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