youngsters. It has a bowling alley with giant TVs, virtual golf, arcade, a restaurant, a bar, and a nightclub. (Waterford)
In addition you have all the chains up and down Univeristy Blvd. These include Applebees, Houlihans, Pizzeria Unos, Sonnys, Steak and Shake, and a ton of fast food options. Then in the Waterford Lakes area you have even more chains including: Buffalo Wild Wings, Smokey Bones BBQ, Urban Flats, Fridays, Amigos, Longhorn, and Red Lobster.
Downtown Orlando Area
Willow Tree Cafe: It’s about a 30 min drive from campus, but worth every minute. Authentic German restaurant with delicious food & beer plus excellent entertainment!