International Drive Development: A Look Back

2015: A banner year for development
This is the year it all began with the opening of these highly anticipated and landscape-changing projects:
ICON Park (formerly I-Drive 360), $200 million entertainment destination and home to The Wheel (formerly 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.
Joining ICON Orlando as part of ICON Orlando 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.
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.
In addition to these exciting, new attractions, visitors continue to find endless fun in the I-Drive Resort Area including six of the world's most famous theme parks (SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark, Universal Studios Orlando, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay Water Park), restaurants, dinner shows, shopping experiences, mega entertainment complexes, smaller family style attractions and spas.
2016: The trend continues
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.
2017: No slowing down
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 Orlando 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, Lantower Grande Pines and Westwood Apartments. All helping to make the I-Drive Resort Area a great place to dine, shop, play and live!
2018: A look back
Development was still going strong in 2018 with the District reporting on 32 projects throughout the year. Visitors can take to the skies via Air Force Fun North Helicopter Tours or the Orlando Starflyer. Ray Rush at Aquatica and Infinity Falls at SeaWorld both splashed onto the scene. Fast & Furious opened at Universal and Nomadic VR Games came online at Pointe Orlando. Enjoy some entertainment at the Rock Dinner Show & Orlando Forum or Route 65 Orlando. The Hollywood Plaza Entertainment Complex and parking garage opened their gates in December and we are eagerly awaiting additional dining and entertainment venues that are coming.
There was no shortage of new eateries opening in 2018: Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steakhouse & Starbucks all opened at Grand National. Those with a sweet tooth can visit Voodoo Doughnut at Universal's CityWalk, Dunkin Donuts or The Golden Pod Chocolate Bar. A second Starbucks opened on the south end at Vining Crossing. Avid shoppers will be pleased to visit Vineland Pointe - Phase I and U.S. Gift Factory at Grand National. Lexus of Orlando and 7-Eleven both opened in 2018 as well.
If you are looking for a place to rest your head, look no further. Aventura Hotel, Hyatt House Orlando Universal, and Residence Inn Near Universal Studios opened in 2018. Avanti Palms Resort & Conference Center, The Reserve at Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, and Hilton Orlando all had major renovations and/or upgrades. Solaya Luxury Apartments and the Solstice Apartments began leasing in 2018 also.
Finally, Kirkman Point II office complex and parking garage opened, the Orange County International Drive Widening project was completed, as well as the Orlando / Orange County Convention Center Capital Improvements project at the West Complex.
2019: Paving the way forward
The District tracked 21 completed projects in 2019. From attractions: Fun Spot's new Ferris Wheel, Hagrid's Magical Creatures at Universal Orlando Resort, KareKare Curl at Aquatica, and SeaWorld's new Sesame Street & corporate headquarters; to dining: Bigfire Restaurant, Burger Barn, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Mia's Italian Kitchen, Mikado, Saltgrass Steak House, and TODAY Cafe. Vineland Pointe Phases 2 & 3 are well underway with Target and the Cheesecake Factory opening this year. 
Staying over? There are plenty of choices for the weary, or not so weary traveler.  The Resort Area welcomed several new accommodations to the Area: Surfside Inn & Suites at Endless Summer Resort, Holiday Inn & Suites at Regency Village, Home2 Suites by Hilton, La Quinta Inn & Suites Orlando and WoodSpring Suites Signature Hotel. The Fountains Resort added a new tower and Renaissance at SeaWorld increased their meeting space. The Addison at Universal Apartments also starting leasing this year.
2020: Can't keep a good Resort Area down
While 2020 was definitely a unique year, the District still tracked 29 projects that were completed in 2020! Universal Orlando Resort introduced The Bourne Stuntacular live-action stunt show! Afrotainment TV Studios & Bronze Kingdom also opened. 
Your taste buds will dance with all the dining options that came online this year. Savory or sweet, mild or spicy, there is something for everyone on I-Drive: Camelo Pizzaria, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Mooyah Burgers, Ole Red, Ox Grill, PAC Pizzeria, Rodizio Grill, Smallcakes Cupcakery and Creamery, Taco Bell, and Walk-On's I-Drive Bistreaux & Bar. 
Visiting? We have plenty of options for the weary (or not so weary) traveler including: Element Orlando Universal Blvd., Dockside Inn & Suites at Endless Summer Resort, Tru by Hilton, Tryp by Wyndham SeaWorld, WorldMark Orlando Kingstown Reef and Wyndham Garden Orlando Universal/I-Drive. Don't want to leave? We've got you covered. Essex Luxe Apartments and Veere Apartments both started leasing this year.
Let's not forget about the power of retail therapy. Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets updated their food hall, landscaping & lighting as well as expanding their play area. Vineland Pointe continued construction on their three-phase retail center. I-Drive Retail at Four Points by Sheraton, DavidSW and a new 7-Eleven also opened.
If 'physical' therapy is more your speed, check out FiT PRiNT, an all inclusive personal training studio. We even have education covered with Orange County's Sunshine Elementary School that came online this year. 
Openings from 2021:
Sand Lake Road Improvement Project completed in March of 2021, includes widening to six lanes, bike paths and new sidewalks. Extends from I-Drive to Universal Blvd.
ICON Park had a record year and opened 7 new restaurants and attractions:
  • Museum of Illusions Orlando an interactive attraction, opened at ICON Park on January 9, 2021.
  • In The Game a restaurant with an arcade and visual experience, opened at ICON Park on March 16, 2021.
  • Build-A-Bear experience where guests can create their own stuffed animals from start to finished opened in June of 2021.
  • Gordon Ramsey Fish & Chips, a fast casual eatery serving Fish & Chips, and other dishes like shrimp, chicken and milkshakes opened in August, 2021.
  • Legendary Key West Saloon, Sloppy Joe's restaurant and bar opened in December, 2021.
Kann Caribbean Rum Bar and Bakery, took over the old Thai Silk location and is a restaurant boasting a Haitian Caribbean Cuisine. It opened in February, 2021.
Aloft and Element Orlando - International Drive South began construction in late 2018 on a 7-story dual hotel with 284 rooms. The Aloft side was completed February 2021 and the Element side was completed March 2021.
International Drive is now home to Florida's first Original Beer Spa, which opened in 2021. It is a concept where guests can soak and relax in a tub of beer, and sip on beer as well.
The Hampton Social became the newest addition to The Pointe Orlando in 2021. It moved into the former Tommy Bahama's eatery. This restaurant specializes in seafood, pizza & brunches. The restaurant opened February 18th 2021.
Additionally, The Pointe Orlando underwent a $32 million redevelopment project that started earlier in 2021. It includes The Link, a new 100' passageway, escalator, gathering space, upgraded valet areas, new landscape & signage, among other things. Phase 1 of the project completed in 2021.
Aquatica, SeaWorld's Water Park opened Riptide Race, a dueling water slide with a 68' tower, to add 650' of slide to their park. Debuted April, 3, 2021.
Two new restaurants opened at The Shops at The District Universal Boulevard this year. Moma's Cafe, a scratch kitchen serving fresh coffee, breakfast and lunch, opened on April 3, 2021. Slidders Pizza, a personalized gourmet pizza restaurant opened in 2021.
FunSpot America, announced Sky Hawk, a 90 foot tall swing ride which opened in June 2021.
Universal Orlando Resort constructed a new roller coaster in their Jurassic World area, called VelociCoaster. It officially opened to the public on June, 10 2021.
Jefferson Sand Lake Apartments, a 264-unit luxury apartment community, including two 5-story buildings and a 2-story clubhouse, was constructed surrounding Boo Boo Lake off of Turkey Lake Rd. The property started leasing as of June 2021.
Sand Lake Vista a mixed-use project that this apartment community is located inside, completed a 7-Eleven.
A new hotel under the Red Roof Inn flagship, Spot X by Red Collection opened in November 2021. The building was formerly supposed to be a Best Western Glo Hotel, but the 67,774 SF, 154 room property changed owners.
Located just south of Universal's Endless Summer Resort Legacy Universal Apartments started leasing in 2021 this apartment community includes 350 units and have 4-stories.
The Kirkman Road Resurfacing project began in August 2019. The 6.6 miles includes Kirkman Rd. from S.R. 408 to Sand Lake Rd. (excluding Conroy Rd. to International Drive). It was completed in Fall 2021.
In the South International Drive area, the Addison Lake Bryan Apartments, with 266 units, started leasing in Fall 2021.
Chick-fil-A started construction in February on a new location off of Universal Boulevard. The location is a 6,406 SF drive through restaurant. Project was completed September 2021.
Vineland Pointe announced the opening of Aldi in May of 2021 and Chick-fil-A in August 2021.
The former I-Drive NASCAR building announced a new owner, K1 Speed, which became home to 64,000 SF of Go-Kart attractions, a full restaurant, arcade, bowling lanes, retail and meeting room. The new attraction debuted in the summer of 2021.
The Kirkman Road Pedestrian Bridge was completed at the intersection of Kirkman Road and Major Blvd. This 186-foot steel-truss bridge will improve pedestrian safety across Kirkman Road. The bridge will be 14-feet wide and the project also includes improved sidewalks.
The Grand National 16.5-acre mixed-use project on North International Drive now includes 60,000 -square-feet of retail and restaurant space. A new TownePlace Suites by Marriott opened a 7-story, 148 unit hotel. Projects came online in 2019 and the new hotel opened in May of 2021.
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets is underwent a large redevelopment in 2021. Main areas of focus included lounge areas, entryway, food hall, enhanced signage and WiFi.
Vineland Pointe welcomed a new tenant, Crumbl Cookies, a bakery selling a wide variety of delicious treats.
A look at what happened in 2022:
2022 started by opening I-Drive's and America's first 2D Noodle Bar, Twenty Pho Hour. It opened in January 2022, and features an interior that resembles a coloring book.
ICON Park introduced Brother Jimmy's, a famous New York restaurant serving classic southern comfort food and North Carolina BBQ in the summer of 2022. ICON Park also opened a new attraction in 2022, The Carousel on the Promenade, a grand carousel , 36ft in diameter. 30 animals - horses, reindeer, rabbits, zebras and more. Max Action Arena opened fall 2022 at ICON Park. It is a 8,000 SF entertainment center featuring, Zero Latency VR, Adventure Rooms, Axe Throwing and an Escape Room.
An escape room has made its way to Universal City Walk. Universal's Great Movie Escape is two escape adventures inspired by 'Jurassic World' and 'Back to the Future'. Completed 2022.
Orchid Bay Shopping Center found a new tenant to replace the closed down CiCi's Pizzeria location.
Parrillada Familiar Da Silva, a Venezuelan Steakhouse, has taken over the former 6,000 SF CiCi's Pizzeria and opened in 2022.
A 345 unit, 4 to 5-story apartment complex is now leasing to the Universal area called Triton Cay Orlando - Universal Apartments. Phase I, completed December 2021. Phase II, includes an additional 165 units over 3.5 acres. Construction began in September 2021. This complex is now leasing as of January 2022.
Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando is a multi-directional launch coaster boasting a 93' tall spike with 100-degree angle. Opening date was February 2022. #BreakTheIce
In 2022 Vineland Pointe opened a Shake Shack in March. Kura Revolving Sushi Bar also opened in 2022. It is a restaurant serving a variety of Nigiri and rolls which travel to the customers on a conveyor belt.
One of Latin America's biggest soccer teams, Clube de Regatas do Flamengo Store Nação Rubro Negra, opened a 1,100 SF retail store and sells merchandise such as hats, jerseys etc., in 2022.
Parson's Xtreme Golf opened a store on I-Drive in 2022. It is a 10,000 SF retail store selling custom PXG golf clubs and apparel. It also features a golf simulator and putting green.
Estimated to complete construction in April 2022 and pre-leasing as of April 1st 2022 is Deseo Grande, a $54M, 5-story apartment complex with 365 units. An additional 365 unites were approved to be built in 2021. Completion date of the add on will be announced at a later date.
Sand Lake Vista opened a 4-story, 122-room Woodspring Suites Orlando I-4 & Convention Center which began booking in May 2022.
Dezerland opened a 6,000 SF food hall featuring five new restaurants including Amigo Burrito, Corner Burger, Fish & Chips, French Cafe and Pizza Time. Completed 2022.
The former Sweet Tomatoes location on I-Drive recieved a new tenant. Volcano Hot Pot & BBQ opened a second Central Florida location, fall of this year, and offers a variety of meats and vegetables are cooked at table frills or boiled in hot pots.
Aquatica, SeaWorld's water park opened another waterslide in 2022. Reef Plunge is 330ft of fiberglass waterslide, zooming past a vibrant array of marine life including Cummerson's dolphins, leopard sharks, sardines and a variety of other cold-water fish.
The Hollywood Plaza Garage next to Mango's Tropical Cafe, received some upgrades in 2022. Right outside the garage, a Dynamic Art Display has been constructed. It is ribbon-like and will face I-4 looking North toward Downtown Orlando. Right below the display, Walt Disney World has opened a merchandise and ticket store. It includes a Disney Vacation Club virtual discover station with floor-to-ceiling screens that tout the properties via virtual tours, photos and videos. It was also completed in 2022.
Hyatt Regency Orlando's Rocks Bar is undergoing some aesthetic upgrades including a new color palette and new banquette and lounge chair seating. It reopened in December 2022.
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) Troop D, Orlando office has moved into a space on International Drive just past Central Florida Parkway. It was completed in 2022.
Over on Turkey Lake Road, Bayfront Sand Lake Apartments are being constructed. They are 4-story, 376 units, 16.5 acre multi-family, luxury residential apartments that sit lakefront, and was completed December 2022.
A look back at 2023:
Holiday Inn Orlando I-Drive and Convention Center, formerly known as Allure Hotel, was opened in January 2023 after being renovated and is a 7-story, 223 room property.
Over at the Hyatt Regency Orlando the former Urban Tide restaurant was turned into Descend 21. It is a newly updated bar and lounge, with a terrace with fire pits, billiards and virtual golf. It was completed February 2023.
ICON Park, will created a new interactive photo experience at The Wheel, The Great Florida Road Trip, which follows the flamingo family on a photo travelogue vacation through mid-century Florida. Completed spring 2023.
Dezerland Park, opened a new 800+ SF virtual reality arena with several immersive scenarios. Completion was February 2023.
Aquatica opened a newly enhanced kid area, Turi's Kid Cove, (formerly Kata's Kookaburra Cove) with enhancements to the play elements, expansion of the existing pool and a new slide- Tamariki Twirl, completion was May 2023.
SeaWorld launched their new coaster, Pipeline: The Surf Coaster in May 2023, a one-of-a-kind ocean adventure.
Cambria Suites formerly known as Vib Hotel Orlando is under construction on Visitors Circle. The project is a 65,130SF, 5-story, 120 room property. The hotel was completed in May 2023.
2023 was a big year in new tenants for The Pointe Orlando, welcoming two new restaurants KAVAS Tacos + Tequila, a Mexican restaurant, completed in May 2023 and JoJo's Shake BAR, which focuses on creative desserts and classic diner fare,, completed in March 2023. As well as three new attractions, Will to Escape, an immersive escape room experience,, which was completed February 2023; The Greens Indoor Golf & Bar, an indoor golf simulator,, which opened in October 2023; and Earth Illuminated, a interactive photo experience offering over 40 unique photo scenes, which opened March 2023.
I-Drive gained a new dinner show, Polynesian Fire Luau, located in the former Roboland, and is an authentic Polynesian dinner show, it was completed summer 2023.
Universal Orlando welcomed the "Minions" and "Despicable Me" franchise to Universal Studios with the addition of Minion Land complete with Bake My Day retail shop, Minion Cafe and a new attraction: Illumination's Villain-Con Minion Blast summer 2023.
Vineland Pointe welcomed Pet Supermarket, a pet supplies retail store in late 2023.
International Drive welcomed a new anime and classic game arcade, restaurant and bar, Arcade Monsters, in the former Maali Restaurant/ Orlando Forum. Expected completion is 2023,
North I-Drive's remodeled International Festival Shopping Center now The Olinda Center, welcomed new tenants including: Burlington, TJ Maxx, Five Below and First Watch all in 2023. 
For additional information on the I-Drive area, visit
Contact: Luann Brooks, Executive Director
International Drive Business Improvement District
P: 407-248-9590
Orlando's Most Dynamic Destination!
Updated: January 3, 2024