Orlando's tourism corridor: $2 billion in high-profile development planned through 2022 for the thriving I-Drive Resort Area

Orlando
ORLANDO, FL (January 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 Orlndo 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, Oasis at Grande Pines and Westwood Apartments. All helping to make the I-Drive Resort Area a great place to dine, shop, play and live!
 
2018: A look at things to come
Lexus of Orlando to build a 175,000-square-foot showroom and maintenance facility. Opened January 2018. www.lexusoforlando.com
  
Andy's Frozen Custard
quick service frozen dessert restaurant will be serving up sweet treats this February 2018. www.eatandys.com 
  
Under new management, the International Palms Resort & Conference Center, a 652-room property has shut down for a 10-month renovation. It will be rebranded as Avanti Palms Resort & Conference Center. Renovations include lobby, guest rooms, dining areas, pools & 20,000 SF of meeting space. Opening March 5, 2018. avantiresort.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 March 2018.
 
Air Force Fun Orlando Helicopter Tours at Orlando Crossings Mall is scheduled to 'take off' at Orlando Crossings Mall this March 2018. The 2,400-square-foot facility will include a two-story building with two helicopter pads. airforcefun.com
 
Solaya Luxury Apartments to include eight four-story buildings with elevators, 322 units, 8,500-square-foot clubhouse. Completion March 2018. www.livesolaya.com
 
Residence Inn Marriott Universal Studios, plans a five-story, 145,000-square-foot, extended-stay hotel with 196 rooms. Opening first quarter 2018. marriott.com
 
The International Drive widening project plans to complete its expansion from four to six lanes from South Westwood Blvd. to North Westwood Blvd. in January 2018. For more details, check here.
  
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 is spring 2018. aquaticabyseaworld.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 spring 2018. oconnorcp.com
 
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. Completion expected spring 2018. www.nwrliving.com
 
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
 
Home2 Suites by Hilton began construction on a new 6-story hotel with 122 units in June 2017. Anticipated opening is August 2018. home2suites3.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 rooftop bar.The 600-room hotel is scheduled to open August 2018.
 
SeaWorld Orlando is ready to rush the rapids with Infinity Falls, 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
 
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, along with a hotel. Bahama Breeze, Starbucks, Longhorn Steakhouse and U.S. Gift Factory are already confirmed. Completion 2018 through 2020. www.naproperties.com/projects/grand-national/
 
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.
 
Fast and Furious: Supercharged is coming in 2018 to Universal Orlando. Buckle your seat belts and read about it here.
 
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.
  
2019 and beyond
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, Sky Plaza - 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
Universal's "Project 370" is the much anticipated development on the former Wet 'n Wild property. It will include two hotels, a 2,050-room resort and a 750-room resort. The project will include three pools, two food courts, parking garage and poolside bars. blog.universalorlando.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
  
SeaWorld Orlando announced a new Sesame Street land will replace Shamu's Happy Harbor play area. seaworldparks.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 to add a 640-room, 16-story condo tower, walk-in pool and lazy river, additional golf holes, 133,000-square-foot operations building with parking, 36,000-square-foot laundry facility, 150,000-square-feet additional convention space and a multi-level parking garage. 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: January 24, 2018