What's New for May
ORLANDO, FL (May 2018) - Make plans now for a spring getaway to Central Florida as we head into April! The spring weather forecast is for sunny days and warm temperatures, so plan your spring break now!
Enjoy endless fun 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), restaurants, dinner shows, shopping experiences, mega entertainment complexes, smaller family style attractions and spas. The excitement never stops at the world-famous Orlando resort area and you will want to check out everything that is new!
SeaWorld Orlando is launching a brand-new event, Just for Kids Weekends, on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 through May 13, 2018. Dance, play, learn and share a day of kid-centric fun. The fun includes live concerts starring some of your child's favorite performers; rock with Elmo and dance with your Sesame Street friends at a kid-centric DJ party.
MegaCon Orlando returns to Orlando's Orange County Convention Center on May 24 through May 27 to celebrate all things pop culture. MegaCon Orlando is the South East’s largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event, attracting over 100,000 fans each year across four big days.
May is full of celebrations! Join the party for Cinco de Mayo, enjoy a Mother's Day brunch, reward your graduate for all their hard work or, our favorite reason, just because! For more I-Drive Resort Area events during the month of May and beyond, be sure to visit our online events calendar.
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!
2018: Newly opened
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 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
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
Upcoming events at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center:
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+, $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 100 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.
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
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.
2018: A look at things to come
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
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
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. aquatica.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
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 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
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
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