A News page for the Orlando’s areas other Minor Attractions and Resort properties
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(10/9/15) iSquare Mall Site Prep Begins (MORE...)
(10/8/15) Orlando - Skyplex Sticks With 2018 Opening Date After All (MORE...)
(10/5/15) Orlando - Skyplex Mentions Possible Opening Date (MORE...)
(9/30/15) 400 Prime Acres For Sale In November (MORE...)
You can find our review of the I-Drive 360 attractions (Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and SeaLife Aquarium here.
Central Florida News - (9/30/15) According to a post on GrowthSpotter, a sale date of November 18th has been set to sell off over 400 acres of undeveloped property east of Universal Blvd, north of the convention center. It could be very interesting to see who grabs this very valuable property up.
(9/29/15) Orlando themed entertainment fans, you now have another reason to visit the Florida Mall again... with the opening of the official ThinkGeek store... filled to the brim with geeky goodness. Behind the Thrills has posted a fun video tour of the new store, so check it out below.
(9/23/15) The Orlando Eye is now offering a special rate for Florida Residents to ride for just $18 for adults, $13 for children (3-12) with proof of residency. You can buy them at the attraction or online at www.OfficialOrlandoEye.com.
(9/3/15) OrlandoParksNews has posted an update going over some proposed long-term improvement projects for the Kennedy Space Center. Their speculation is based on the old KSC masterplan which has already seen the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit added and word begun to open a new Astronaut Hall of Fame next year. New future project could include an expansion and upgrade to the IMAX Theater, the addition of a nighttime spectacular show and a possible observation tower over the next 5 years.
(8/20/15) OrlandoParksNews has posted a great series of images, showing off the latest aerial images of Central Florida's theme parks as pulled from NearMap, which gives off some great views of all your favorite new attraction projects, under construction.
(8/7/15) I remember reporting sometime late last year about how a magic shop had opened at Old Town (called The Great Magic Hall), which would offer some performances on-site by magicians. At the time it sounded like a similar set-up to the old Magic Masters shop that used to be at Downtown Disney, who would perform various feats of magic throughout the night for the guests in the store, some involving some interesting props, and others meant to get you to buy a particular trick in the store and take it home with you.
Apparently The Great Magic Hall in Old Town is a little different, as they try to sell you $10 tickets to see the performers... if you happen to be there at the right time. According to a post about their current status on ThemeParkUniversity, they've been in an extended period of being semi soft-open for months now... with the goal to fully open before the end of the year, but as they can't even be bothered to update their website or social media channels in months, the future may not be very bright for them either. Give the article a read and if you've had your own experience there you would like to share, I'd love to hear about it.
2016? - Old Town Renovation - (7/30/15) Acording to the Orlando Sentinel, Old Town in Kissimmee will be getting a $10 million makeover soon that will seen new restaurants, restrooms, more parking, a concert stage and more added to the site... along with one more oddity. A new Ferris Wheel... as part of the project's plans to redevelop the entrance area to be more eye-catching.
Previously we saw Old Town remove all the rides, including a long-standing Ferris Wheel from the entrance area in an attempt to revamp itself... but while I'm all about adding rides, I'm not sure adding a Ferris Wheel to the front will cut it this time. After all... most Orlando Tourists have had their eyes on the much bigger and eye catching Orlando Eye instead. Adding a wheel to Old Town now may get more of a "Meh..." response these days. Perhaps it is time to come up with a new idea.
2018 - Skyscraper at the SKYPLEX - Confirmed - (10/8/15) Quick note, as I received official word from the Skyplex team that the opening of the Skyplex has still be pushed back to 2018, and the tweet about 2017 was in error.
(10/5/15) According to a tweet from the official Skyplex account, we will see the Skyplex tower and coaster "light up the Orlando Skyline by 2017". Odd choice of words however, because they don't exactly promise that that either will be open...only that they will light up the skyline. Hmmmm....
(9/1/15) Skyplex showed off some great new renderings of the Skyplex complex on Twitter on Monday.
(7/29/15) I got to admit, I'm a bit disappointed right now... as I so wanted to see the Skyplex / Skyscraper coaster project succeed, amid a sea of nay-sayers. I haven't see the press release myself yet, but Behind the Thrills has just announced that despite all the early plans and references to the Skyscraper coaster being from S&S Worldwide, US Thrillrides has now backtracked in a big way and announced that the coaster ride system will be coming from Intamin instead.
I'm not sure where S&S stands on this latest revelation, if they were dropped, outbid, or perhaps they themselves opted out of the project, but my confidence level for this ride just went from an a high 8 down to a 4. Longtime readers know I'm no Intamin fan-boy... and while they have made some pretty fantastic rides out there (especially for Hersheypark)... they've also made some of the worst in terms of reliability and downtime issues, as well as rides being involved in a number of high profile accidents involving rider injury and deaths over the years, especially where riders have been thrown from the vehicles on coasters, drop towers and water based attractions.
The list of incidents is easy to find for yourselves if you look up ride names like Hydro, Perilous Plunge, Superman Tower of Power, Drop Zone, and Shoot the Rapids to name but a few. Sorry folks, but my gut just says this is the wrong move for this project.
(7/3/15) Good news for the Skyplex project, it seems they have passed one major hurdle that was holding back the start of construction. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the FAA and finally weighed in on the 700-foot tall tower project and officially deemed that it "poses no hazard to air traffic". The ruling will be official on Monday, if there are no worthy objections sent in by today to the FAA. Following that the Skyplex plans have been given the green light by Orange County's Development Review Committee and will next go before the Planning and Zoning officials on August 20th for approval before going before the County Commissioners for the final approval. Following that the Skyplex will just need to get their final permitting filed before they can begin construction.
(6/16/15) The Orlando Sentinel reports that a Surf Park has been added to the plans for the massive Skyplex complex now. The plan is to put three pools on top of the 10-story parking garage, arranged so that surfers in the pools can face the Skyplex tower while riding on the stationary surf wave machines. The goal is to make it a virtual "beach scene" up there, with a bar and all, and they anticipate locals buying annual pass memberships to hang out up there year-round. While the plans and design work are still in flux obviously, they are hoping to have a good portion of the project complete by 2017 at this point if all goes well. They will first start work on the tower itself before begining work on the connecting Skyplaza area where the Perkin's will go.
(5/7/15) The Skyplex dropped another bomb announcement this week, growing the project yet even bigger before they can even stick the first shovel into the ground. According to this article they are now planning on having a 350-room on-site hotel as well to the north of the Skyplex tower. Some new artwork showing off the location of the hotel portion of the resort can be found in this Tweet.
(3/5/15) In an unexpected bit of news the Skyplex project has expanded and is now even bigger, now taking over the corner spot occupied by Perkins. The expanded site will now add the SkyPLAZA, a retail complex that will feature the world's largest Perkins Restaurant and Bakery (10,000 sqft) and be connected to the main SkyPlex via an elevated walkway. The more ground level path of the Skyscraper coaster itself has also been changed to fly out over the the SkyPLAZA and hit a high overbanked turn just above the corner of I-Drive and Sand Lake Rd. All this, along with the previously announced SkyFall 450 ft drop ride (from Intamin) will open in 2017. Check out the new animation of the complex and all new coaster layout below.
(2/13/15) While the SkyPlex announced yesterday their plans to open the world's tallest freefall drop ride at 450 feet, it seems that they may have jumped the gun a little bit on that claim. A few hundred miles to the south the SkyRise Miami tower has begun the first phases of construction on their 1000 foot tall waterfront tower project. In addition to the controlled Sky Plunge extreme jump attraction the tower will also include the SkyRise Drop... a true freefall tower ride style attraction featuring a bench of 12 seats across that will rise and drop riders approximately 650 feet and approach a speed of 95 mph before hitting the magnetic brakes at the bottom.
So it will be somewhat of a race for the SkyPlex to open their project first, especially since they have yet to begin actual construction on the site yet. Meanwhile the SkyRise Miami project is already hard at work setting up the foundation for their massive tower, though not without troubles of their own as they are sell working on getting all their funding to build the finished tower through an EB-5 investor program. Meanwhile the Miami-Dade County has been hit with a lawsuit intended to block a $9 million grant offered to SkyRise Miami because when the project was put to a public ballot, it said the tower would be entirely privately funded.
(2/12/15) Orlando will soon be home to the world's tallest freefall attraction. According to the latest press release from the Skyplex people, the towering attraction will include SKYFALL, a 450 foot freefall drop ride from the tower as well. The current record for a freefall ride is Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure which drops riders 415 feet. The press release also mentions that the Skyplex will have a 55-story Glass Elevator ride for those taking a trip up to the observation deck at the top.
(12/18/14) According to this article the owners of the Skyplex complex have bought a new 1.5 acre site on Canada Ave for $1.2 million. The site, previously used as parting for the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure show, will be used as additional parking for the Skyplex. This is in addition to plots they already own for the Skyplex site, the 7-11 on I-Drive site (which has already closed down) as well as the World Bowling Center site.
(11/27/14) I mentioned this on the Screamscape Facebook page about a week ago, but I thought it was good enough that I should be mentioned here as well. When watching the new animated video of the SkyScraper at SKYPLEX coaster, the other dramatic difference I noticed other than the coaster was that a large “ring” style platform was added, surrounding the top end of the tower itself.
The addition of the ride would have no effect on the coaster layout, but why would they go to the added expence to add such a structure to the tower unless it served some other purpose. With that in mind, I suspect the SKYPLEX may be planning to add up to two more scary as hell high-altitude attractions to their offerings. Based on attractions I’ve seen installed on other high-tower creations, the ring itself immediately brought to mind the famous SkyWalk attraction in New Zealand, which also has a similar catwalk ring around the top of the tower, where guests strap on a ropes course style safety harness and jumpsuit and go out for a very high up walk around the outside of the tower on this ring structure. In addition to this, I’m also expecting them to install a SkyJump style drop experience like the one on the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas and also on in New Zealand. Adding this to the ring addition would also give them a way to drop guests down to the ground in a controlled decent while getting the drop cables out and away from the coaster track around the center of the tower. Time will tell if my hunch is right.
(11/18/14) An AMAZING new animated video showing off the true layout of the Skyscraper at SKYPLEX coaster has gone live this week, including some truely incredible looking POV shots from a layout which is far more impressive and crazy looking that anything we had initially anticipated seeing from a ride strapped to the side of round tower. Seriously, this looks like it could be one of the more intense and visually scary coaster layouts ever designed, all so very high in the sky. I hope the gift shop sells clean underwear at the bottom… some people are going to need it.
(6/6/14) Skyscraper Skyplex was officially announced on Thursday morning, and will indeed be located just about where I said it would off the North/East corner of the I-Drive and Sand Lake intersection. Officially the name will be “The Skyscraper at SKYPLEX”, with the Skyscraper as the coaster and the SKYPLEX as the entire complex, who is being created by the owners of the soon to open Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando and the existing Mango’s Tropical Café South Beach. The entire site is 12 acres, after the Wallacks managed to purchase five contiguous sites to merge together for the SKYPLEX, including 300 feet along I-Drive itself.
The obvious lure of the $200 million SKYPLEX will be the project’s massive 570 foot tall tower, home to the Skyscraper roller coaster, the world’s first PolerCoaster from US Thrill Rides. This will be the world’s tallest roller coaster, without a doubt, that will feature some interesting inversions way up in the sky, as well as a run around the rest of the SKYPLEX near the bottom, running out to I-Drive and back to the tower at the end.
Those who want the view without the thrills can ride the glass elevator up to the observation floor, 535 feet in the air, where you will be able to look down upon the nearby 425 foot Orlando Eye observation wheel from both the observation deck, as well as the restaurant at the top of the tower.
They aren’t planning on breaking ground on the property until early 2015, with the hope of still being able to open in 2016. This seems a bit ambitious to me, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. For all the official information, you can also visit the official SKYPLEX website.
(6/2/14) I think I’ve figured out the site for the Skyscraper Skyplex, on the north end side of Sand Lake just east of International Drive, straddling I-Drive on one side and Canada Ave on the other, taking up what is now mostly a vacant lot behind the 7-11 and Burger King just to the north of Perkins. And Perkins is the key… because if you look at this one piece of concept art for the Skyplex, that building with the distinctive roof in the lower right corner of the picture is the Perkins restaurant at the corner of I-Drive and Sand Lake. While the exact position isn’t quite as clear, it looks like it could possibly replace the 7-11, Burger King and even the tourist T-Shirt buildings with structures of it’s own to serve as an entry portal to the complex, as you can see the iconic IHOP roof just behind the new building following by the Tilted Kilt building. The multi-level parking structure behind the Skyplex appears as if it will border up next to the World Bowling Center / Dowdy Pavilion that will sit just to the north of it.
(5/31/14) I’ve suspected as much, but the local news has uncovered evidence suggesting that the long awaited PolerCoaster project is headed to Orlando’s own Orange County. According to the report, the developer of the Mango’s Tropical Cafe project on I-Drive is also behind the PolerCoaster. While the Mango’s construction site is replacing the former TGIFridays restaurant area on I-Drive, just south of Sand Lake, it seems they have also purchased the Walgreens site on the corner to use for parking, though they also own another nearby site which was originally intended host a multi-level parking garage instead, which now could be used for the PolerCoaster.
So is this the PolerCoaster? Screamscape’s own research has been doing some digging as well, which has long indicated that the attraction’s only chance for success would see it logically located somewhere in Orlando’s tourist district. We’ve also found a project proposal that may give you a grander idea of the total vision for the complex that would house a project of this size.
In a proposal we have uncovered, they call it the Skyscraper Skyplex. A huge project who’s future (and financing) is dependant upon the money of wealthy foreigners seeking to gain US Visas through a major investment (either $500,000 or $1 million) into a large project via the VISA EB5 program.
According to this proposal the Skyscraper Skyplex would feature a numbrer of attractions on the ground, ranging from indoor go-karts, adult party rooms, bars, billiards, game arcades, simulators, etc broken up into Family Game areas and Adult Game areas along with a large food court area and the Apex Sports Bar.
Towering over it all however is the 530+ foot tower structure that will feature the Skyplex Restaurant at the top, a fine dining experience which you will access via the area’s tallest glass elevator ride. After the kitchen closes, a DJ will come out and the site will transform into a hip bar / lounge area, where you can enjoy drinks and view the Orlando skyline as the various fireworks shows from the surrounding theme parks in the area go off in the distance. Below the restaurant level will be the Skyplex Observation deck, 534 feet high, so you can admire the view without venturing into the restaurant… for the cost of admission of course.
Wrapped around the tower itself is the Skyscraper… their name for the PolarCoaster. As the world’s tallest roller coaster, they say that no trip to Orlando will be complete without a ride on the Skyscraper which will rise 500 foot into the sky before you begin your wild ride back down to earth. Cameras will be mounted inside each car so you can buy the video of your experience to share online with your friends.
Connected to it all with be a 1584-space multi-level parking structure which will offer both self parking and valet options, which will provide direct access right into the Skyscraper Skyplex. They are also designing the roof of this garage structure with the ability to be rented out or used for special events, such as concerts in the sky, convention group gatherings, and more.
???? - iSquare Mall - Planning - (10/9/15) Orlando Biz Journal reports that some early site prep work for the iSquare Mall & Hotel project at the corner of I-Drive and Kirkman has begun.
(7/29/15) Now that I-Drive 360 and the Orlando Eye have opened at last, some of you may recall another project announced just down the road at about the same time by the name of iSquare. The $400-million project for the connected mall and hotel at the corner of I-Drive and Kirkman is still on, but keeps going through various redesigns and is now expected to finally begin construction sometime next year. Did I say Hotel? Make that two hotels now... one of which will be a 7-Star Hotel (I had no idea there was such a thing...) where the nightly room rate could run you between $400 to $10,000 a night. Say Ouch! And you thought Disney World was expensive...
The design of the hotel really is something else... nothing at all like anything you've seen in Orlando before... or just about anywhere. It looks nothing like the older artwork we still have posted below, as the concept has changed dramatically. You can see a video and concept art posted to the local WESH update.
(6/10/14) It seems the plans for the proposed iSquare hotel/mall concept (See our 5/3/14 story below) is undergoing some tweaking to reduce it in size after running into some size / density limits from the city. Look for a revised press release about the new version of the concept to be released later this year.
(5/3/14) Artwork for the unique looking iSquare Mall and Hotel planned to replace a strip-mall at the north end of I-Drive and Kirkman, were put on display this last week. It is a large 31-story tall structure that will include an observation tower looking structure, with a rotating restaurant at the top, a mall area full of retail and dining opportunities as well as over 1,250 guests rooms.