March Happenings on International Drive

ORLANDO, FL (March 2019) - Make plans now for an early spring getaway to Central Florida as we head into March! The I-Drive area is moving full speed ahead with exciting new attractions, accommodations, dining and much more! The weather forecast is for sunny days and warm temperatures, so plan your end-of-winter vacation 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!
  
March is the time for food, fun & festivals!
SeaWorld Orlando’s Seven Seas Food Festival returns this year with more dates than ever. Guests are invited to sip and sample their way around the world of international street food traditions every weekend from February 9 through May 5. In addition to delicious eats, guests visiting SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival can enjoy world-class entertainment each Saturday and Sunday at Bayside Stadium, all included with theme park admission.
 
Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras is unforgettable springtime fun for all. Enjoy nightly parades with outrageous street performers, colorful costumes and countless beads flying through the air. Catch some of the biggest names in music live in concert on select nights. Plus you’ll enjoy authentic New Orleans bands each night and mouthwatering Cajun food available for purchase.
 
Plan ahead
Upcoming events at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center:
Orlando Boat Show March 8-10 website
Sunshine Volleyball Classic - USA Volleyball Event March 15-17 website
American Open Cheer & Dance March 16-17 website
All-Star Challenge  March 30-31   website 
 
There is no shortage of things to do in March. Make sure you don't miss out. For a complete listing of March events 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
Lotus Asia House at Pointe Orlando celebrated their grand opening on February 21, 2019. They feature Asian-fusion & sushi cuisine. lotusasiahouse.com
 
Pointe Orlando welcomed Hopdoddy Burger Bar, an upscale burger restaurant, this February 2019.  Serving Angus burgers, salads, milkshakes & full bar, Hopdoddy opened in the space formally known as Funky Monkey. hopdoddy.com
   
The Renaissance at SeaWorld expanded their meeting areas by 30,000 SF, a 16% increase. Completed in February 2019. www.marriott.com 
 
Lucky's Market at Vineland Pointe opened this February. www.luckysmarket.com
  
Hot off the press…
Preferred Hotels & Resorts, announces a new partnership with Rosen Hotels & Resorts as the group's three largest hotels, Rosen Shingle CreekRosen 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 our website - 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
  
Go Mobile on I-Drive!
Looking for a way to navigate the I-Ride Trolley and the International Drive Resort Area on the go? We have several options. Download any of these free apps, including NextBus, Transit, Google Maps and Maps for iOS on your smart device to get real-time trolley arrivals, plan your trip as well as set alerts and reminders.
 
2019: A look at things to come
SeaWorld Orlando is adding Sesame Street that will include rides, interactive experiences, character meets and a daily parade. Guests will be able to explore the iconic neighborhood first hand. Opening just announced for March 27, 2019. seaworldorlando.com
 
Home2 Suites by Hilton began construction on a new 6-story hotel with 122 units. Anticipated opening is April 2019. home2suites3.com
 
The Fountains Resort is constructing Tower 9, a 10-story, 97 unit addition to the property. Completion is estimated for April 2019. www.bluegreenvacations.com 
 
TODAY Cafe will be opening at Universal Studios in the former Beverly Hills Boulangerie this spring. The cafe is being designed to look and feel like Studio 1A in New York City. It will serve a variety of sandwiches, salads, platters and pasteries. blog.universalorlando.com
  
Mia's Italian Kitchen is an 8,000 SF Italian restaurant moving into the former Don Pablo's at 8717 International Drive. Expected opening this spring. www.miasitalian.com
  
WoodSpring Suites Signature Hotel began construction late 2018. This 4-story, 139 room hotel has an anticipated opening for spring 2019. www.woodspring.com
  
The La Quinta Inn & Suites SeaWorld Orlando is anticipating a spring 2019 opening. This four-story, 101 room hotel will feature the new Del Sol prototype. www.rivierapmo.com/en/projects/la-quinta-inns-suites-seaworld-orlando
  
Dezerland Action Park plans to open their doors this spring 2019 to a 300,000 SF Orlando Auto Museum with hundreds of cars ranging from the 1930's to modern day. The goal is to be the largest auto museum in Florida. Additional entertainment will span another 250,000 SF of the complex. www.dezerlandactionpark.com
  
Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure is opening at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmead at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort on June 13, 2019. blog.universalorlando.com
  
A new Element Hotel has broken ground at Vue 360. This 8-story, 165 unit hotel is anticipating a summer 2019 opening. element-hotels.marriott.com 
  
The Endless Summer Resort is 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
 
SeaWorld Corporate Headquarters is relocating to a new 40,725 SF, 3-story building being built on Sea Harbor Drive at the previous employee-only parking lot. Expected completion in fall 2019. seaworldorlando.com
  
The Hampton Social will be moving into the former Tommy Bahama's eatery at Pointe Orlando. This restaurant specializes in seafood, pizza & brunches. Expected opening late 2019. www.thehamptonsocial.com
 
A 6-story, 144 room Holiday Inn & Suites at Regency Village is being constructed near Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. Expected completion is November 2019. www.ihg.com
  
Phases 2 & 3 of Vineland Pointe will be constructed concurrently and include a Target, Cheesecake Factory, and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Total project includes 69.41 acres and 447,500-square-feet of retail space. MOD Pizza, Duck Donuts, Rita's Italian Ice & Chipotle opening this year. Completion expected by Christmas 2019. oconnorcp.com
  
KareKare Curl at Aquatica will be splashing onto the scene this year. It is described as  a two-person, curve shaped wave slide ride with vertical wave wall. aquatica.com
 
Hyatt House expects to open on I-Drive in 2019. The $28 million property plans to have 175 rooms. house.hyatt.com
 
Mooyah Burgers & an arcade will be 'mooving' in to the Hollywood Plaza Entertainment Complex in 2019. www.mooyah.com
 
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. A new TownePlace Suites by Marriott has also signed on for a 7-story, 148 unit hotel. Projects began coming online in 2018 and will continue through 2020. www.naproperties.com/projects/grand-national/
  
2020 and beyond
Tru by Hilton, an 8-story, 259 suite concept hotel has just started their site work. The hotel will be located across from the Orange County Convention Center and has a target opening date of February 2020. tru3.hilton.com
  
ICON Orlando 360 has several new restaurants coming online. Blake Shelton's Ole Red Orlando will begin construction in early 2019 on their 15,000 SF, 2-level restaurant. A welcome addition to ICON Orlando 360, offering Southern food & hospitality and live Country music. Expected Opening is planned for spring 2020. olered.com/orlando Also coming in 2020 are the Ox Grill - contemporary cuisine and Mikado, a Japanese restaurant. iconorlando.com
 
GLo Hotel, a new boutique hotel brand from Best Western is under construction on Vineland Ave. This 4-story, 154 unit property is said to break the "cookie-cutter hotel mold." Expected completion is April 2020.  www.bestwesterndevelopers.com/portfolio/glo.php
 
Aloft and Element Hotel began construction in late 2018 on a 7-story dual hotel with 284 rooms. Estimated completion is in the third quarter of 2020. www.ad1global.com
 
Unicorp is planning $300M+ worth of additions and expansions to both ICON Orlando 360 and Wyndham Orlando Resort. Plans for two new hotel towers, totaling up to 800 rooms and additional meeting space are in the works for the Wyndham. ICON Orlando 360 will be adding several features including a double slingshot ride, a drop tower and a zipline ride. Openings are expected in 2020 and 2021. www.iconorlando.com
 
The iSquare Mall & Hotel anticipates an early 2019 ground breaking.  Including the flags Capella Suites and Solis Orlando Hotel, which will total two 23-story towers and 539 rooms, the project will also include a multi-level retail complex, seven-story parking garage, rooftop infinity pool, heliport and ice rink. Estimated completion is 2022. www.isquareusa.com
  
The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) continues work on the planned North-South Building Improvements. The two main projects include the Convention Way Grand Concourse and a Multipurpose Venue. Expected completion in 2023. www.occc.net
 
Awaiting details
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 unknown. facebook.com/skyplex
 
Construction of a new seven-story, 137 room hotel Wyndham Garden is underway on American Way. www.wyndhamhotels.com/wyndham-garden
 
The Comfort Suites Orlando SeaWorld has begun construction in January 2019 on a 6-story hotel, including 104 rooms. www.peakcm.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 was completed this spring 2018. The Marketplace completion is unknown at this time. www.thehiltonorlando.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
  
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
March 2019