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The Mercado – International Drive

The Mercado

The Mercado was a lively and vibrant destination frequented by 1000s of tourists and locals alike with the free nightly entertainment, dining and shopping. The free entertainment in the outdoor courtyard and Blazing Piano’s Red Hot Rock n Roll Piano Bar, made it seem similar to the original Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village and Pleasure Island, in a way.  Our family loved Blazing Pianos because you could bring kids and the free nightly outdoor entertainment.

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This commercial from 1993 highlights the shopping and dining and entertainment that was a nightly occurrence. VIEW

The Mercado Marketplace declined over the years and finally closed. This article in 2006 paints a very sad picture of what remained when the article was published.  READ

WATCH this video with images of the Mercado in 2007 with some of the businesses marked for demolition. Read the notes and comments, too.

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Comments to “The Mercado – International Drive”

  1. darren says:

    hi, loved looking at the Mercado of old, wondered if anybody knows there was a coffee/ice cream shop in the food court owned by a man called Matt who had all the football memorabilia
    just wondered if anybody knows where he might be now as my mother always went every night on holiday to see him and have a great coffee
    thank you

    • Kim P says:

      Darren, it looks like the name of the place was Molto Ice Cream. It is listed as #96 on the brochure. If you search Florida Division of Corporations on SunBiz.org you can find that it was first owned by Silvia Gullian and then by Wendy McConnell. We don’t see anyone named Matt listed, but he might have been a family member or an employee. Sounds like they had delicious treats!

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings Darren! Hope someone remembers Matt. We will look around the library and see if we can his shop listed in the telephone directory. Perhaps we can find his name. Will let you know if we find anything. OrlandoMemory.info

  2. Nic B says:

    The Mercado holds a very special place in my heart as I would visit annually with my parents, often staying in what was Summerfield Suites opposite. My Mum, who has now passed, loved to wander the small stores and my Dad and I would enjoy the courtyard, the magic shop and we’d eventually all find something to eat at the All American Grill or the Sub shop that was next to it on the corner of the food court.

    I remember the food court being tiered and I was always excited to be the one to pick where we’d sit. Eventually, we became good friends with the owner of the Grill. It’s possible now that he has passed on as he wasn’t the youngest back in the 1990s, but such fond memories. What I’d give for a day back there as it was in its heyday.

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings Nic! Thank you for visiting Orlando Memory and sharing your sweet memories of your Mum and the fun your family had at The Mercado. If you have any photos of your family at the Mercado, we’d love to add one to the post. Let us know and we’ll contact you so you can share the photo. We are sorry that your Mum has passed, but know she will live on in your thoughts. Orlando Memory

  3. Dave Horsley says:

    Sad to hear the Mercado is no more. Great memories of an entertainer called Rick Jeffries who played outdoors there in the 90s or early 2000s. The place was buzzing every night.

  4. Gari Clark says:

    The Mercado was one of my favourite places to visit when I was on holiday from the UK in the 90s’. I’m gutted that it’s been demolished. My main place inside was the Old Town Magic Shop. I loved it in there!

    Also, I’m not sure if anyone else remembers these, but my parents bought me this puppet that wrapped around your waist and had a stick attached to one of its hands. I still have that in my parents house!

    Am I right in saying that the Mercado was replaced by Icon Park?

    • Michael Dwain says:

      Hi Gari Clark…

      I sold those puppets at the kiosk cart located in the courtyard of the Mercado Center, the same courtyard that hosted nightly entertainment (mainly singing). Glad to know that you still have the puppet!
      Take care…

      Michael

      • Kim P says:

        Greetings Michael! Thank you for visiting Orlando Memory and leaving a comment about The Mercado. I must admit, my two kids begged us to get them one of those puppets every time they saw them! If you have any photos you’d like to share of you time working at The Mercado, we’d love to post them!

    • Kim P says:

      According to reports it was bull dozed in anticipation of a condo being constructed but it never materialized. If you go to Maps.Google.com and search for 8445 South International Drive, Orlando, you can see there are a number of restaurants, motel, etc., in that location now. The Icon Park was formerly Orlando 360. We hope you find more posts on Orlando Memory that bring back happy memories of your time visiting Orlando!

  5. Sonya Blythe says:

    Wasn’t there an Italian restaurant where the waiters would sing? I went there in about 2003 and loved it!

  6. Lee Smith says:

    I was a server at Charlie’s Lobster House in 1988-90.

  7. Margaret N. says:

    Oh my gosh I have wonderful memories of visiting here with my sister, sitting in the courtyard with a beverage listening to the mariachi band! I’m sad to learn it’s no longer there!

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings Margaret! I forgot about the Mariachi Band! Thank you for visiting Orlando Memory and sharing your family memories of The Mercado. I hope you find other posts that bring back memories of the good old days and share your thoughts.

  8. AJ Harrison says:

    I wish more photos and Videos existed of The Mercado, probably my favorite ever place in Orlando, as well as Belz.

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings AJ! So glad you shared your memories of The Mercado with Orlando Memory! We loved the dueling Piano Bar at Mercado and the free entertainment. Perhaps someone will post home movies from Mercado one day and we can link to them! Until then, we’ll hold on to our memories!

  9. Mary says:

    HI! I was hoping you could help me track down the name of a restaurant that used to be off I drive near the Mercado.

    It was an Italian restaurant in a strip mall, that when you walked in there were cold cases to one side where they had deli items then the restaurant part was separated by a fake lattice wall. The last time I was there was in the 90s

    • Kim P says:

      Hello Mary! Thank you for visiting Orlando Memory. There were two Italian restaurants in that area in 1990: Bergamos which, according to the Real Yellow Pages, was at Mercado, and Carmenti’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant on International Drive not far from Mercado.

      • David Watson says:

        There was Also DiVino’s restaurant in the Mercado. I know, I worked there. A great italian restaurant which was the sister restaurant to Bergamo’s

        • Kim P says:

          Thanks for sharing your memories of DiVino’s restaurant with Orlando Memory! We hope you will find more memories to share with us!

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