This year has surely been a very exciting and busy time for International Drive thanks to all the new attractions, dining, and entertainment, venues that opened in the area. For returning visitors as well as those coming to the area for the first time, there is a huge selection of new experiences (and that's in addition to the great theme parks located nearby). With everything happening in the area, it's no wonder that Travel+Leisure named Orlando one of the best places to visit.
In this press release (from the official site of International Drive District) we will take a quick look at some of the new additions that debuted in the past few months as well as some of the future projects:
1) I-Drive 360, Orlando’s new $200 million entertainment destination and home to The Orlando Eye is now open. Located in the heart of International Drive, the Orlando Eye’s 400-foot, iconic observation wheel is the centerpiece of this themed complex featuring a dynamic blend of attractions, restaurants, and shops. Joining the Orlando Eye as part of I-Drive 360’s unique line-up of attractions are world-famous Madame Tussaud’s, SEA LIFE Aquarium and Skeletons: Animals Unveiled!
In addition, the complex includes restaurants, shops and entertainment venues: iCafe de Paris, Sugar Factory restaurant and upscale candy shop, Tin Roof live music bar, Cowgirls Rockbar Orlando country western bar, Paramount Fine Foods, Naru Restaurant & Sushi Bar and Tapa Toro. I-Shops retail and dining complex is home to BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, Cooper's Hawk Winery, Chuy's Tex-Mex restaurant, LongHorn Steakhouse and Walgreens.
2) At Pointe Orlando, Lafayette’s Music Room has opened featuring acts ranging from Americana to alternative rock, progressive country and jazz. The restaurant combines the musical influence of New Orleans; Austin, Texas, Nashville and Memphis, along with up-and-coming musical talent and local musicians. Guests also enjoy a New Orleans-inspired menu.
Blue Martini has relocated 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 and nightlife.
Also at Pointe Orlando, RA Sushi has opened 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 and creative cocktails.
3) Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tours has opened on Hawaiian Court. Tours are offered each hour on the hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
4) Orlando Crossings International Drive has completed $2.5 million in renovations and redevelopment on North International Drive. With more than 15 stores and restaurants, the shopping complex also offers a post office, full service concierge and money exchange. The complex is anchored by I-Drive’s first full-scale supermarket, Seabra Supermarkets, a 17,000-square-foot store.
5) North I-Drive Improvement Project has opened with a new 1.5-mile stretch that 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.
6) I-Drive NASCAR opened with the go-kart attraction, developed by AMP Group/Perfumeland. Includes: state-of-the-art go-kart racing, bowling and arcade games, a sit down restaurant/bar, meeting space and more.
7) Artegon Marketplace, Festival Bay's transformation into the new, $70 million, 1.1 million-square-foot mall, has officially opened. Its Artegon Marketplace Orlando is a 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. The Village at Artegon Marketplace houses 165 artisanal shops and stores where local craftspeople sell and demonstrate their products and services.
8) Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant has opened with more than 6,000 bottles of wine that can be seen stored on walls all throughout the venue. The 12,400-square-foot eatery is part of Unicorp National Developments Inc.’s $200 million I-Shops project. The restaurant seats up to 340 people, which includes indoor and outdoor seating with patio space.
9) The gators arrived at Fun Spot America with the opening of Gator Spot, a 15,000-square-foot extension of Gatorland. The addition includes three ponds to house baby gators, giant gators and crocodiles. A separate building houses a white gator.
1) Mango's Tropical Café is planning to open a December opening. The $30 million, 55,000-square-foot Mango's Tropical Café restaurant and nightclub at the corner of I-Drive and Sand Lake Road will provide nonstop live entertainment, dancing, dining. The adjacent $14 million, 226,502-square-foot Hollywood Plaza parking complex to include 9,000 square feet of ground-level retail space and a 10,257-square-foot, glass-enclosed rooftop restaurant. Expected opening is 2016.
2) The iconic Oerther Foods-owned McDonald's restaurant, located on the northwest corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road, is being rebuilt and transformed into the new "World's Largest Entertainment McDonald's." The almost 19,000-square-foot restaurant has welcomed millions of guests from all over the world since opening in 1976. Completion for the 19,000-square-foot restaurant is scheduled for summer 2016 but the current restaurant will remain open throughout the construction project.
3) StarFlyer at Vue 360 will feature a chair swing ride that will stand 420 feet tall. The attraction will be built next to the Outback Steakhouse at the former Gooding's Plaza, which will be renamed the Vue at 360. The Star Flyer will include of 12 double-seat swing chairs, sending up to 24 riders spinning more than 400 feet in the air for three to four. Completion is expected to be late 2016.
4) SkyPlex will include the world's tallest zip line and the world's largest drop ride that will stand at more than 460 feet and join the 570-foot-tall Skyscraper coaster. The area is expected to open in 2017.
5) iSquare Mall+Hotel will be an upscale, multi-level mall with international retailers, along with a 26-story hotel, spa 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. The hotel is currently expected to be fully operational by summer 2017.
6) I-Drive's overhead pedestrian bridge is scheduled for completion in 2017. The 410-foot enclosed pedestrian bridge that will connect the plaza outside the Hyatt Regency Orlando to the Orange County Convention Center, just across from the Linda Chapin Theater. The bridge also will have an escalator leading from the hotel plaza to bridge, and will follow the path of the existing crosswalk but will be above International Drive. The project is being managed by Orange County.
For additional information about the I-Drive area, be sure to visit www.internationaldriveorlando.com.