Orlando is home to a thriving nightlife scene, with exciting options for those looking to extend their fun beyond the theme parks. With world-class restaurants, theme parks and high-energy dance clubs providing entertainment all day, Orlando’s playful energy kicks it up a notch more once the sun goes down.
Orlando has so much to offer but we will start with the Universal Orlando Resort, which opens a groundbreaking new attraction this year at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. “Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will honor one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong. Guests will board large vehicles and explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives and fending off unspeakable terrors.
Walt Disney World Resortwill also have a new “Frozen” ride at Epcot in summer 2016, called “Frozen Ever After.” The Maelstrom ride, located in the Norway pavilion of the World Showcase, will be renovated into this new attraction based on Disney’s popular animated film. The ride will take guests to Arendelle during the kingdom’s Winter Festival, featuring favorite characters and music from the film, all with cutting-edge technology.
SeaWorld Orlandois bringing the thrills this year with Mako, a brand new 200-foot-tall coaster set to open June 10. Named for one of the ocean’s fastest known sharks,it will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 73 mph as it races along 4,760 feet of steel track. SeaWorld’s new hypercoaster will be the centerpiece of the newly themed two-acre plaza.
Busch Gardens Tampa will open a new family thrill ride called Cobra’s Curse. This spin coaster will be the only one of its kind in the world, featuring a vertical lift and taking riders on a whirlwind adventure of exciting explorations. Key features of the ride will include an 80-foot snake icon, a trek over the park’s Serengeti Plain and the mysteries of an Egyptian archaeological excavation.
Walt Disney World Resort will complete the multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. Featuring an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, this new expansion will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, to more than 150 establishments.
The Walt Disney World Resortalso welcomes two new Star Wars shows at Hollywood Studios. Debuted in April, a new stage show, “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away,” plays out iconic moments from the film saga with appearances from Star Wars characters like KyloRen, Chewbacca and Darth Vader. A nightly celebration, “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” is coming this summer. It will include fireworks, pyrotechnics, special effects and video projections that will turn the nearby Chinese Theater and other buildings into the twin suns of Tatooine, Starkiller Base and other Star Wars destinations; combined, it will be the most elaborate fireworks display to take place in the history of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort premiered “The LEGO® Movie™ 4D A New Adventure”. The new 4D animated film features the popular characters from The LEGO® Movie™ and uses elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects. The larger-than-life experience brings the film’s main characters, Emmet and Wyldstyle, back together with their friends for another awesome adventure.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex announced the addition of a new attraction coming in late 2016, called Heroes and Legends. Heroes and Legends will feature the U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame and showcase the heroism of America’s early space pioneers by inviting guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America’s earliest missions through high-tech elements and special effects, including simulated holograms and augmented reality.
Crayola Experience will open Rockin’ Paper this summer, an all-new attraction that will bring personalized paper creations to life. Guests will start by decorating paper creatures, then watch as they come alive and rock out in a show all of their own, complete with lights and music. Each new set of paper stars will dance to a different song, for a new experience every time.
The Dining Experience
For the third consecutive year, Orlando captured the most nominations of any Florida city for the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists. Five Orlando chefs were named semifinalists in the “Best Chefs in the South” category. In addition, in 2015 Orlando received several prominent culinary accolades, including Wine Enthusiast naming Orlando one of the “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2015” and TheNew York Times highlighting Orlando’s “surprising food scene” as a reason to choose Orlando as one of the “52 Places to Go in 2015”.
From internationally renowned Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s first-ever Pan Asian restaurant to a home-grown venue specializing in takeout charcuterie, Orlando is a destination where the culinary possibilities are both fresh and seemingly endless.
Located within close proximity to Orlando’s world-famous theme parks and a short drive from the Orlando Orange County Convention Center, “Restaurant Row,” is a one mile (1.6 kilometers) stretch of Sand Lake Road featuring 20 exquisite restaurants. Recently expanded with eight new venues, Universal CityWalk is also a great place for guests to grab a quick snack, relax over dinner, mingle over cocktails, see an electrifying concert or dance the night away.
While the theme parks such as Disney and Universal keep Central Florida on the map with award-winning dining, Orlando is beginning to spread its wings with independent restaurateurs. Avid diners arrive in Central Florida from around the globe, and expectations are high. Whether locally owned or part of expanding franchises, many of the destination’s newest restaurants mirror the national trends: American cuisine, farm-friendly menus and simple food with regional accents.
The Shopping Experience
Shopping in Orlando is fun. From Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton to a pair of Mickey Mouse ears or a Harry Potter wand, the diversity and quality of shopping in Orlando is like no other destination. And while there are plenty of neighborhood shops worth avisit, there’s a day’s worth of treasures right in the heart of the tourism district. Most shops are within a 20-minute drive, from luxury malls to top-notch outlets and theme park shopping.
For a change of pace, three key shopping districts showcase Orlando’s eclectic side: Winter Park, Ivanhoe Village and Thornton Parkin downtown Orlando. Encompassing a strip of Southwest Orlando, the tourism district is home to the area’s most upscale mall, Central Florida’s largest mall and three outlet shopping centers. Popular malls are Mall of Millenia, The Florida Mall, Pointe Orlando, Artegon Marketplace Orlando and numerous premium outlets.
Orlando’s blossoming locavore scene includes the new East End Market, weekly farmers’ markets and a farm worth a visit. Plus, an expanding neighborhood of Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and Chinese restaurants and storefronts known as Mills 50 bring authentic Asian cuisine and shopping to adventurous visitors.
Orlando’s hospitality industry was founded on creating unforgettable experiences for visitors from around the world. Luxury travelers find that Orlando continues to evolve top accommodations, services and personalized opportunities. The area’s first AAA Five Diamond Awarded property, The Four Seasons Orlando Resortat Walt Disney World Resort, along with fellow luxury hoteliers Waldorf Astoria and The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes offer guests upscale amenities to complement the unique and private experiences available to discerning guests of Orlando’s world-famous theme parks and beyond.