New Orlando: Things To Do in 2015

2014 has been a brilliant year for buzz-worthy openings at Orlando’s best theme parks. In addition to the celebrated summer unveiling of Universal Studios‘ Diagon Alley at Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Disney completed its Fantasyland makeover with its newest ride, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, at Magic Kingdom and LEGOLAND Florida opened DUPLO Valley. But when it comes to new Orlando attractions, there’s plenty to look forward to in 2015 and beyond.

New Orlando | I-Drive 360

This $200-million-dollar entertainment complex will have a 400-foot observation wheel called The Orlando Eye © I-Drive 360 

The next few years will see some momentous openings, starting in spring 2015 with the opening of I-Drive 360, a $200-million-dollar entertainment complex with a 400-foot observation wheel called The Orlando Eye. Besides shops, restaurants and bars, the space will also be home to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and a Museum of Osteology. Other elements include lavish water features with a $1.5 million choreographed water show, seasonal and holiday events and live entertainment. Restaurants include Yard House (currently open), Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, Ben & Jerry’s and Café de Paris.

New Orlando | Disney Springs Marketplace

The largest expansion in Downtown Disney history, Disney Springs will provide even more opportunities for guests to relax and enjoy themselves © Disney 

The mega makeover and multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney is also well underway and plans to unveil the newly named space, now known as Disney Springs, are set for completion in 2016. In addition to new boutiques and flagship anchor stores, the waterfront entertainment district will house more than 150 shopping, dining and nightlife establishments across four outdoor neighbourhoods: Town Center, The Landing, Marketplace and West Side. Downtown Disney favourites, such as Cirque du Solieil’s La Nouba, will remain in place.

New Orlando | Avatar 3D Movie Ride

The mythical world of Pandora will be brought to life thanks to Disney’s creative Imagineers ©  Concept art, Walt Disney Imagineering

Moving further into the future, new Orlando attractions will open at Disney World with the Avatar 3D Movie Ride (including a 3D ride based on the movie) set for completion in 2017. Based in Animal Kingdom, the Avatar-themed landscape will have multiple attractions, including a live show entitled Rivers of Light.

Details about the new Star Wars land – coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios – are sparse, but preliminary reports suggest that Disney is slated to exponentially expand the presence of the iconic film series in the park in 2017/18.

New Orlando | Sapphire Falls Rendering

Caribbean-themed Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will feature 1,000 rooms built around a lagoon and towering waterfall ©  Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando

Rumours are also flying about plans to construct a King Kong dark ride at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but no concrete open date or details have been announced.

Universal did, however, announce plans for a new Caribbean-themed Loews hotel, named Sapphire Falls Resort. The 1,000-room hotel will be built around a lagoon and cascading waterfall and will have water taxi and shuttle access to parks, dining and entertainment throughout Universal Orlando Resort. Sapphire Falls Resort will open in summer 2016.

Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights to Orlando from London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. Book your flight today.

Will you be visiting these new Orlando attractions? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Kristen Manieri

About Kristen Manieri

Kristen Manieri is travel and lifestyle writer living in Orlando, FL with her husband and two daughters. A regular contributor to Orlando Magazine and Edible Orlando, she is continuously scouring the city searching for the next great person, places, or adventure to write about. Living in the Sunshine State has given Kristen an endless array of experiences as she has explored Florida from Amelia Island all the way down to Key West. But from top to tip, Orlando is still one of her favorite Florida places thanks to its ‘come as you are’ vibe, flourishing art scene, local food-focused restaurants, and myriad of gorgeous green spaces.
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