All information provided by: VisitOrlando.com
Walt Disney World Resort will complete the final phase of New Fantasyland – the largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history – with the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster. This family coaster will transport guests on a musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine.” Magic Kingdom Park recently debuted Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, an all-new daytime parade featuring characters and music from memorable Disney films.
Universal Orlando Resort is building on the popularity of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, by bringing to life experiences and places found in and around London in the Harry Potter books and films. Diagon Alley and ‘London’ will be located within Universal Studios Florida, which is adjacent to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the current location for Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. When complete, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will feature shops, the Leaky Cauldron eatery and a new, multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts. Guests will be able to travel between London’s King’s Cross Station and Hogsmeade Station aboard the Hogwarts Express.
SeaWorld Orlando launched its 50th anniversary celebration March 21, 2014. The 18-month campaign, dubbed “A Sea of Surprises,” includes animal ambassadors located throughout the park giving visitors surprise encounters with animals; “Surprise Squads” giving away prizes such as free souvenirs or behind-the-scenes experiences; and “spontaneous entertainment” along park pathways. The park will also unveil a new Shamu show this summer.
Aquatica – SeaWorld’s Waterpark will open Orlando’s tallest and steepest free-fall waterslide on May 9. With slides nearly 80 feet tall (24 meters), Ihu’s Breakway Falls will be the only multi-drop tower slide of its kind in Orlando.
Wet ‘n Wild Orlando will open a new waterslide summer 2014. The Aqua Drag Racer will be six stories tall and propel guests through four lanes of head-to-head competition at fifteen feet per-second before splashing them across the finish line.
LEGOLAND Florida will bring the LEGO DUPLO line of preschool building toys to life for Orlando’s youngest visitors with DUPLO Valley. The new farm-themed attractions, including a train, mini tractor ride and water play area, are geared to toddlers ages 2 to 5.
Hotels and Resorts
Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort welcomed its first guests on March 31, 2014. This brand-new value and moderately-priced property is the fourth on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort and evokes the classic, retro-feel of iconic beach resorts from the 1950s and 60’s. The 1800-room hotel features 900 family suites and 900 standard guest rooms along with a 10-lane bowling alley, fitness center and two massive pool areas.
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is located just minutes from Magic Kingdom and Epcot. With 444 guest rooms (including 68 suites), a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, full-service spa, an elaborate pool area and a variety of dining options including a rooftop steakhouse, guests will be immersed in the luxury resort experience.
Pointe Orlando will add new dining and nightlife venues later this year, including Blue Martini (re-located from the Mall at Millenia), RA Sushi and Minus5° Ice Bar.
Universal Orlando Resort will welcome eight new venues across CityWalk in 2014. New dining offerings include Hog Dog Hall of Fame, CowFish, Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, Bread Box and Red Oven Pizza Bakery. The new options join guest favorites Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe and Pat O’Brien’s.
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will be the new home for Broadway productions and Orlando Ballet among other performances. Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, the $429 million arts center will include two performance theaters, a 300-seat community theater, outdoor plaza and banquet room.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) has approved plans to expand its passenger capacity. Originally designed to accommodate 24 million travelers annually, the airport plans to nearly double the capacity to 45 million travelers per year. Enhancements include maintenance of the existing facilities, expansion to achieve ultimate North Terminal capacity and improvement of international processing. Construction on the projects will begin in 2014 and conclude in 2017.
I Drive 360, a new entertainment complex located on International Drive, is scheduled to begin opening segments in spring 2014. The project is centered by a 425-foot (129.54-meter) observation wheel, slated to open February 2015. Other entertainment offerings include Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Sea Life Aquarium. The project also includes a variety of dining and shopping such as Red Robin, Starbucks, Seafood Republic, Buffalo Wild Wings and Walgreens.
Walt Disney World Resort is currently developing the multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. Featuring an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, this new expansion will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, to more than 150 establishments. The new area will open in phases with expected completion in 2016. Walt Disney World Resort has also announced details about the new Avatar-inspired land, set to open in 2017. The expansion, set to be the largest in Animal Kingdom’s history, will feature floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and a Banshee flying attraction, as well as new after-dark entertainment.
Hotels and Resorts
LEGOLAND Florida has announced plans of opening the LEGOLAND Hotel in 2015. The four-story hotel will feature 152 brightly colored and highly themed rooms and suites, LEGO décor, interactive play areas, a pool and a restaurant.
Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, home to the Capital One and Russell Athletic bowls, began renovations in January 2014. Renovations include replacement of the lower bowl, additional fan amenities and club space with an expected completion of January 2015.
Multipurpose Soccer Stadium will begin construction in spring 2014 with the anticipated opening of summer 2015. The stadium will be located in downtown Orlando in a developing entertainment center a block away from The Amway Center. The stadium will seat 18,000 and serve as home to the Orlando City Lions soccer team.