Orlando's tourism corridor: More than $2 billion of high-profile development planned for 2018 and beyond in the thriving I-Drive Resort Area

ORLANDO, FL (May 2018) - The I-Drive Resort Area continues to increase its presence as a major player in Orlando's booming hospitality industry. The past several years have brought changes to the tourism corridor. 
 
2015: A banner year for development 
This is the year it all began with the opening of these highly anticipated and landscape-changing projects:
 
I-Drive 360, $200 million entertainment destination and home to the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye opened in the heart of International Drive. The 400-foot, iconic observation wheel is the centerpiece of the themed complex featuring a dynamic blend of attractions, restaurants, nonstop entertainment and shops. USA Today Travel named the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye the second largest observation wheel at 400 feet tall. Read about it here.
 
Joining the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye as part of I-Drive 360’s unique line-up of attractions, are world-famous Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Aquarium, SKELETONS: Animals Unveiled! and Arcade City. Twice a day, visitors also enjoy a $1.5 million water show set to music and color-changing lights. The complex offers free parking in its 1,600-space garage. i-drive360.com
 
Mango's Tropical Cafe & Nightclub Complex opened its $40 million, 55,000-square-foot restaurant and nightclub providing nonstop live entertainment, dancing and dining. The Latin-themed restaurant and club is an expansion of the Mango's brand in South Beach and is the newest nighttime hotspot on I-Drive. mangos.com
 
In addition to these exciting, new attractions, visitors continue to find endless fun in the I-Drive Resort Area including six of the world's most famous theme parks (SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay Water Park), restaurants, dinner shows, shopping experiences, mega entertainment complexes, smaller family style attractions and spas.
 
2016: The trend continues
Development in 2016 kept moving forward with new attractions such as SeaWorld's Mako Coaster, Universal's Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster and Skull Island Reign of Kong, Main Event at Pointe Orlando and Breakout Escape Rooms Orlando. New dining venues were also added, including the new McDonald's - World's Largest Play Place, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen and a completely re-designed Tony Roma's.  Loews Sapphire Resort and Home 2 Suites by Hilton Orlando both opened their doors to guests and Alexan Crossroads and The Courtney Apartments at Universal Blvd. started leasing, adding more residents to the Resort Area. As well as a new Seabra Foods grocery store.
 
2017: No slowing down
With 33 projects tracked by the District, development definitely did not slow down in 2017. We saw many new attractions such as Volcano Bay Water Park, Topgolf Orlando, Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, iFly Orlando Indoor Skydiving, Universal's Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Lockbusters Escape Game. SeaWorld Orlando opened a new and improved Dolphin Nursery, the Aquatica Pass Member Pavilion, Flamecraft Bar and Kraken Unleashed. Three new restaurants started serving guests: Pio Pio, Uncle Julio's and Pollo Tropical. Hogan's Beach Shop, CVS Pharmacy and the brand new Visit Orlando's Official Visitors Center all opened their doors. 
 
The I-Drive Pedestrian Bridge between the Orange County Convention Center and Hyatt Orlando opened to allow pedestrians to safely cross above International Drive. The I-4 Ultimate project completed the Grand National Drive Overpass & Kirkman Road Interchange which connects the Major Blvd. area to north International Drive.
 
It was a record year for accommodations as new & existing hotels accounted for ten projects, giving guests even more options for their stay in the I-Drive Resort Area: Cabana Bay Beach Resort Expansion,  Calypso's Pool Bar & Grille at Caribe Royale, DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld expansion, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Orlando, Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando at SeaWorld, Homewood Suites Orlando Theme Park, Las Palmeras by Hilton Grand Vacations, Staybridge Suites Orlando at SeaWorld, TownePlace Orlando at SeaWorld, and Westgate Lakes Resorts & Spa.
 
Finally, five new residential complexes came online: Ancora Apartment Homes, Axis West, Lake View Apartments, Lantower Grande Pines and Westwood Apartments. All helping to make the I-Drive Resort Area a great place to dine, shop, play and live!
 
2018: Newly opened
Lexus of Orlando to build a 175,000-square-foot showroom and maintenance facility. Opened January 2018. www.lexusoforlando.com
  
The International Drive widening project completed its expansion from four to six lanes from South Westwood Blvd. to North Westwood Blvd. in January 2018. For more details, check here.
 
Solstice Apartments is a new mid-rise luxury apartment community to include 309 units, a zero-entry pool, exercise room with indoor hot and cold plunge pools and a resident game room that will include an indoor golf simulator. Opened February 2018. www.solsticeorlando.com
 
Under new management, the International Palms Resort & Conference Center, a 653-room property had shut down for a 10-month renovation. It has been rebranded as Avanti Palms Resort & Conference Center. Renovations include lobby, guest rooms, dining areas, pools & 20,000 SF of meeting space. Grand re-opening March 2018. avantipalmsresort.com
 
Andy's Frozen Custard quick service frozen dessert restaurant is serving up sweet treats as of March 2018. www.eatandys.com
 
Voodoo Doughnut, known for their exclusive offerings and unique doughnuts, opened their doors at Universal's CityWalk this March 2018. blog.universalorlando.com
 
Residence Inn Marriott Universal Studios, opened a five-story, 145,000-square-foot, extended-stay hotel with 196 rooms, this March 2018. marriott.com
 
Fast and Furious: Supercharged officially opened April 23, 2018 at Universal Orlando. Buckle your seat belts and read about it here.
 
Dunkin Donuts has a new free-standing location with drive-thru on S. Kirkman. Opened May 2018. www.dunkindonuts.com
 
2018: A look at things to come
Ray Rush at Aquatica SeaWorld's Waterpark is a new family raft slide that will offer guests three unique slide elements, allowing them to slide, splash and soar. Expected opening May 12, 2018. aquatica.com
  
Air Force Fun Orlando Helicopter Tours at Orlando Crossings Mall is scheduled to 'take off' at Orlando Crossings Mall this May 2018. The 2,400-square-foot facility will include a two-story building with two helicopter pads. airforcefun.com
 
The Golden Pod Chocolate Bar, an Australian chocolate bar and cafe, is coming to International Drive this May 2018. thechocolateroom.com.au
  
Solaya Luxury Apartments to include eight four-story buildings with elevators, 322 units, 8,500-square-foot clubhouse. Completion spring 2018. www.livesolaya.com
 
Vineland Crossing, a two-tenant retail building is being built at the Regency Village Shopping Center. Starbucks is one confirmed tenant. Expected opening is spring 2018. www.srse.com
  
The Hilton Orlando is renovating their pool-area amenities. In addition to aesthetic updates, they are adding a children's splash pad, expanding the adult-only "quiet" pool and adding a new walk-in cooler to the pool bar area. Plans to expand the Marketplace area in the lobby are also underway.  The pool-area is expected to be completed late spring 2018.  The Marketplace completion is unknown at this time. www.thehiltonorlando.com
 
Starflyer-Vue at 360 will open the world's tallest spinning swing ride at 440 feet. The tower ride will reach speeds of 40 mph as riders reach the top and begin spinning. The ride will seat 24 passengers. Expected opening June 2018.
  
Hyatt House expects to open on I-Drive in June 2018. The $28 million property plans to have 175 rooms. house.hyatt.com
 
Hyatt House Orlando Universal started construction on their second Orlando location on Caravan Ct. It will be a 9-story hotel with 168 units. Opening July 2018. house.hyatt.com
 
Universal Orlando Resort has confirmed their sixth hotel, the Aventura Hotel. The hotel will be 17 stories with an all-glass design, including a lounge called Bar 17 Bistro. The 600-room hotel is scheduled to open August 16, 2018. blog.universalorlando.com
 
Vineland Pointe, a three-phase retail center along Daryl Carter Parkway, anticipates breaking ground in June 2017. Total of 69.41 acres and 447,500-square-feet of retail space, to include: Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls, Boot Barn, First Watch, Ulta Beauty, Midici: The Neopolitan Pizza Company, amongst others. Phase 1 opens August 2018. oconnorcp.com
  
7-Eleven is adding a new location on the north end of International Drive at Fun Spot Way. It will include a convenience store and gas station and is expected completion in August 2018. www.7-eleven.com
 
SeaWorld Orlando is ready to rush the rapids with Infinity Falls, a family river raft ride with the world's tallest river rapid drop, coming summer 2018. seaworldparks.com
 
Westgate Resort Condominiums is planning a second building, also eight-story, 80-unit is scheduled for completion summer 2018. westgateresorts.com
 
Kirkman Point II Office Development is a 134,000 SF, Class A, four-story office building with an accompanying five-story, 1215 space parking garage. Completion expected summer 2018. www.cbre.com
  
Home2 Suites by Hilton began construction on a new 6-story hotel with 122 units in June 2017. Anticipated opening is fall 2018. home2suites3.com
 
The Hollywood Plaza Parking Garage to open as a seven-story entertainment and parking complex located directly next to Mango’s Restaurant & Nightclub. To include a rooftop restaurant, 10 level, 880 space parking facility, 9,500 square-feet of ground level retail and office space. Opening 2018.
 
The Addison at Universal Blvd. apartment complex will feature 344 units on 12.1 acres. Expected completion in 2018. contravest.com/development/addison-universal-boulevard-orlando-fl/
 
The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) is in full swing with its Capital Improvement Plan, representing the largest renovation project in the venue’s history. Taking place primarily within the OCCC’s West Building, the plan includes upgrades and enhancements, as well as adding a number of new spaces like the new Tangerine ballroom, upgraded meeting rooms and boardrooms. For completions to date and upcoming projects, visit www.occc.net/cip. Full completion expected in 2018.
  
The Grand National 16.5-acre mixed-use project is underway on North International Drive. It will include 60,000 -square-feet of retail and restaurant space. Bahama Breeze, Starbucks, Longhorn Steakhouse and U.S. Gift Factory are already confirmed. A new TownePlace Suites by Marriott has also signed on for a 7-story, 148 unit hotel. Completion 2018 through 2020. www.naproperties.com/projects/grand-national/
  
2019 and beyond
SeaWorld Orlando is adding a Sesame Street themed land that will include rides, interactive experiences, character meets and a daily parade. Guests will be able to explore the iconic neighborhood first hand. Opening is scheduled for spring 2019. seaworldparks.com
 
A new Element Hotel is breaking ground this year at I-Drive 360. This 8-story, 165 unit hotel is anticipating a summer 2019 opening. www.starwoodhotels.com 
  
Surfside Inn & Suites and Dockside Inn & Suites are the much anticipated development on the former Wet 'n Wild property. The Surfside Inn & Suites will be a 750-room 'surf culture' themed resort and has a summer 2019 anticipated completion date. The Dockside Inn & Suites will be a  2,050-room resort with completion anticipated in 2020. The resorts combined will include three pools, two food courts, parking garage and poolside bars. blog.universalorlando.com
 
Sand Lake Road Improvement Project expects completion in late 2019 of work that includes widening to six lanes, bike paths and new sidewalks. Extends from I-Drive to Universal Blvd. cflroads.com
 
SKYPLEX Entertainment Complex will open with Skyscraper, the world’s tallest roller coaster at more than 500 feet. Also: SkyFall - a 450-foot drop ride, Skyfly - a 600-foot zipline, Skysurf Park, SkyLedge thrill experience, Sky Jump - 500-foot free fall dive attraction, SkyPlaza - retail & dining area, open-air promenade, indoor arcade, 450-room hotel, and go-kart track. Project size: 1.5 million square feet. Projected completion 2020. mangos.com/skyplex
 
I-Drive dedicated transit lanes from Sand Lake Road to the Beachline plan with projected completion in 2021. Approximately three miles of dedicated transit bus lanes from Sand Lake Road to the Beachline. New sidewalks, landscaping, and signage. orangecountyfl.net
 
Awaiting details
WoodSpring Suites Signature Hotel will begin construction late 2018. Completion is unknown for this 4-story, 139 room hotel. www.woodspring.com 
 
A six-story, 144 room Holiday Inn & Suites is being constructed near Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. Completion date is unknown currently. www.ihg.com  
 
Renaissance at SeaWorld is planning to add an additional 41,731-square-feet of new meeting space that will include a 16,503-square-foot ballroom. www.marriott.com 
 
Super Nintendo World is coming to Universal Orlando Resort.  This themed area will be expansive, immersive and interactive, filled with multiple attractions, shops and restaurants based on Nintendo's iconic games, heroes and villains. blog.universalorlando.com
  
Fun Spot America is planning an expansion to include new themes, incorporate new food & beverage partners, add coasters, water rides and much more. Visit fun-spot.com
 
I-Drive NASCAR will be doubling it's 5,000-square-foot meeting accommodations, adding more space and attractions to its gaming area and redesigning its bar and restaurant. idrivenascar.com
 
The Reserve at Shingle Creek Resort has a multi-phase expansion currently in progress. Phase one, completed early 2018, was golf course improvements. Phase two will include a 133,000 SF operations building with parking and a 36,000 SF laundry facility. Phase three will be a multi-level parking garage and phase four will include a 640 room, 16-story condo tower, walk-in pool & lazy river and 150,000 SF of additional convention space. rosenshinglecreek.com
 
I-Drive 2040 Vision Plan 
Recognizing the importance of creating a shared vision for the International Drive Area, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs appointed a Steering Review Group (SRG) composed of I-Drive-area stakeholders and landowners who are committed to maintaining I-Drive as the world’s premier global destination for tourism and family entertainment. She envisioned a vibrant International Drive corridor that would be a dynamic gathering place for visitors and residents alike. See the plan here.
 
Quotes from I-Drive stakeholders and partners:
"I have had the opportunity to call the Rosen Inn International (formerly the Quality Inn International) located at 7600 International Drive, my home, from 1974 to 1990. Now spanning some 42 plus years as an owner-operator of multiple hotels in the district, one can only imagine the tremendous growth and development we have had the distinct privilege of being intimately involved with.
 
The International Drive district features our World Class Orange County Convention Center, dozens of spectacular hotels, fine dining, and numerous exciting entertainment venues. In addition, specialty retailers and an assortment of merchants can be found on virtually every street corner. We currently enjoy a robust marketplace thanks to our diverse base of visitors; tourists, conventioneers and locals.
 
I remain confident that we will continue to adapt to our ever changing environment and provide the finest service and hospitality anywhere in the world. I am extremely optimistic regarding future development in the district and remain poised to do my part to ensure that I-Drive remains a legendary destination."
Harris Rosen, President, Rosen Hotels & Resorts
 
"Unicorp National Developments sees a very big future with International Drive. And as we are currently the largest property owner on I-Drive with 77 acres, our plan is to redevelop much of this property to take advantage of the exciting, new, urbanism vision that has been approved for the I-Drive District. This will include hotels, restaurants and even more entertainment. Thousands of Orlando Eye riders experience the landscape of Central Florida from 400 feet each day and we are excited to be part of I-Drive and the growth and future of Orange County. This is where it all happens and we are thrilled to be part of it."
Chuck Whittall, President Unicorp Companies
 
“International Drive is the most burgeoning entertainment district in the world, and Orange County is in the process of implementing the ground-breaking I-Drive 2040 Vision that sets the tone for the District to continue to be the most visited leisure and convention market in the world. We look forward to the future as we work toward the opening this year of our 800-space parking garage complex with a rooftop restaurant and to the future opening of Skyplex."
Joshua Wallack of Wallack Holdings, COO Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando /Managing Principal, Skyplex
 
“AMP Group / Perfumeland was born and raised on International Drive starting with just a 1,200-square- foot perfume shop in the mid 90’s. As Perfumeland grew, so did our company with a number of new investments into the International Drive area culminating with the addition of the Orlando Crossings Mall and I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing facility. Our company’s expansion is a direct result of the wonderful growth we have seen to Orlando and its tourism industry in the last few years. I-Drive has been a catalyst for the growth of our region. We are truly excited over the I-Drive 2040 Vision and what the future holds.”
Alejandro Pezzini, Chief Operating Officer, AMP Group
 
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For additional information on the I-Drive area, visit www.InternationalDriveOrlando.com
 
Contact: Luann Brooks, Executive Director
I-Drive Business Improvement District
www.IDriveDistrict.com
P: 407-248-9590
lbrooks@idrivedistrict.com
Orlando's Most Dynamic Destination!
 
Updated: May 2, 2018