More than $1 Billion in development planned through 2016 for the International Drive Area

ORLANDO, FL--It’s an exciting and busy time in Orlando’s I-Drive area with new attractions, dining, entertainment, accommodations and much more.
 
2014 openings:
 
Explore more of the wizarding world than ever before at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Diagon Alley is now open at Universal Studios Florida. Enter Diagon Alley from the streets of London. Dine at the Leaky Cauldron, see a wand choose a wizard at Ollivanders wand shop, and experience the excitement of a multi-dimensional new thrill ride inside Gringotts bank. Check here for details.
 
SeaWorld® Orlando has officially opened its newest water ride, Ihu's Breakaway Falls, at Aquatica, SeaWorld's Waterpark™. The new attraction drops guests 80 feet beginning with a dramatic, vertical plunge. Click here for the full story or visit www.aquaticabyseaworld.com.
 
"Aqua Drag Racer" has opened at Wet 'n Wild and stands 60 feet tall giving park guests the chance to race each other through interlocking tunnels and down steep hills, while riding face-first on their stomachs atop a foam mat. www.wetnwildorlando.com
 
Universal Orlando – Cabana Bay Beach Resort by Loews Hotels & Resorts is open with 1800 rooms including 900 family suites. Visit www.UniversalOrlando.com.
 
Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive completed a multi-million dollar renovation that began in 2012. The landmark resort has reemerged with sophisticated new guestrooms, lobby and meeting spaces. With Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando within easy reach of this pet-friendly, Orlando resort, free shuttle service is provided to both parks. And the Orange County Convention Center just one mile away. For details about the renovation: Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive.
 
Minus5 º Ice Bar, the premium ice attraction in the United States has opened at Pointe Orlando. Everything inside Minus 5º Ice Bar is made of 100% ice; the walls, the bar, the seats and even the glasses to drink your cocktails. Patrons are provided outerwear and gloves so that they can enjoy an LED light show and upbeat music in the pristine surroundings. www.minus5experience.com.
 
RA Sushi has opened at Pointe Orlando with 6,395 square feet. Offering popular music and distinctive Japanese fusion cuisine this is not your typical sushi restaurant. Part of the Benihana company portfolio, the restaurant is consistently awarded for its fresh sushi, creative cocktails, happy hour, and musically inspired nightlife. www.RAsushi.com.
  
Artegon, Festival Bay's transformation into the new, $70 million, 1.1 million-square-foot mall, Artegon Orlando is open. The Artegon Marketplace Orlando is an entirely new shopping concept for the region described as being inspired by the world’s famous marketplaces, from Seattle’s Pike Place and Boston’s Faneuil Hall to the London Flower Market. described Steven Sless, executive vice president for Paragon Outlet Partners. The Village at Artegon Marketplace houses 165 artisanal shops and stores where local craftspeople sell and demonstrate their products and services. Among the offerings are hand-made leather goods, accessories, jewelry, sculpture, mixed media artwork, custom clothing and locally-sourced foods. Artegon Marketplace Orlando is anchored by Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Ron Jon Surf Shop Cinemark Theaters, Sheplers Western Stores, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.
 
Operating hours are 11am-9 pm Monday-Saturday and 11am-7pm on Sunday. Artisan studios will be open Monday-Saturday 11am-8pm and noon-6pm on Sunday. For more details and photos, visit www.artegonorlando.com or 407-351-7718. 
 
North I-Drive Improvement Project opened Dec. 18, just in time for a busy new year! The new 1.5-mile stretch includes improvements for pedestrian safety in the area and helps to relieve traffic congestion. From Universal Boulevard to Oak Ridge Road, the project incorporates a series of multimodal improvements that provide for existing traffic and future growth. Improvements include the construction of an exclusive lane for buses and right turns, new bike lanes, new 10-foot wide sidewalks and streetscape elements. Check it out here.
 
I-Drive NASCAR has opened with the go-kart attraction, developed by AMP Group/Perfumeland. It will provide Orlando's visitors with a myriad of activities to do in Orlando's North International Drive tourist corridor, including state-of-the-art go-kart racing, bowling and arcade games, a sit down restaurant/bar, meeting space and more. Click here to see inside the attraction. Latest details: http://www.idrivenascar.com/
 
A new bar and restaurant from Nashville's Music Row opened at the end of December at the new I-Drive 360 venue. Live music joint and eatery, Tin Roof, will open its first Florida location in December at I-Drive Live. The Orlando location will be the Nashville, Tenn.-based chain's 14th location in the U.S. The 5,000-square-foot bar and restaurant will seat 210, with 155 indoor seats and 55 outdoor seats. Tin Roof is known for hosting top local and regional bands ranging from rock to alternative to country music. In addition, Tin Roof will be open for lunch and dinner, featuring favorites like the Hot Chicken Torta Mexican-style sandwich, Big Farmer Dave's Quesadilla and Kentuckyaki Wings with a sauce that includes bourbon, soy, sorghum, garlic and ginger. www.tinroofbars.com/home/Orlando
 
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill opened its first Central Florida location this month at Artegon Marketplace. The restaurant features the chain's trademark 95-foot guitar-shaped bar, a stage for live country music concerts, beer in mason jars and more. The location also is set to draw country music favorites like Dustin Lynch, Parmalee, Rodney Atkins, Jana Kramer and Chris Cagle, who are set to perform across the country and will make their way to Artegon Marketplace in 2015. Details: www.countrybarorlando.com 
 
Blue Martini, is relocating to Pointe Orlando with a modern design including an expansive outdoor patio overlooking International Drive. Known for offering 42 signature Martini's specialty cocktails, fine wines & spirits and appetizers, the premier martini bar is popular for after-work cocktails, happy hour and nightlife. Opening expected in February 2015. www.bluemartinilounge.com  
  
Development and redevelopment plans:
“The planned development and redevelopment for our area signal an optimistic upturn in the economy,” says Luann Brooks, executive director of the International Drive Improvement District.
 
“Exciting new attractions, accommodations, resorts, shopping, dining and commercial real estate development within Orlando’s tourist corridor will serve to attract new visitors to the destination and offer many reasons for our returning guests to visit.”
 
Plan ahead: exciting new attractions, dining, entertainment, shopping
 
It's taking shape and I-Drive 360 º featuring The Orlando Eye is scheduled to open in spring 2015. The 400-foot observation wheel is part of the Unicorp National Development Inc. massive shopping/dining/entertainment complex on International Drive. To see photos and updates, click here.
 
The wheel will come equipped with 30 of the 6,600-pound capsules, and each capsule will hold 15 people — reaching a maximum wheel-capacity of 450 people at one time. The wheel will continuously load and unload passengers as it rotates. Also, the capsules will be air-conditioned and include audio effects for riders' 20-minute experience. Click here for photos and live webcam.
 
The complex is slated to include two other attractions by Merlin Entertainments, a Orlando Sea Life Aquarium (check out the latest update here) and a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Cowgirls Country Western Bar and Sugar Factory candy store and restaurant will open by February 2015. Skeletons: Animals Unveiled is a museum attraction slated to open in March 2015. Details: www.unicorpusa.com www.i-drive360.com
 
And there is more news: Unicorp National Developments Inc. announced the new 420-foot Star Flyer swing attraction that is coming is coming to the Vue at 360, formerly known as Kings Plaza and the Gooding's Plaza. The attraction, set to open by 2016, will stand on the corner of I-Drive and Jamaican Court.
 
Recently opened as part of the complex: Yard House Orlando with an American fusion menu and a laid-back atmosphere, the 14,000-square-foot eatery has a list of 140 beers and a seating capacity of 350, between the expansive dining area and patio seating. The location's bare concrete wall treatment is also unusual for the Yard House brand. That, plus the visible metal pipes from the keg room highlighting the dining room and bar area ceiling, give the whole interior a hip, industrial feel. www.yardhouse.com/FL/orlando-restaurant/ or 407-351-8220.
 
Also newly opened are Carrabba's Italian Grill and Outback Steakhouse.  Future tenants for the complex include Buffalo Wild Wings, Seafood Republic and a country western bar, Cowgirls. Other new tenants include Dick's Last Resort, Ben & Jerry's, Pretzelmaker, Cafe de Paris, Tin Roof: Live Music Joint, Shake Shack,  & Sugar Factory, according to Unicorp. www.unicorpusa.com. Total investment: $200 million.
 
Skyscraper at the SkyPlex
SKYPLEX indoor entertainment complex which will include the first Polercoaster, a vertical ride dubbed the Skyscraper, weaves throughout the 570-foot tall tower. The complex is being built at the northeast corner of Sand Lake Road and International Drive. The SKYPLEX will also include 495,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Ground breaking is expecting sometime in 2015 with completion of the project with opening in 2016. At the top of the Skyscraper guests will experience an observation deck and the region's tallest glass elevators. There will also be a restaurant and lounge atop the observation deck that will provide views of Orlando and the surrounding area. Included with this project will be a 1,500-space parking garage. www.skyplex.com. Total Investment: $200 million.
  
Loews Hotels & Resorts announces it will bring a 1,000-room hotel to Universal Orlando Resort by summer 2016. Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, will be the fifth hotel at Universal Orlando. The resort will have a Caribbean theme and 131,000 square feet of meeting space, according to an official release. The hotel will be located between the recently opened Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort. It will also include 77 suites and boost Universal Orlando's total room count up to 5,200. Visit www.loewshotels.com/Sapphire-Falls-Resort.
 
I-Shops on I-Drive
LongHorn Steakhouse, Chuy's Tex-Mex Restaurant and BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse are now open at the new I-Shops complex.
 
Anchored by an 18,000-square-foot, tourist-centered Walgreens, other tenants of this retail and dining complex are expected to include Cooper Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Wawa, Cold Stone Creamery/Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Resort Partners, O'Neill's surf shop, Starbucks, and a UPS Store. www.unicorpusa.com. Total Investment: $100 million.
 
iSquare Mall+Hotel
Work on the planned $300 million-$400 million multilevel upscale mall is expected to begin by summer. In addition to the mall, the project includes an upscale mall with international retailers, along with a 26-story hotel and multi-level mall, an indoor ice skating rink, a 100,000-square-foot convention center, a 500-seat live performance theater and a rooftop observation deck with rotating restaurant. Opening is planned for summer 2017. www.iSquareUSA.com.
  
More openings:
Mango's Tropical Café & Nightclub Complex
Planning to open fall 2015, the $30 million, 55,000-square-foot Mango's Tropical Café restaurant and nightclub at the corner of I-Drive and Sand Lake Road. Mango's is slated to give conventioneers and tourists another entertainment venue in the I-Drive corridor. www.orlando.mangos.com
 
Wallack Holdings LLC - Developer / owner of Mango's is replacing an existing Walgreens with a new multistory parking garage next to Mango's and is looking to add a 12,000- to 15,000-square-foot glass-enclosed restaurant with outdoor patio atop that seven-story public parking garage. The garage also is slated to have about 12,000 square feet of ground-level retail space.
 
The first Hyatt House in Orlando is on tap for at 5374 International Drive. The proposed eight- story, 175- room hotel is a limited service, extended stay brand of Hyatt Hotels. www.house.hyatt.com. Total investment $12 million.
 
Improvement projects:
Orange County Convention Center Five Year Capital Improvement Plan Underway
The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in undergoing a major capital-improvement project expected to last for the next several years, and is estimated at approximately $187 million. For details on the progress, visit www.occc.net/CIP/
 
For additional information, hot deals and assistance planning a vacation in the I-Drive area, visit www.internationaldriveorlando.com.
 
Contact: Wrenda Goodwyn, Communications Director
International Drive Resort Area
International Drive Improvement District
P: 239-949-1808
F: 239-949-1635
Orlando's Most Dynamic Destination!
January 2015