PHOTOS: New Terminal C Officially Opens at Orlando International Airport

Flights are finally beginning to take off at Orlando International Airport’s new $2.8 billion Terminal C, marking a momentous occasion for the airport and the terminal’s designers and builders.

Although turning the airport’s vision into reality required navigating an unprecedented number of challenges, the end result is a facility that addresses the airport’s exponential growth and is prepared to serve an increasingly diverse mix of passengers seeking access to Central Florida.

Terminal C encompasses 300 acres and adds 15 gates capable of accommodating up to 20 aircraft, including narrow body, jumbo, and super-jumbo jets, and includes informational video displays in the ticket halls, concession hub and gate areas plus interactive, immersive multimedia features that will provide high-definition visual entertainment. Designed for certification as one of the first LEED v4 airport campuses, Terminal C reflects Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) longstanding commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Kevin Thibault says Terminal C is a direct reflection of GOAA’s commitment to the overall passenger experience. “We strive to use cutting-edge technology and best practices in everything we do,” Thibault says. “Above all else, we seek to recognize the many diverse types of passengers who use our airport.”

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

The 15-gate terminal was designed by Fentress Architects, in coordination with architect-of-record HNTB. A Turner-Kiewit joint venture and Hensel Phelps served as construction managers. The Netherlands-based Vanderlande Industries held the design-build-operate-maintain contract for the Baggage Handling System while Burns Engineering served as the project’s prime technology engineer.

Thibault has participated in numerous complex aviation projects over the years, but nothing compares to the teamwork he witnessed at Terminal C. “This was truly a team effort,” he says.

It was a project at a massive scale, with an average of more than 1,000 workers on site daily throughout construction of the terminal that required nearly 4 million cubic yards of dirt to be moved and more than 61,000 tons of steel put in place.

Phase 1 was originally designed to include 15 gates, then eventually included an expansion with four additional gates. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the airport in spring 2020, the airport paused the expansion, then later added the expansion back as airport traffic returned to pre-COVID levels.

Safety Features

Orlando International Airport has always made the safety of the traveling public a top priority, and
Terminal C builds on that commitment. Operationally, Terminal C is full of “firsts,” with numerous enhancements in both the pre-security and post-security areas, creating a seamless, secure and efficient experience for travelers.

Features Include:
• “Bags-first” design to expedite international travelers through the Customs & Border Protection process.
• Interconnected Emergency Response Systems to identify hazards and alert first responders.
• Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) to boost radio signal frequencies and ensure communication between operations teams and emergency responders.
• Visual Surveillance System (VSS), a network of digital cameras across the terminal.
• Ramp Information Display System (RIDS) for ground and flight crews, communicating real-time data that improves the efficiency and safety of boarding and takeoff operations.
• Virtual Ramp Control (VRC), allowing air traffic controllers to guide aircraft as quickly and safely as possible, while reducing taxiing time.


From the moment they enter Terminal C, visitors are immersed in dozens of innovative technology systems that support both the building and its functionality, while expediting the passenger process. From baggage handling to screening to wayfinding, passengers can navigate Terminal C more efficiently, thanks to high-tech features.

More than 1,000 high-definition informational displays guide travelers from check-in through boarding. Never before seen in an aviation space, large-scale multimedia Public Art installations with custom-created content provide 12–15K immersive and interactive visual experiences to explore the knowns and unknowns of greater Central Florida.

Behind the scenes at Terminal C, intuitive technology also enhances safety and security:
• 100 percent automated screening lanes in TSA checkpoints.
• 100 percent facial recognition systems for international arrivals and departures.
• Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) Tote Baggage Handling System, allowing baggage to be tracked in real time.
• Virtual Ramp Control Systems, providing controllers with unobstructed visibility of airfield traffic.
• Passive Optical Network (PON) using fiber-optic infrastructure to create a high-speed, energy-efficient IT system.
• Queue Management System (QMS), which monitors security lines and displays wait times and security updates.
• Common-Use Passenger Processing that allows dynamic coordination between airlines at ticketing and boarding gates.


Designed for certification as one of the first LEED® v4 airport campuses, Terminal C reflects Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) longstanding commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. From its original planning stages to the present day, MCO has supported sustainable concepts and has strived to preserve natural lands. Only 30 percent of the airport’s 12,000 acres is developed; the remainder has been left in its natural state, which is diverse with wetlands, hardwood forests and dozens of lakes and bodies of water.

Respect and appreciation for nature is evident in Terminal C’s architecture and layout, which celebrate Central Florida’s wildlife and lush, colorful landscapes. The building’s strategic design also targets energy and water efficiency measures, resiliency and indoor air quality.

Specific Sustainability Measures Include:
• 35 percent targeted reduction in potable water use through efficient fixtures, faucets, and equipment.
• 25 percent targeted reduction in energy costs with a focus on thermal performance, as well as optimal design in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
• Refrigerants that function with minima-lto-zero global warming potential and ozone depletion potential.
• A 360-panel floating solar array – the first on airport property – that produces 123 kilowatts of energy and reduces 196 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
• Towering “Forever Trees,” sustainably created using preserved materials from live palms and cypress.

Terminal C Offerings:

• More than 33 retail and food and beverage concepts, including local and national brands.
• Boutique and duty-free shopping.
• Engaging shopping experiences, including eco-friendly art by local artists and a touch-screen display where travelers can plan their next vacation.
• The Plaza Premium Lounge, featuring a dedicated area for families, a restaurant and bar, and quiet spaces ideal for business travelers.
• Streamlined layout with more than 90 percent of concessions located near the gates, enhancing the
customer experience before and after the flight.

Terminal C Concession:

• Eola Market
• Starbucks
• Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon
• Shake Shack
• PGA Tour Grill
• Orange County Brewers
• Harvest & Grounds
• Raw Juce
• Summer House Orlando
• Greenbeat
• Desano Pizzeria
• Cucina & Co.
• Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co.
• Wine Bar George
• Provisions by Cask & Larder
• Olde Hearth Bread Co.
• Sunshine Diner by Chef Art Smith
• Orlando Brewing Bar & Bites
• Cask & Larder Public House
• Gatlin Trade
• Sunglass Hut and Brighton
• Trip Advisor
• The Scoop
• Main Street Market with Einstein Bros. Bagels
• Replenish with Illy Coffee
• City Arts Market
• Walt Disney World
• Universal Studios
• SeaWorld
• 3Sixty Duty Free
• Chick-Fil-A
• Plaza Premium Lounge

With national brand offerings and storefronts from the region’s top theme park attractions – Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando – as well as local flavors such as Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co., Wine Bar George, Orange County Brewers and Cask & Larder, the new terminal gives the traveling public access to more than 80,000 square feet of dynamic concessions spanning the pre-security and post-security areas.
Looking to plan and book an Orlando-area vacation? Contact Destinations with Character Travel Services, LLC., specialists in all things Orlando, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld! Destinations with Characters is a Disney EarMarked agency and the official travel agency of Orlando Theme Park News!

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