What's New for March
ORLANDO, FL (March 2018) - Make plans now for an early spring getaway to Central Florida as we head into March! The I-Drive area is moving full speed ahead with exciting new attractions, accommodations, dining and much more! The weather forecast is for sunny days and warm temperatures, so plan your end-of-winter vacation now!
SeaWorld Orlando's Seven Seas Festival continues through April 15th. The park will be serving all-new dishes and fan-favorites to accompany world-class entertainment each Saturday and Sunday. Beyond delicious flavors, guests will discover dishes that are crafted with organic ingredients, cage-free eggs, regional produce and sustainable seafood. In addition, guests can choose from 70 beers and 50 wines to pair with these specialty food items. And don't forget the entertainment: concerts include Alabama, Chris Young, Daughtry & Hanson... to name a few.
Party hardy at Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras through April 7th. Experience an authentic New Orleans celebration filled with dazzling parades each night with outrageous street performers, colorful costumes and countless beads flying through the air. Hear tunes from authentic New Orleans bands and chow down on mouthwatering Cajun food available for purchase. Plus, on select nights you can catch some of the biggest names in music, live in concert including: Andy Grammer, Jason Derulo, Fifth Harmony, Jessie J, Foreigner and more.
Who says you have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this March 17th? Looking for some place to get your green on? You don't need the Luck of the Irish to find the fun & festivities on International Drive, our events calendar is the only list you need for all the hot spots.
It's not too early to start making plans for Easter, which falls on Sunday, April 1st this year. Several hotels and restaurants are featuring special buffets or menus for the holiday. You can find them on our events calendar. Check back as it is updated regularly.
If you haven’t been to the Resort Area lately…don’t miss these recent openings
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
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.
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!
Upcoming events at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center:
|Orlando Boat Show||Mar. 2-4||website|
|Orlando Home Show 2018||Mar. 10-11||website|
|Europa Games Supplement, Nutrition & Apparel Expo||Apr. 15||website|
Hot off the press…
Preferred Hotels & Resorts, announces a new partnership with Rosen Hotels & Resorts as the group's three largest hotels, Rosen Shingle Creek, Rosen Centre, and Rosen Plaza, become fully branded members within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio.
Orlando International Airport (OIA) plans completion of its $2.15 billion south terminal project for fall 2020. The project will coincide with major theme park expansions.
New overpass provides ease of travel for visitors
A long-awaited connection for both tourists and businesses along International Drive soon has opened. The Grand National Overpass, part of the $2.3 billion I-4 Ultimate project, connects Grand National Drive to Caravan Court and provides easier access between the popular retail and entertainment areas of I-Drive on the east side of Interstate 4 with the attractions and hotels on the west side for pedestrians and cars. The overpass includes pedestrian walkways and access ramps for both eastbound and westbound express lanes as part of the project’s overall effort to increase safety and mobility.
Check out I-Ride Trolley... the Fun Way to Get Around I-Drive!
As one of the most popular attractions in Orlando’s tourist corridor, the I-Ride Trolley Service has provided an affordable, fun and convenient way to transport visitors to the attractions, shopping, restaurants and accommodations in the International Drive Resort Area.
Fare: Single cash fare, $2.00 per ride; kids cash fare ages 3-9, $1.00 per ride; senior cash fare age 65 and over, $0.25 per ride. Unlimited ride passes are available: one-day pass, $5.00 per person; three-day pass, $7.00 per person; five-day pass, $9.00 per person; seven-day pass, $12.00 per person; 14-day pass, $18.00 per person.
Since it began in 1997, it has been considered the easiest way to travel, allowing visitors to park their cars, save some money and enjoy the ride. And it got easier with a fleet of trolleys equipped with a state-of-the-art automated vehicle location system (AVLS) known as NextBus. With Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, NextBus technology provides predicted vehicle arrival information and live maps to visitors.
I- Ride Trolley information is available via the Internet, smartphones and text messaging. Each of the 105 Trolley stops provides a QR code that visitors may scan for access to a new mobile site - iDrive2Go.mobi - dedicated to the International Drive Resort Area. In addition, the trolley equipment includes security cameras on each vehicle, automatic passenger counters, automated stop announcement system, LED destination signage and LED exterior accent lighting visible day and night.
Go Mobile on I-Drive!
With iDrive2Go.mobi, guests find loads of options for dining, shopping or attractions on I-Drive. The I-Ride Trolley section provides “NextTrolley” information as well as maps and listings of what is near each trolley stop. Access to the mobile site is obtained by QR scanning, SMS texting or by simply going to iDrive2Go.mobi on a smart phone.
The trolleys operate from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. daily. Details along with downloadable maps may be found at http://www.iridetrolley.com
Coming attractions and improvements...
Lexus of Orlando to build a 175,000-square-foot showroom and maintenance facility. Opened January 2018. www.lexusoforlando.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
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
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.
2019 and beyond
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
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