Everyone has heard of the Murder Mystery Train in Fort Myers, it’s been an institution in the region since the 1990s. You may know someone who has been on it, or heard about the experience in passing amongst a group of strangers, and you’ve always probably thought “I should do that.”
Well I did.
Inheriting a pair of tickets, my wife and I hopped aboard an early evening dinner and a show crawl on the Seminole Gulf Railway and prepared for a night of murder. They have a steady cast of experienced players and tend to rotate each show about once every two or three months, depending on popularity. We got to experience “Trained For Deception,” set in World War II about a secret formula and the defection of its creator.
There’s a caveat, obviously, they prefer you not to give too much about the show, and rightly so, it ruins a lot of the mystique and allure. But there are prizes for figuring it out, and if I had bothered to write it on the sheet, I would have won[Editor’s Note: Stop bragging]. I’m a stickler for little details that proved to be quite on the money.
The show itself was done in sections, once per car, so I can imagine the cast is all kinds of tired by the end of the night. Each act was roughly 10-15 minutes of dialogue between characters to push the plot points or to rib each other. Guests get sort of shoe-horned in sometimes, but they stay as professional as humanly possible. We had the token ‘way too inebriated’ older lady who decided she wanted to challenge one of the female leads to a Vogue style catwalk runoff. It was hilariously ham fisted, but the actors took it in stride and even gave her a quick applause. The play itself was entertaining enough, and the cast did their jobs very exceptionally, given the footwork needed to do the same play four different times in the span of a couple hours.
The play is inter-spaced between a five-course meal, served onboard the train. Leading off with a light cheese tray and fruit, you get the sort of ambiance they’re bringing you in to. The drink menu is always themed, and they do offer extra desserts and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices. A soup follows, then a bread offering, usually about the time the play is getting in to gear. The main course I had was the prime rib, which was fantastic and cooked to spec, but be forewarned, it’s higher end expectation, rare prime rib is almost tartare so order carefully. The dessert was a spiced cinnamon cake, very rich and very satisfying, even for someone who doesn’t eat sweets very often.
The train ride itself is a unique experience, my dad was an engineer when I was young, so it was very nostalgic for me, but if you’ve never ridden on one it’s a treat. The tracks have been mostly maintained and while the journey through downtown Fort Myers may not be your cup of tea, the view over water as you’re crossing the Chattahoochee is nothing short of breathtaking, especially if you catch it at sunset.
The whole journey varies from play to play, but starting at 630 p.m., we were back in station right around 10 p.m. It feels a lot longer than it is, given scene changes and meals, but it does run just a hair long, given the round-trip nature. Regardless of the slight time grievance, it’s honestly the most fun I’ve had in a structured social setting in a long time. If you haven’t had the chance, treat yourself!
SEMINOLE GULF RAILWAY MURDER MYSTERY TRAIN
Departs from: 2805 Colonial Boulevard, Fort Myers
Price: $79.95($84.95 on Saturday)
Ticket price includes meal, does not include drinks or gratuity.
Reservations required. Call (239) 275-8487 or visit their website.
“Jordan Was Here” is an occasional series by features and entertainment reporter Jordan Hester. Armed with a camera, a notepad, and usually an appetite, follow along as he writes about his experiences visiting some of the lesser-known, or oft-overlooked things to do around Southwest Florida. Neither Jordan, nor Naples Herald or Lee Herald were compensated or given any preferential treatment beyond that of a typical customer in the production of this content.
© 2018 Lee Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.