A News page for the Orlando’s areas other Minor Attractions and Resort properties
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(12/11/13) Orlando Park News has posted a new photo report from I-Drive Live (MORE...)
(12/11/13) Research on the old Lockheed property project (MORE...)
(12/9/13) Our friends at Behind the Thrills spotted steel ride support columns for the new OrlandoEye (MORE...)
(12/5/13) Is another park project on the way to Orlando? (MORE...)
(12/4/13) Orlando’s long running Arabian Nights dinner show has announced that it will be closing up for good on December 31st, wrapping up a 25 year history of performances (MORE...)
Click Here for a summary of Now Open 2013 Attraction
Central Florida News - (12/11/13) Curious to know more about who owns the former Lockheed property? A few of our readers did a little digging to find out what they could.
“I checked the 2013 Orange County parcel records and that area is owned by Fourth Quarter Properties 129 LLC, with an owner address of 45 Ansley Dr. Newnan, GA. They are a privately held real estate management company, so I guess I haven't really answered the question. If this means anything, the property is called "UCPM-SITE DEVELOPMENT SOUTH END".”
According to another reader, “The owner of the site, is a man named Stan Thomas, he is the head of an investment group called Forth Quarter Properties. This company is on the verge of bankruptcy and owes the state of Florida back taxes for most, if not all of the years since the mid 2000's.” They also attached a link from a mid 2012 news story about the tax debt issues at the time.
(12/5/13) Is another park project on the way to Orlando? I haven’t heard anything about this myself, but ParkScope reports that a section of Universal’s old Lockheed property may be looking to be developed once again with a 300 acre theme park, retail and a 663 room hotel.
If you don’t know the history of the property… all of the land in this area was bought by Universal long ago from Lockheed and required some extensive clean-up of Lockheed’s waste products that took years to handle. Universal’s vision at the time was to build a couple more parks (one big, one small) down in this general area along with several new hotels, a golf course, retail areas and much more. Unfortunately before they could push ahead with the actual construction of any of this, Universal was bought out by Vivendi, who fell upon hard times and proceeded to cut apart and sell off this property in order to make a quick buck before they sold off the entire company to NBC.
From the look of things, this looks to be about the only sections of that property that hasn’t been redeveloped as something else already, but is this a sign of a new project or just an echo of old plans coming to light once again? From the look of other documents posted on Orlando United, these are all new and current 2013 documents, which suggests that the owners are trying to get all their ducks in a row as far as the basic zoning use for the property. Who actually OWNS the property now is an entirely new mystery… did this somehow fall back into Universal’s hands or there is a new player involved in the marketplace?
If anyone has any leads, please do let me know.
(12/4/13) Orlando’s long running Arabian Nights dinner show has announced that it will be closing up for good on December 31st, wrapping up a 25 year history of performances. According to the owner, Mark Miller, the attraction was no longer able to produce the kind of revenue needed to support the show. “Unfortunately, we have reached a point where the marketplace demands a cheaper product than we can provide”.
The owner will look into other possible business uses for the Arabian Nights show building, including an outright sale of the land it sits upon itself, which has a prime location just off I-4 and Highway 192. For the rest of the year, fans of the show can see a Christmas version of the Arabian Nights show at a discount rate, with Centrial Florida Residents being offered half-priced admission.
I’m kind of bummed about this story… as a long time Orlando visitor and even a resident for 6 years, for one reason or another I somehow never got the chance to see the Arabian Nights show myself. Such a shame to see it vanish into the history books alongside Dixie Stampede and King Henry’s Feast.
(11/7/13) BusinessWeek reports that the Great Orlando Wheel Corp. who was once planning on building their own 400+ ft tall giant wheel not far from SeaWorld Orlando has been placed under the control of a receiver in order to liquidate the assets. They were sued in early August by a German investor group who claims to have invested $63 million into the company, who was headed by the same group who built the massive Singapore Flyer giant wheel which has also been put into receivership earlier this year. The company had been trying to sell the 20-acre site for $12 million.
(8/29/13) Orlando’s infamous Peabody hotel next to the huge Orange County Convention Center was sold to Hyatt Hotels Corp for $717 million. The Peabody had just completed a massive expansion not long ago that increased the resorts total number of rooms to 1641. After the deal closes on October 1st the hotel will be renamed Hyatt Regency Orlando Convention Center. As for the Peabody’s infamous ducks… they wont be staying. The ducks will be retired to a farm and eventually released back into the wild.
(8/19/13) According to the Orlando Sentinel Arabian Nights has launched a new version of their famous dinner theater show. Click here to find out a bit more about what is new this time around.
(4/29/13) Is the Fantasy of Flight attraction located along I-4 about half way between Orlando and Tampa falling on hard times? According to the local news the attraction has announced a cutback in hours of operation from 7-days a week to now only operating 4-days a week (Thursday-Sunday). The schedule change will see a cutback in the number of staff employed at the park and anonymous sources also reported to the paper that 10 upper level jobs have already been eliminated including the GM and Senior Operations Manager. Fantasy of Flight is considered to be the world’s largest private collection of vintage aircraft, including many models from World War II.
2013 - Hard Knocks: Pointe Orlando - Now Open - (8/4/13) Orlando warriors… a new Hard Knocks location is now open. You may recall us mentioning Hard Knocks some time ago when they opened their first indoor urban themed laser combat arena over in Orlando’s University district, far away from the prying eyes of tourists. Now I’m happy to report that they have opened a brand new facility right in the heart of Pointe Orlando on I-Drive. They feature different themed ‘Indoor War’ combat arenas and weapon types, based on real world weapons. Add into the mix one of over 70 different combat mission and you will certainly find each experience different and challenging. Look up all the details at the official website. I look forward to trying this one out myself the next time I visit Orlando.
2013 - Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Theater - (7/15/13) Orlando Wrestling fans take note… the next Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Theater event will take place on August 30th, 2013 at The Reunion Resort in the Grande Hotel Ballroom (in Kissimmee). Adults are $40 and kids under 12 are just $25, 3 and under are free. You can get $5 off admission purchased online on their website by entering the code, “5OFFMANOR”.
(6/11/13) It seems a new dinner theater show has quietly slipped into the Orlando area, unknown by most. Hidden in secret venues around Orlando and Kissimmee is the new Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Theater. Yep… you read that name right… “professional wrestling” and “dinner theater” used together in a sentence. There is an official website, though the content is very light and tries to convey that there is a story involved with the show as the forces of good and evil fight to win the Manor Medallion.
So how is it? Make the jump over to our friends at Theme Park University who are the first ones I know of who have had a chance to view the new show and review it properly. The interesting thing is that the show only takes place about once a month and moves from one location to another, typically held in a fancy Central Florida hotel ballroom or convention center space. The food is also high end, and likely the creation of that particular resorts kitchen. All said and done, they enjoyed this new experimental show… and it should be interesting to see if it can not only take off, but perhaps even lock down into a permanent location as time goes on.
For those interested, the next public show on the schedule is not until August 30, 2013… location: TBD. Keep your eyes open here for more details as the date gets closer.
2013 - Legends Dark Amusements - (10/31/13) A fun video review of Legends: A Haunting at Old Town can be found at OnezumiVerse this week. They were quite impressed… so check it out!
(10/14/13) Good news Orlando… you finally have a new year-round haunted house in town as Legends: A Haunting at Old Town is now open, replacing the former Grimm House. You can find a quick review of the new haunt posted to Behind The Thrills this week.
(5/6/13) A new haunt is coming to Orlando in a familiar location…. Old Town. The Haunted Grimm House, the last remaining year-round haunt in Orlando, quietly closed down earlier this year but was bought by a new haunt company and is currently being given a huge overhaul to reopen this summer.
The new name is “Legends Dark Amusements” and they already have an official Facebook page up and running with a fun tagline, “Old Town. New Fear.” The new attraction will feature the “Legends, A Haunting at Old Town” haunt of course, but also Legends Ghost of Old Town & Haunted History Tour and The Stuff of Legends Gift Shop. Look for it to open sometime between June and July if all goes well.
From what I’ve been told, the new haunt will include several new amazing animatronic effects that are being installed. There is also an interesting link to the show Making Monsters on the Travel Channel. I’ve been told that the group is involved in making some of the new animatronics for Legends.
Late 2013 - ICE! @ The Gaylord Palms - (11/26/13) MouseSteps takes us for a look into this year’s ICE! 2013 display at the Gaylord Palms. It is themed to Frosty the Snowman this year and they’ve made excellent ice versions of all your favorite characters. Seriously… from the pictures ICE looks fabulous this year… one of the best I’ve ever seen, as they have really brought the animated special to life in three dimensions.
(7/18/13) The official word from the Gaylord Palms Orlando that ICE will return once again this winter, this time with a Frosty the Snowman theme. ICE will be open from Nov. 23, 2013 through to Jan. 5, 2014. Click here for the official details.
Early 2014 - I-Drive Indoor Kart Racing -
(7/23/13) The OBJ reports that a new indoor go-kart racing attraction will come to International Drive by the name of I-Drive Indoor Kart Racing. The $5 million attraction is said to be state of the art and will offer something not seen on I-Drive before. Construction will begin next month and they hope to open as early as January 2014.
When finished, the attraction will feature a two-level building with a half-mile go-kart track, bowling lanes, arcade as well as several food and beverage options build inside an existing warehouse structure about a block behind I-Drive on Vanguard St, across I-Drive from the Sonic.
(11/30/12) Information from the city of Orlando regarding a planned new Indoor Go Kart attraction one block back from the northern section of I-Drive can be found here. Looks like someone wants to renovate an old warehouse building just outside the Tanglo Park neighborhood, across the street from the Sonic on I-Drive. The ironic thing is that this site is across the opposite corner from the property once proposed for the Orlando Thrill Park.
2014 - Radbourne Skatepark at Festival Bay - In Development - (10/12/13) While the project was delayed and missed the promised Spring 2013 opening, I’ve been led to believe the former Vans Skatepark will reopen under the Radbourne name sometime in 2014 with some new surprises.
(12/19/12) The Vans Skatepark at Festival Bay that closed back in Janaury 2012 will soon reopen. A new group is coming in to take over and will reopen it as Radbourne Skatepark at Festival Bay in March 2013. They report that the attraction will be reinvented and improved to be even better than it was before.
2015 - Orlando Eye / Madame Tussauds / I-Drive Live / I-Shops - (12/11/13) Orlando Park News has posted a new photo report from I-Drive Live, giving us the latest look at this major new Orlando project under construction, including more pieces of the Orlando Eye on site.
(12/9/13) Our friends at Behind the Thrills spotted steel ride support collums for the new OrlandoEye giant wheel arriving on site this week. Check out the picture here.
(11/12/13) A construction update from the Orlando Eye building site has been posted to OrlandoUnited this week. Just scroll down to see the newest pictures.
(8/29/13) According to this article the Orlando Eye 425 foot giant wheel is being made by Intamin. While the project is far enough out to present an exact opening date, the group is shooting to have it open on New Years Eve 2014. They also say that we can expect to see the wheel’s giant A-Frame start to go up around Halloween.
The article also mentions $1 million to be spent on a giant water show set up at the entrance of I-Drive Live. It wont be at the level of the famous Belagio water show in Vegas, but will shoot water up to 80 feet in the air set to music and colored lights. There are also a list of future tenants who have already signed leases.
I-Shops will feature a BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse, Red Robin, Chuy’s Tex-Mex, Longhorn Steakhouse, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Starbucks, O’Neill Surf Shop, a UPS Store and a Wawa/
I-Drive Live will feature Carrabba’s, Outback, Buffalo Wild Wings, Yard House, Seafood Republic, Cowgirls (a country bar) and more. According to the developers, more deals are currently in negotiations and once those are complete, they will only have two spaces left. Looks like I-Shops and I-Drive Live will be the place to be very soon.
(8/5/13) OrlandoParksNews takes a look at the progress taking place on the I-Drive Live project site, where what appears to be a huge 5-6 level parking structure has quickly risen up alongside the early ground work for other structures.
(3/14/13) It may have taken a few years, but there are finally signs of early progress and construction over at the I-Drive Live area. New pictures have been posted to OrlandoParksNews.
(1/31/13) More renderings of the night club with the pool designed for I-Drive Live (they should call it I-Dive) can be found at the WFTV website.
(1/24/13) OrlandoParksNews takes a look at some new information about the I-Drive Live project and permits, showing off all kinds of new artwork and plan images submitted for approval. Looks like the Madame Tussauds and SeaLife attractions will use the same building as the Orlando Eye terminal building.
(1/14/13) The local news reports that the I-Drive Live complex replacing the Mercado will also include a Las Vegas style nightclub with a pool, according to the latest plans. While the project is behind schedule, they expect to begin vertical construction in February. Unicorp says that they expect half of the project to be ready to open by early 2014 and the remainder to be ready by the end of 2014. I think it’s safe to say that the Orlando Eye giant wheel will be part of the later half.
(11/16/12) New concept art showing off the I-Drive Live layout and some attractions can be found over at Attractions Magazine.
(10/24/12) Unicorp has signed deals to bring a plethora of new restaurants to their I-Drive Live and I-Shops developments. The list includes: Red Robin, Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings and a new concept called Seafood Republic. (I’ve got to question the Buffalo Wild Wings idea myself, as there already is an existing BWW just north of Sand Lake, unless they are planning on moving into more spacious digs at the new site.) King’s Bowl, a combo bowling/dining concept will also be coming to the space vacated by the former Gooding’s supermarket at I-Drive Live.
(10/23/12) In an interesting development, Unicorp sold off six of their various retail centers (most in Central Florida) to Excel Trust Inc. in exchange for a cool $263 million. According to a statement from Unicorp, the sale of the properties will allow them to focus more on their new development projects, including the $100 million I-Shops and $200 million I-Drive Live projects in Orlando.
(9/13/12) Good news for I-Drive Live this week as the developers got the final go-ahead to begin work after they were willing to drop the plan of having a huge logo in the center of the Orlando Eye giant wheel. With construction cleared to start as soon as possible, expect to see the complex open about 24 months later.
(8/10/12) The local news reports that the I-Drive Live project has hit a roadblock after county commissioners delayed a vote on the final project plans. The issue it seems has something to do with “signs and lighting” on the attraction buildings as well as the Orlando Eye giant wheel.
(6/21/12) According to one source, we should see construction kick off on both I-Drive Live and the I-Shops projects sometime in the next few months. According to another, construction is said to begin in full force before the end of July. Our sources tell us the latest construction timetables have the opening for the first sections of I-Drive Live between Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, though the planned attractions will not be ready until at least Spring 2014.
(6/20/12) Anyone know what’s going on with the I-Drive Live project? I’m told that construction has never started and it really should have kicked off by now, so either it has been delayed, or something has gone wrong. One possible rumor floating about claims that contract talks between Merlin Entertainment and the property developer who was also working on the I-Shops development nearby, may have broken down. This could cause problem as Merlin’s attractions (the Orlando Eye Giant Wheel, Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Aquarium) were really to serve as the major anchors for the I-Drive Live project. Anyone know a bit more about what may be going on, or is the developer focusing more on opening the I-Shops section before I-Drive Live?
(4/10/12) The Orlando Sentinel has posted details on what is planned to be part of a redevelopment of a section of property at the corner of International Drive and Sand Lake Road. The “I-Shops” project will renovate the existing Wyndham hotel, upgrading sections and demolishing others, to make room for dining and retail additions to the 42-acre property. The first signed tenants so far will be a Chuy’s Tex Mex restaurant, a Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.
This is also the same group behind the planned I-Drive Live complex which will feature a Giant Wheel, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Sea Life Aquarium on nearby property to the I-Shops complex. They also claimed to have signed a lease with Kings Bowling to anchor a new development at the “Gooding’s Plaza” section, which lies in between the two bigger developments. So from the sound of it, by 2013 or so, that entire section of International Drive may be completely redeveloped.
(8/23/11) BlooLoop reports that the Orlando Eye project has come to terms with Universal and will change the entire overall project name from the objectionable “I-Walk Orlando” to “I-Drive Live”. The article also confirms that Merlin will run the Orlando Eye giant wheel as well as a Madame Tussauds and SeaLife Aquarium attraction. Other projects, restaurants, stores and even other attractions may also come to I-Drive Orlando, but not from Merlin. (Personally, I think Merlin may want to rethink the SeaLife Aquarium project in favor of perfecting some kind teleporter to get guests all the way out to the Legoland Florida site.
(8/11/11) The local news has a brief update on the giant Orlando Eye giant wheel project that is slated to replace the Mercado on I-Drive. The plans shown also show off a Madame Tussauds was museum as well as a SeaLife Aquarium as rumored. The scope of the wheel itself has gotten bigger however, as the wheel is said to now be a bigger version of the London Eye, standing 450 feet tall, which they claim will make it the tallest wheel in the world. This isn’t quite right however, as there are currently two other giant wheels out there that are already bigger: Star of Nanchang in China (525 ft) and the Singapore Flyer (541 ft).
(7/25/11) Many have been wondering just what the mystery third Merlin attraction planned for Orlando’s I-Walk attraction area. Previously I had heard that a Dungeon attraction may have been in the works, as I think a good classic haunted attraction like this would be great in Orlando, as there currently is really no competition for it. However the latest rumor suggests that instead of a Dungeon, Merlin may opt to make the more perplexing choice of adding a SeaLife Aquarium… within very close proximity to SeaWorld Orlando.
Not the brightest idea in the barrel… especially when one of Merlin’s primary shareholders also owns the entire SeaWorld chain as well. Now adding a SeaLife on to Legoland Florida may be a better idea, given the more isolated environement, but on I-Drive, I think I’d rather see a Dungeon myself. (Though honestly, I know they would have their work cut out for them to build a Dungeon in Orlando, as I believe all of the Dungeon attractions in Europe really do design themselves around fantastic local history and legends from the past, which would be hard to do in Orlando.
(3/4/11) Merlin Entertainment confirmed that they are in talks to build a slightly smaller copy of the London Eye giant wheel in Orlando. They are eyeballing the former Mercado location on I-Drive for the Orlando Eye, a 425 foot wheel, just shy of the London Eye’s 440 ft height. According to Theme Park Insider, Merlin is being courted by the site’s redeveloper to not only bring in the giant wheel, but also add a Madame Tussaud’s and another possible indoor attraction into the new retail development plans they have for the property.
2015 - All Aboard Florida: High Speed Orlando/Miami Rail Service - Planning - (6/20/12) All Aboard Florida has begun talks with Orlando International Airport about becoming the first rail system to link up to the busy airport through a new inter modal station facility that could eventually accomidate up to four rail line connections to the airport. Florida’s SunRail line also has long term plans to eventually connect to OIA in the future as well. The airport’s rail station would also serve as a terminal midpoint for an automated rail to connect the existing Orlando terminal complex with the proposed South Terminal building, whenever they deed it necessary to go ahead with that project.
(3/23/12) In an interesting Florida travel industry development has come to light today with the announcement of a plan to build a privately owned and operated passenger rail service line that would run from Miami to Orlando called All Aboard Florida. The route take advantage of 200 miles of existing tracks that run from Miami to Cocoa Beach, and then built 40 miles of new tracks to run inland from there to Orlando. Long term planning also sees the line expanding to the North to connect to Jacksonville and to the West to connect to Tampa. The $1 billion dollar plan will see thousands of jobs created and hopes to begin service as early as 2014, with the trip expected to take about 3 hours in each direction.
While this will help people move around the area for both business and vacation travel, I’m curious where the end station in Orlando would be located. Will they construct their own depot off by itself or try to link up to someplace more convenient for area travelers, such as the Orlando International Airport? It’s something worth keeping an eye on for sure, especially as increasing gas prices show no sign of stopping.
2016 - Poler Coaster - Semi-Confirmed - (11/20/13 - 9:50am) UPDATED: I have to apologize for an error in this report. While the Poler Coaster is confirmed to be coming to “Florida” it has not yet been confirmed as coming to Orlando. I got my wires crossed with another story and a quiet rumor saying that it was most likely coming to a “Central Florida” location, but as of right now the only thing confirmed is it will be somewhere in Florida.
(11/20/13) IAAPA 2013 is now in full swing and our friends at CoasterCrew on the show floor and shooting video interviews with the major players of the industry as well as being on the hunt for new and interesting creations. A major surprise announcement has been semi-made during an interview with our good friends at S&S and US Thrill Rides who announce that the world’s tallest Poler Coaster will be built in
Orlando, Florida in the near future as well as another one going into the Lakepoint Sports Complex north of Atlanta, GA. Both of these projects will break ground in 2014.
As for the Florida monster tower project... all they will say is that the deal has been signed and expected the location to be announced with more details in the next two weeks. It will be 520 ft tall and once at the top the El Loco style car will slowly go around the tower showing off the fantastic view before the track inverts the riders upside-down as it enters the first drop into the chaos that will follow. So not only will this be the world’s tallest coaster, but it will also feature the highest inversion as well. The construction timeframe is estimated to be about 24 months, so look for it to open in 2016.
New 2013 Attractions Now Open in the Orlando Area -
Chocolate Kingdom - A new mini attraction in Kissimmee, open from Noon to 8pm, this special chocolate factory will offer tours throughout the day ($15 adults, $12 children). (LINK)
Hard Knocks: Pointe Orlando - An indoor urban themed laser combat arena offering over 70 different combat mission modes and weapons based on real world hardware. (LINK)
Kennedy Space Center / Space Shuttle Display / Angry Birds Space Encounter - View the Space Shuttle Atlantis in an interactive display area with more than 60 interactive exhibits about the entire shuttle program, mixed in with the existing displays of the Apollo/Saturn V rocket, Shuttle Launch Experience ride, and tours of the complex.
The 4,485-square-foot Angry Birds Space Encounter, which is included in regular Visitor Complex admission, brings to life the space adventures of the Angry Birds as they follow their kidnapped eggs into an inter-galactic wormhole, come face-to-face with Space Pigs and gear up with heroic superpowers. Visitors encounter six interactive stations designed to engage and immerse guests in a new dimension of Angry Birds Space (LINK)
Kings Bowl Orlando - On International Drive near Charley’s Steakhouse and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, featuring 22 lanes and a full service restaurant and bar, ice cream shop, pool tables, and more. 21+ Only after 6pm. (LINK)
???? - AcquaSol - Planning - (3/11/13) The local news reports that new plans are being made for the I-Drive area to build a new and unique attraction featuring snow skiing and snow tubing to Orlando’s I-Drive. According to plans uncovered by the local Fox news, the attraction will also include rock climbing, nature trails, a stationary surf wave, a white-water rafting course, kayaking, canoeing, zip lines and more on a 60 acre piece of property. They are calling it AcquaSol and the plans also include a pair of 150-room hotels on the site.
Now where will this be located? They are pitching this to be placed on the same piece of property once eyeballed as the location for the proposed “Orlando Thrill Park” in the wooded area that sits between the homes of Tangleo Park and the Festival Bay mall. You can see the plans filed yourself here.