The Tourism Construction Projects Driving Our Destination’s Growth
DISNEY: New experiences stir the imagination
Last summer, Disney generated tremendous excitement across the tourism universe when it revealed 14 new projects, most of which will open over the next few years at locations throughout the property. Two of the biggest are Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, both slated for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and opening in 2018 and 2019, respectively. As part of the announcement, new rides will include Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot, a Tron coaster on undeveloped land next to the Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain, and a gondola system (Disney Skyliner) linking the parks with nearby hotels.
UNIVERSAL: Supercharged expansion potential
Fast & Furious – Supercharged will soon take guests on a high-octane adventure into the world of underground racing. And the former Dragon Challenge coaster at Islands of Adventure gets new life in 2019 as a yet-unnamed thrill ride associated with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade area. Looking even farther out, and on a much larger scale, Universal continues to position itself for major growth, having secured 576 undeveloped acres — more than double the size of its current property — off Universal Boulevard in the I-Drive corridor.
SEAWORLD: Water-raft rides set for 2018
At SeaWorld and Aquatica, 2018 will feature a pair of new water-raft rides. Infinity Falls, opening this summer at SeaWorld, is inspired by the waterfalls and rapid rivers of the South American rainforest. It will boast the world’s tallest river rapid drop (40 feet) and be the centerpiece of a newly themed surrounding area. At Aquatica, Ray Rush opens this spring, providing guests with three ways to slide, splash and soar.
I-DRIVE: $2 billion in planned development
This year, the Orange County Convention Center is expected to complete its largest-ever renovation, and ongoing infrastructure improvements continue to enhance nearby roads. All along the I-Drive corridor — where $2 billion in high-profile development is planned through 2022 — a booming mix of apartments, hotels, attractions, restaurants and retail keeps transforming the landscape. Guiding it all is the I-Drive 2040 Vision Plan, led by a county-appointed group of stakeholders and landowners “committed to maintaining I-Drive as the world’s premier global destination for tourism and family entertainment.”
HOTELS: More capacity on the way
Orlando recently eclipsed 120,000 hotel rooms, with thousands more in the pipeline. Here are a few of the biggest projects:
• Margaritaville Resort Orlando will feature 175 rooms, 1,000 vacation homes, 300 timeshare units, a 12-acre waterpark, and a dining and entertainment district when it debuts in late 2018.
• At Disney, Coronado Springs Resort is in the process of adding a 15-story, 500-room tower, as well as a rooftop restaurant and lounge, to open in summer 2019. And an all-immersive Star Wars-inspired resort (launch date TBA) is in the planning phase.
• At Universal, Aventura Hotel, a 16-story, 600-room gleaming glass tower that includes Universal’s first-ever rooftop bar and grill, will open in August. Across I-4 on the former Wet ’n Wild property, a 2,800-room dual-hotel project is coming in 2019.
• The luxurious JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort, opening in the first quarter of 2020, will include 16 stories, 516 rooms, 50,000 square feet of conference space and a 23,000-square-foot ballroom.
“From creative new lands at the attractions… to major hotel expansions… to development along the I-Drive corridor, Orlando’s leading industry continues to build for the future. That’s great news not only for our tourism community, but for the economic growth of Central Florida as a whole.”
– George AgUel President & CEO of Visit Orlando