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What's New May 2017

ORLANDO, FL (May 2017) – Make plans now for a late spring summer getaway to Central Florida as we head into May! The weather forecast is for sunny days and warm temperatures, so plan your break now!
 
Enjoy endless fun including five of the world's most famous theme parks (SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure), restaurants, dinner shows, shopping experiences, mega entertainment complexes, smaller family style attractions and spas. The excitement never stops at the world-famous Orlando resort area and you will want to check out everything that is new!
 
Happenings  
Sea World Orlando hosts its Seven Seas Food Festival through May 13. Check here for details. 
 
iFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving with a one-story, 14,000-square-foot building featuring two wind tunnel tubes. Opens May 3, 2017. www.iflyworld.com
  
Europa Games and Get Fit Expo 2017 takes place at the OCCC May 20-21. Details.
 
MegaCon Orlando is at the OCCC May 25-28. Details.
 
Universal's Volcano Bay Water Park, set to open May 25, will feature 18 attractions divided into four unique areas: Krakatau, Wave Village, River Vaillage and Rainforest Village. See details
 
If you haven’t been on the drive lately…don’t miss the recent openings 
The "world's first-ever flying theater," Universal Orlando's "Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon" is open.  Speed down The Tonight Show's hallways and through the busy streets of midtown Manhattan, rumble down into the city's subways, soar over skyscrapers, even dive into the East River as you hurtle neck and neck towards the finish line. Find out who gets that last laugh. Check here for more details. 
   
I-Drive 360's Orlando Eye has partnered with Coca-Cola. The newly named Coca-Cola Orlando Eye is part of the $200 million entertainment destination located in the heart of International Drive. The 400-foot, iconic observation wheel is the centerpiece of this themed complex featuring a dynamic blend of attractions, restaurants, nonstop entertainment and shops. USA Today Travel named it the second largest observation wheel at 400 feet tall. Read about it here.
  
Joining the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye as part of I-Drive 360’s unique line-up of attractions are world-famous Madame Tussaud’s, SEA LIFE Aquarium, Skeletons and Arcade City. Twice a day, visitors enjoy a $1.5 million water show set to music and color-changing lights. The complex offers free parking in its 1,600-space garage. www.i-idrive360.com
  
Mango's Tropical Café & Nightclub Complex opened its $40 million, 55,000-square-foot restaurant and nightclub providing nonstop live entertainment, dancing and dining. The Latin-themed restaurant and club is an expansion of the Mango's brand in South Beach and is the newest nighttime hotspot on I-Drive. www.mangos.com/orlando
  
SeaWorld Orlando opened its Mako roller. Orlando's tallest, longest and fastest roller coaster, the 200-foot-tall hyper coaster reaches 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track and leave riders feeling both breathless and weightless. www.seaworldparks.com
  
Loews Sapphire Falls Resort has opened with 1,000-rooms and is the fifth hotel at Universal Orlando. The resort has a Caribbean theme and includes 83 suites. Visit www.universalorlando.com
 
Skull Island Reign of Kong, at Univeral's Islands of Adventure, provides a journey deep into a mysterious island, swarmed by enormous prehistoric predators. Check it out here. And also open: The Incredible Hulk Roller Coaster. Check details.
 
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen has opened at CityWalk. Read all of the yummy details here.
 
The World's Largest Entertainment McDonald's at the corner of I-Drive and Sand Lake Road has re-opened and is the first in the country to have a newly-designed 22-foot-tall kids' jungle gym with slides and tunnels. The new two-story restaurant is 48 feet tall and includes 19,000-square-feet of space. With 348 seats on the first and second floors, there is a 2,000-square-foot arcade center with 50 games including an arcade version of Angry Birds. Eight kitchens prepare more than 200 menu items. http://mcfun.com/ 
 
Seabra Foods Market at Orlando Crossings Mall opened with 17,000 square feet of shopping space that includes a variety of ethnic products from Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Spain, and more. http://www.seabrafoods.com/
 
Home2 Suites by Hilton Orlando, International Drive South opened its four-story, 146-room hotel next to Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets. http://home2suites3.hilton.com/en/index.html 
 
At Pointe Orlando, Main Event Entertainment, a state-of-the-art bowling experience, opened at Pointe Orlando with 48,000-square-feet of space. It features bowling, multi-level laser tag, high ropes adventure courses, billiards and interactive and virtual video games, with dining experiences ranging from fast-casual to chef-inspired casual.  mainevent.com 
  
Hot off the press…
Universal Orlando is already making plans for Christmas and plans will include Harry Potter and his pals. Both Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley will deck their themed halls and celebrate Christmas with new experiences. The festivities will kick off on November 18, 2017 and continue through January 6, 2018. The special features will be included with general admission to the parks. More information to come. Details.
  
Preferred Hotels & Resorts, announces a new partnership with Rosen Hotels & Resorts as the group's three largest hotels, Rosen Shingle CreekRosen Centre, and Rosen Plaza, become fully branded members within the Preferred Hotels & Resorts portfolio. 
     
Orlando kudos
Orlando has been recognized as one of the "Most Dynamic Cities in America" by the Worth Group, an integrated media company recognized as a resource for high net-worth individuals and world-class brands. Featured in the current issue of Worth magazine, Orlando is one of 15 "Worth Destinations 2016" recognized for exceptional quality of life, tourism offerings, cultural offerings, business climate, entrepreneurial community and civic leadership.
 
I-Ride Trolley... the Fun Way to Get Around I-Drive!
As one of the most popular attractions in Orlando’s tourist corridor, the I-Ride Trolley Service has provided an affordable, fun and convenient way to transport visitors to the attractions, shopping, restaurants and accommodations in the International Drive Resort Area.
 
Fare: Single cash fare, $2.00 per ride; kids cash fare ages 3-9, $1.00 per ride; senior cash fare age 65 and over, $0.25 per ride. Unlimited ride passes are available: one-day pass, $5.00 per person; three-day pass, $7.00 per person; five-day pass, $9.00 per person; seven-day pass, $12.00 per person; 14-day pass, $18.00 per person.
 
Since it began in 1997, it has been considered the easiest way to travel, allowing visitors to park their cars, save some money and enjoy the ride. And it got easier with a fleet of trolleys equipped with a state-of-the-art automated vehicle location system (AVLS) known as NextBus. With Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, NextBus technology provides predicted vehicle arrival information and live maps to visitors.
 
I- Ride Trolley
 information is available via the Internet, smartphones and text messaging. Each of the 105 Trolley stops provides a QR code that visitors may scan for access to a new mobile site - iDrive2Go.mobi - dedicated to the International Drive Resort Area. In addition, the trolley equipment includes security cameras on each vehicle, automatic passenger counters, automated stop announcement system, LED destination signage and LED exterior accent lighting visible day and night.
 
Go Mobile on I-Drive!
With iDrive2Go.mobi, guests find loads of options for dining, shopping or attractions on I-Drive. The I-Ride Trolley section provides “NextTrolley” information as well as maps and listings of what is near each trolley stop. Access to the mobile site is obtained by QR scanning, SMS texting or by simply going to iDrive2Go.mobi on a smart phone.
 
Charm and comfort. Combining the charm of the past with today’s modern comforts, this exclusive cost-saving transportation system for the International Drive Resort Area has logged more than 27.7 million trips since it began service in 1997. The trolleys operate from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. daily. Details along with downloadable maps may be found at http://www.iridetrolley.com 
 
Coming this year (2017)
SeaWorld Orlando plans to open Aquatica Pass Member Pavilion in the spring. And Kraken® Virtual Reality Roller Coaster, Dolphin Nursery and Flamecraft Bar in the summer. seaworldparks.com
 
Sheraton Vistana Villages plans a multiphase expansion to feature a 63-unit timeshare building (first of 11). Estimate completion June 2017. Property details
 
I-Drive's overhead pedestrian bridge is scheduled for completion June 2017. The 410-foot enclosed bridge 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, three stairways and two elevators and will follow the path of the existing crosswalk but will be above International Drive. Check the latest here.
 
Staybridge Suites Orlando at SeaWorld plans to open in July 2017 with 95 rooms on six floors. ihg.com
  
Andretti Indoor Kart Racing & Games plans a summer 2017 opening with 100,800 square feet including multi-level go-karting, laser tag, rock climbing, zip-line, twelve bowling lanes and more. andrettikarting.com/andretti-orlando/
  
Topgolf Orlando expects a fall 2017 opening for a three-level, 65,000-square-foot entertainment center. Also: private event space and 102 climate-controlled hitting bays. topgolf.com/us/orlando
 
Starflyer-Vue at 360 will open the world's tallest spinning swing ride at 440 feet. The tower ride will reach speeds of 40 mph as riders reach the top and begin spinning. The ride will seat 24 passengers. Expected opening November 2017.
 
Residence Inn Marriott Universal Studios, plans a five-story, 145,000-square-foot, extended-stay hotel with 196 rooms. Expected opening is late 2017. marriott.com
 
Cambria Hotel & Suites plans a seven-story, 140-room hotel. Expected opening in 2017. choicehotels.com 
 
2018 and beyond 
At Universal Orlando, Cabana Bay Beach Resort expands by adding a hotel tower with 399 retro designed rooms to open February 2018. See details.
 
Hyatt House expects to open on I-Drive in June 2018. The $28 million property plans to have 175 rooms. house.hyatt.com
 
SeaWorld Orlando is ready to rush the rapids with Infinity Falls, the world's tallest river rapid drop coming summer 2018. seaworldparks.com
  
The International Drive widening project plans to complete its expansion from four to six lanes from South Westwood Blvd. to North Westwood Blvd. in October 2018. For more details, check here.
 
Sand Lake Road Improvement Project expects completion in late 2019 of work that includes widening to six lanes, bike paths and new sidewalks. Extends from I-Drive to Universal Blvd. cflroads.com
 
Awaiting details...
The Reserve at Shingle Creek Resort to add a 325-room, 16-story condo tower, walk-in pool and lazy river, additional golf holes, 133,000-square-foot operations building with parking, 36,000-square-foot laundry facility, 250,000-square-feet additional convention space and a multi-level parking garage. rosenshinglecreek.com
 
Fun Spot America is planning an expansion to include new themes, incorporate new food & beverage partners, add coasters, water rides and much more. Visit fun-spot.com
  May 2017
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