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News & Rumors

ORLANDO ATTRACTIONS
A News page for the Orlando’s areas other Minor Attractions and Resort properties

 

 

 

----    THE LATEST BUZZ    ----
    (1/1/22) See the New Orlando Free Fall In Action (MORE...)
    (12/30/21) Icon Park Opens New Giant Rides
    (12/27/21) Slingshot and Free Fall at Icon Park May Open Tomorrow (MORE...)
    (12/19/21) Orlando FreeFall Now Testing (MORE...)
    (12/13/21) Kennedy Space Center To Open New Attraction in March 2022

 

You can find our review of the I-Drive 360 attractions (Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and SeaLife Aquarium here.

 

icon_STOPCentral Florida News - (12/1/21) Long time visitors to Orlando may recall the former Jungleland Zoo attraction in Kissimmee off 192. The property had a few different owners over the years and some different names, but from the 1970 through to when it closed around 2002 the attraction was usually spotted those driving by because of a large gator statue they had built in the parking lot.
    While the old attraction is long gone, a new attraction will rise once again on the site called Krush Brau Park, an attempt to bring the celebration and fun of the German Oktoberfest to Florida, year-round. Once finished the complex will feature an outdoor tented festival area to put on various events throughout the year, an indoor “biergaten restaurant” featuring authentic German food, and lastly, behind the building will be a park area featuring various shops and eateries inside container units, a petting zoo, playground and more.
    Based on the website’s schedule, it looks like a schedule of various themed outdoor events has already been scheduled on select dates from December through to Spring 2022. Visit the official website and click on the events tab to see more.
 
    (8/31/21) A landmark hotel on International Drive has been sold! According to this article, The Four Points by Sheraton, the iconic round and tall tower with the large globe on top, has been sold to an unknown new owner in a deal worth $31 million. According to the article, the owner (Ben Mallah) was glad to be rid of it because he needed to “stop the bleeding” from his business dealings.
    The hotel is a bit on the old side, and Mallah reportedly bought it in 2016 for roughly $23 million, and then dropped another $6 million into it to make improvements. While Mallah blamed the pandemic for the lack of business, claiming he was lucky if the hotel was able to break-even on any given month, I’m going to paint a different story.
    Based on what I saw during early June, the Orlando theme parks were packed and more crowded than I’ve ever seen before during that time of year. As I mentioned, the Four Points by Sheraton is an older hotel, and is surrounded on all sides by hotels that are typically far cheaper, and many of which that are also much newer. This also includes Universal two massive Endless Summer resort hotels built just on the other side of I-Drive from the Four Points by Sheraton tower, which typically offer suites at a much lower price point.
    When Universal Orlando was just about to open the first of the two Endless Summer resorts in 2019 (the Surfside Inn and Suites) Screamscape was invited to take a tour of Universal’s newest resort and we were impressed, especially once the price-point was revealed. At the time I remember saying that Universal had just put all of old and tired hotels on the north-side of International Drive “on notice”, as the days of over-charging for decades old hotels that had not been kept-up properly over the years was officially over.
    Jump to the present day, and it has not been revealed who just bought the Four Points by Sheraton, but if I were a betting man, I’d say there is a good chance Universal could be involved. Just next door to the hotel, behind the IHOP, there is also a large piece of empty property that really has been sitting there far too long to go undeveloped. The site was formerly home to Skull Kingdom, a year-round haunted castle attraction that shut down in the early 2000’s. With the way Universal has been expanding over the past decade, the opportunity to grab up these properties may be too hard to pass up as they sit directly between Universal Orlando proper (on the other side of the freeway) and Universal’s two Endless Summer resorts. With the right solution, Universal could possibly find a way to “connect” the various pieces of property in the future as they march even closer to the opening of the Epic Universe property just a bit further south.
    Just something to think about…
 
    (8/6/21) The Holy Land Experience is Orlando is officially NO MORE! According to the latest news reports, the attraction which has been closed since early 2020 has now officially been sold to AdventHealth as of August 2, 2021. A statement from AdventHealth says only that they plan to redevelop the property “to bring enhanced health care services to the community” and will share details about those plans at a later date.
    Trinity Broadcasting, the former owners the Holy Land Experience has thus far declined to make any comment on the sale.
 
    (6/6/21) Yet another Sling Shot is coming to Orlando attractions area. And no… I’m not talking about the giant one under construction next to the Orlando Eye at ICON Park. Instead a new Slingshot is now under construction near Margaritaville’s SunsetWalk area off I-192, south of Disney World. The project has now gone vertical and you can see the two towers rising in the video clip below. The hope is to have it ready to open before the end of this Summer.
    Now this is all well and good, as I love rides, but in all honesty, isn’t the Orlando market already saturated with enough Slingshots?  In addition to the mega-sized version coming to I-Drive by the Orlando Eye, there are two long running Slingshots in town, one on I-Drive at Magical Midway, another one to the south on 192 in front of Old Town Kissimmee, so soon there will be four of them in the Orlando area and another just outside of town at Daytona Beach.
    Based on this, it sounds like there is a need for someone two develop a brand new iconic upcharge midway attraction of some kind, just so we can have something else to try out. I’m surprised no one has tried to build a copy of the Mountain Monster concept from Pigeon Forge that combines three different attraction concepts into one tower design… offering a freefall tower ride, a skycoaster style swing experience and a sling-shot style experience. Plus it has a surprise extra ride for those who venture to the top for the Monster Dive… your slow elevator ride to the top for that experience turns into another 200 ft freefall ride experience just to get back down to the ground.

 

 

2021 - Closing of the Crossroads Plaza -
    (1/22/20) Many guests who have visited Walt Disney World over the years may recall stopping by the near Crossroads retail area across the street from the Hotel Plaza Blvd resorts. The center was home to a number of popular restaurants over the years, providing a place for many Disney guests to eat off Disney property without straying too far off resort property. I’ve you’ve eaten at Red Lobster, Chevy’s Fresh Mex, Taco Bell, TGIFridays, Buffalo Wild Wings, Fuddruckers, or the dearly departed Jungle Jim’s over the decades, chances are you have visited the Crossroads.
    Several years ago it was announced that the days of Crossroads were numbered as the state of Florida was preparing to steal away the entire complex via “Eminent Domain” as part of the state’s ongoing I-4 freeway improvement process. Apparently they felt that the land under the Crossroads would be better suited to build a new set of ramps and bridges connected to I-4 that could more easily direct traffic directly shoot drivers off the freeway and either away from Disney or right onto Hotel Plaza Blvd.
    Time has passed and the Crossroads have remained… but according to local news reports the settlement to acquire the property has been completed, with Florida paying $198 million in exchange for the property. From the sound of things the various tenants have until August 2021 to close up, but some may opt to just leave earlier if the current business environment is just too unfriendly to remain open.
 
    (4/14/18)  Call me sentimental... but this news makes me more than a bit sad. According to the Orlando Sentinel the popular "Crossroads" shopping complex next to Walt Disney World will likely close down in late 2019 to make way for a redesign of the I-4 freeway interchange to relieve the intense traffic snarls that happen there daily.  Of course, what they don't mention is how the site is home to the majority of the popular restaurants in the area that are not on Disney property, which will have the effect of forcing more of the hotel guests staying in the area over to Disney Springs.
    I'm a bit nostalgic about the Crossroads however... as I've had a ton of fond memories there over the years. On my very first trip to Walt Disney World in 1990 that I took with my best friend, we stayed at a hotel nearby and would often walk to the Crossroads for a quick bite at McDonalds, Taco Bell, a game of Pirate Golf and this is where we discovered the amazing Jungle Jim's (which has long since closed). In later years, while I first met my wife-to-be at Pleasure Island, we ended the evening we first met with a late night 2am snack at the Perkins in the Crossroads. After we got married and moved to Orlando, our favorite restaurants to eat at was Chevy's... in the Crossroads. We met with friends, took our kids, and made a lot of memories there at those and many other locations while we lived in Orlando, which I think one of our last memories there before we moved was spending a long evening at Buffalo Wild Wings watching WrestleMania 22 on the screens.
    Now the state has made the owners an offer to buy the entire complex to turn it into a new series of I-4 off-ramps and bridges to better direct more traffic into Disney property and the surrounding area, but still... it just makes me shake my head that the place for so many memories in my life could just vanish into neverland.

 

icon_STOP2022 - Icon Park Adding Two New Attractions - (1/1/22) Check out the video below to see a great shot of the new Orlando Free Fall in action. Climbing high into the sky, it almost seems like you’ll never reach the top. But when you do… you’ll drop 430 feet to the ground at 75 mph.

 
    (12/29/21) As rumored, the new Orlando Free Fall and Slingshot at Icon Park both opened to guests on Wednesday.
 
    (12/27/21) Rumor has it that the new Slingshot and Orlando Free Fall tower rides at Icon Park MAY open to the public sometime on December 28th! Like… TOMORROW, so if you want to be one of the first to ride, keep your eyes open tomorrow. In the meantime we’ve got a video to share from Orlando Experience showing off the world’s biggest Slingshot testing, shooting riders 450 feet in the air at 100mph.

 
    (12/19/21) I can only imagine that the new Orlando FreeFall is preparing to open up very soon now, because they have begun testing the new gyro drop tower. You can see an on-ride and off-ride video of the new ride below, located on I-Drive near the Orlando Icon wheel.


 
    (11/7/21) Orlando Experience has posted a new video showing off the progress of the new freefall drop tower and massive Orlando Slingshot under construction at Icon Park. Along with the massive observation wheel and Starflyer, this block of Orlando property is simply going to dominate the skyline for years to come. The massive freefall tower stands 430 feet tall with seats that will tilt forward 30º before you drop. Meanwhile the new king of Slingshots will stand 300 feet tall.

 
    (3/16/21) Midway Mayhem has posted a construction update from ICON Park to check on the progress of the installation of the new Drop Tower and SlingShot attractions in the video below.

 
    (1/31/21) ICON Park on I-Drive held a groundbreaking ceremony the other day to commemorate the start of construction for their next two giant thrill rides, a Sling Shot and a Drop Tower experience. They hope to have both ready to open before the end of 2021.

 
    (12/19/20) New attractions are coming soon to Orlando’s ICON Park. In January 2021 the Museum of Illusions will open, featuring a number of visual illusions that will make it a perfect Instagramable attraction experience, allowing guests to create some fantastic memories they can share on their social media platform of choice with family, friends and followers.
    Meanwhile new concept art showing off the new ICON Park Slingshot and Drop Tower attractions that are under construction and set to open sometime in Summer 2021 has been posted online as well, to be located on the opposite side of ICON park as the Star Flyer.

 
    (10/31/20) Parts and pieces have begun to arrive at Icon Park Orlando for what is to become the world’s tallest Slingshot and Drop Tower rides. The gyro-drop tower ride is said to be 430 feet tall while the nearby new Slingshot ride will launch riders up to 350 feet in the air at 100mph. Midway Mayhem has posted pieces of the large purple steel support sections on site at their IG.

 
    (1/29/20) According to the OBJ, Unicorp is still seeking city approval to add the new two thrill rides to Icon Park that were previously promoted as coming in 2020. This would be to add a 350 to 400 foot tall drop tower and a 300 foot tall sling-shot upcharge attractions able to shoot riders up to 450 feet in the air. The permitting process is expected to take another 2-6 months and construction can take up to a year, so with that in mind it will probably be late 2021 or 2022 before either of these open at the International Drive attraction.
 
    (5/13/19) According to the local news Icon Park, the new name for the former Orlando Eye wheel and surrounding attractions, released details about two major new rides they are planning to add. One will be a massive 300-foot tall Orlando Slingshot ride that will fire riders up to 450 feet into the sky. The second with be called the Orlando Gyro Drop Tower, which will slowly rotate and raise riders 350 feet into the sky for a view of the surrounding area before dropping them back to earth at 75mph. Look for both attractions to be up and running sometime in 2020, to be located on the opposite side of Icon Park from the Starflyer.

 

2022 - Brightline Service To Orlando International Airport and Beyond - Note: Virgin dropped out of the deal with Brightline and has had their name removed from the project, returning it back to the original name of Brightline.
 
    (1/20/20) According to the latest update an official from Virgin Trains stated that talks with Disney to put a station on or near the Walt Disney World property have reached a “rather advanced state now”. With the rail line pathway seemingly already set to run down the 417 from the Airport on a direct run towards Disney, it would only make sense that a station get build on the mouse’s doorstep at some point in the future. Of course Virgin Trains has to finish the expansion of their line from West Palm Beach to the Orlando Airport first.
 
    (12/31/19) Discussions between Virgin Trains USA and the state of Florida have been extended for another 90 days to attempt to finalize the land-lease location of a high-speed rail route that would travel about 80 miles from the Orlando airport, down SR-417 to connect to I-4 where it would lead to a new station in the Tampa area.
    As previously reported, Virgin is also in talks with Disney about locating a station on or near Disney property as they pass through the area, but a route along the SR-417 from the airport would remove any possibility of putting a station near the Orange County Convention Center, which became a major obstacle in getting Disney on-board with plans a decade ago for a similar project.
 
    (12/18/19) While the Orlando airport is preparing for the arrival of the Virgin Trains USA line (formerly Brightline) to bring in riders from the southern Florida area starting in 2022, they are also apparently in talks about an expansion of the line from the Orlando airport that could eventually reach Tampa, that could include a stop at Walt Disney World.
    Now stop me if you think you’ve heard this story before… because if you are local to central Florida, or a longtime reader, you are probably having a bit of deja-vu from 2009. Ten years ago the state of Florida began making plans to build a bullet train that would run from the Orlando to Tampa airports with a few stops along the way. This included a wanted stop at Orlando’s Orange County Convention center on I-Drive as well as one at Walt Disney World before running off towards Tampa. Unfortunately, while Disney was willing and wanted to have a grand-sized station on property, they also set an ultimatum demanding that the train would not stop anywhere in Orlando after leaving the airport before it arrived at Walt Disney World property. Since this would turn the state funded project into a direct funnel that would only benefit Walt Disney World, the rail project proposal soon died a quick death.
    While at first one might think that this posturing was another mis-step from the Eisner era at Disney, this is not so as Michael Eisner was replaced by Bob Iger in 2005, so all this happened under Iger’s watch and it makes me wonder if it could play out the same way once again.
 
    (8/9/19) Awhile ago you may remember reading a report here about how the Brightline high-speed train service that runs from Miami through Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach was planning to expand the service all the way to Orlando International Airport. That plan is still said to be on and now Virgin has come on board as a partner as well, that will see the service rebranded as Virgin Trains USA. The construction of the extension to Orlando is expected to take 3 years and be completed sometime in 2022.
    There is more to come however, as Universal Orlando has now teamed up with Orange County to push as hard as they can to get the line extended a little bit more to create another stop that would be able to service the Orange County Convention Center as well as Universal’s new Epic Universe theme park resort property.
    Meanwhile Virgin Trains says they are already plans to expand the system even more, with a stop at Walt Disney World and then a run down to Tampa… but obviously this expansion would cut out the rest of the Orlando market completely, which is why they are lobbying for the important extra stop at the Convention Center, which could service the entire Orlando tourist corridor along I-Drive and not just Walt Disney World.
    This all sounds extremely familiar to me, and if you are local to Orlando, it might sound familiar to you as well, as a similar situation played out years ago over another proposed high-speed rail project that would have run from the Orlando airport to the Tampa airport, with a single stop at Walt Disney World. Disney at the time set the demand that they would only allow it to stop on their property as long as it did not stop anywhere else along the way and the project was soon abandoned as being entirely self serving to Walt Disney World, who wasn't paying for it, and not at all to anyone else.

 

icon_STOP2022 - Kennedy Space Center - New Attraction - (12/13/21) Kennedy Space Center is working on a new attraction to open in March 2022 called the Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex. The idea is for this new complex to bit a bit flexible and able to be changed as needed, while having a focus on ‘forward-looking’ space exploration issues.
    Placed  inside is a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster rocket used in two mission (including the one that shot a Tesla Roadster into space) and it is being presented just as it looked upon final entry with all the burn scoring and all. Other items included will be an Orion crew vehicle, a moon habitat concept, a Boeing CST-1000 Starliner crew vehicle, and a two-story 4D flying theater attraction where guests can choose one of four different possible space missions.

 

 

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Track Record

 

 

 

The Latest Attractions:
DezerLand (2021)
 
Island H2O Live! Waterpark (2019)

Orlando Starflyer (2018)

Gatorland / Stompin' Gator Off-Road Adventure (2017)

Top Golf Orlando (2017)

Andretti Indoor Karting (2017)

I-Fly Orlando (New Location 2017)

Skyzone Orlando (2016)

Think Geek Store and Crayola Experience at Florida Mall (2015)

I-Drive 360 / Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds, SeaLife Aquarium (2015)

Chocolate Kingdom I-Drive (‘15)

Artegon Orlando (2014)

NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing(‘14)

Hard Knocks Pointe ORL (2013)

Legends Old Town (2013)

Kings Bowl (2013)
 

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