3. Prado Stadium 12
This is touted as being the vacation-go-er’s movie theater and an upscale movie going experience. Located in Bonita, it’s near enough to Naples to warrant being upscale to attract the generally upper-scale locals and that’s a good thing if you live in Fort Myers and don’t mind a bit of a drive. The building the theater is in is one of the better-looking in the area, since it has a bit of a Mediterranean flair to it including an outdoor fire and a water fountain where you can sit and enjoy a little time before or after your movie.
Another plus is that you can bring your food and drink from the restaurant into the movie theater. There’s a VIP section which allows you to order food and drink in the theater while watching the movie. As someone who has been to one of those theaters where you order a meal during the runtime of the movie, this is a much preferred option. If everyone is able to order in the movie theater instead of just a VIP section, then you have wait staff constantly walking around the theater in front of the screen and people clanging dishes around--especially kids; good intentions, but no bueno. Thankfully, Prado Stadium 12 doesn’t make this mistake.
2. Regal Cinemas Gulf Coast 16 & IMAX
While other theaters on this list may have better seats and feature restaurants and bars, Regal Gulf Coast 16 is the only theater on this list that has IMAX. If you want the picture to completely fill your field of vision and want the sound to blow your face off, then IMAX is your pick. This theater is perfect for the big Hollywood releases and blockbuster movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens since the rooms tend to have more seating and some of the biggest screens in the area. Because this theater is so popular, just be aware that occasionally the big movie that weekend might be either sold out or crowded so you may want to buy your ticket at least an hour in advance. If you enjoy watching a movie with an audience, then this theater is for you.
While the theater itself only offers your typically overpriced concessions drink and snacks in the lobby, this theater gets some points for its location in Gulf Coast Town Center with all of the restaurants in the mall. It’s comparable to Bell Tower 20 except it offers IMAX and a much better assortment of restaurants nearby. Between P.F. Chiang’s, Ale House, Red Robin, Blu Sushi, and even Moe’s, there’s plenty of nice places to eat lunch or dinner (and that’s not even a full list of the restaurants in the shopping center). I’ll also add that this is a great movie theater to go to on a typical date night. You’ll have a lot of choices if you want to do a dinner and movie date as everything is within walking distance to the movies, or at most a short drive since GCTC is kinda huge. Just take your girlfriend or wife for a walk around the outdoor mall and enjoy.
Honorable Mention: Marquee Cinemas Coralwood 10
Before we get to our number one best movie theater in southwest Florida, I’d like to take this time to at least tip my hat to Coralwood 10. It’s a modest little movie theater in a small shopping plaza in Cape Coral. The theaters are smaller, the screens are smaller, but the seats are pretty good; not quite Coconut Point 16 good, but better than Bell Tower 20 and Gulf Coast 16. Go to this theater if you want to see a movie like a romantic comedy or a drama and you don’t care about the size of the screen. The picture and sound quality is good otherwise.
You’re an OK guy, Coralwood 10; you’re an OK guy.
1. Silverspot Cinema
Silverspot is simply the best! The higher price point means that you’ll have less riff raff or darn kids to worry about. Since it’s located in the Mercato shopping mall, it’s as high-end as you can get in the area. If you’re budget-conscious, it may not be your first choice, but for those special occasions, this place is worth it. Gulf Coast Town Center is good for a typical date night, but Silverspot is for a special date night.
While it doesn’t have IMAX, the way this theater edges out the competition is that it elevates just watching a movie into a great night out with friends. Imagine a movie theater except all of the seats are leather lazy-boy chairs with ample leather armrests for everyone. Seating is special because you buy a ticket for an assigned seat. No more walking into a crowded movie theater, staring at everyone already seated, and having to find seats as the previews are starting. Instead, you walk in, find your seat number and simply sit down. For larger groups, I’d recommend some simple planning where everyone meets 2 or 3 hours ahead of time and purchases their tickets at the kiosk so you can all sit together. While you’re waiting for your showtime, you should get dinner at one of the fine dining restaurants in the plaza for a night to remember. I’d also recommend checking out Second Cup for not only their coffee, but also their hot chocolate and Italian soda if you’re looking to blow some time and hang out with friends or with your date. All of this leads to Silverspot Cinema being the best option for a perfect movie-going experience when you blend a premium movie theater with reserved seating and good food and friends.
You couldn’t go wrong by choosing any of the theaters on this list and it’s really just my opinion. What do you think? Did your favorite movie theater make it on this list? Did I miss any that you think should have been included? Let me know in the comments.