By David Sibila
From a brand new tropical water park, a celebrity hosted adventure to exploring an entirely new world; Orlando - Theme Park Capital of the World SM - is ramping up for another landmark year of new reasons to visit. We've gathered a list of 17 new openings coming to Orlando in 2017, featuring some of the largest expansions in theme park history, new resort hotels, dining experiences and a year packed with unforgettable sporting events.
7 THEME PARK THRILLS
Volcano Bay at Universal Orlando Resort, opening June 1, 2017, is an all-new water park inspired by postcard-perfect tropical islands promising innovative, thrilling attractions made even more enjoyable with new technology eliminating long lines or wrestling with tubes.
"Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Universal Orlando Resort invites guests to join the Tonight Show's studio audience on the ultimate race through the streets - and skies - of New York City.
Pandora - The World of AVATAR, the largest expansion in Disney's Animal Kingdom history, will feature floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and a Banshee flying attraction, as well as new after-dark entertainment.
Miss Fortune Falls at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon is a new family-style raft ride that is among the lengthiest at both Disney water parks with a ride time of two minutes.
SeaWorld Orlando's Kraken roller coaster will transform into Florida's only virtual reality roller coaster experience, taking guests on a deep sea mission alongside sea creatures.
SeaWorld Orlando's Electric Ocean, opening summer, is a new end-of-day spectacle event with bioluminescent lighting, immersing guests in a glowing sea of wonder.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort's LEGO NINJAGO World, a new immersive land opening in early 2017, features an interactive dark ride where guests can blast fire, lightning and ice with their hands. In addition, LEGOLAND Beach Retreat opens mid-2017.
4 SPECTACULAR SPECTATOR SPORTS
Orlando's 25,500-seat Multipurpose Soccer Stadium, home to the Orlando City Lions and Orlando Pride soccer teams, is scheduled to open prior to the 2017 MLS season.
Orlando hosts the NFL Pro Bowl game at the Camping World Stadium on January 29, 2017. The new Pro Bowl Week includes accessible team practices and a variety of youth football and family fun activities across Orlando.
Orlando's Amway Center welcomes the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship on March 16 & 18 for the tournament's First and Second Rounds.
Orlando becomes the new home of American tennis as the United States Tennis Association's new state-of-the-art headquarters' facility opens in January, featuring over 100 courts.
2 NEW HOTELS
Downtown Orlando's new 54-room boutique property, The Delaney Hotel, opens by late spring 2017 and offers high-tech conveniences such as remote check-in, in-room digital tablet-based concierge services and smart phone room keys.
Margaritaville Resort Orlando, opening in late 2017, will be a waterfront destination resort with 187 rooms, 1,000 Margaritaville-themed vacation homes and 300 timeshare units, along with a new dining and entertainment district and 12-acre water park.
4 DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEXES
Disney Springs adds more new dining experiences including: The Edison, themed around a 1920s-era electric company with live entertainment, classic American food and craft cocktails; The Polite Pig, sister restaurant of The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, led by local celebrity chefs James and Julie Petrakis; Planet Hollywood Observatory featuring a Guy Fieri sandwich menu; and Wine Bar George, the only Master Sommelier-led wine bar in Florida.
Circo Orlando, part of the Le Cirque Restaurant brand, is slated to open on International Drive in mid-2017 offering high-end Italian cuisine and rooftop views.
Top Golf Orlando, opening fall 2017, will offer more than 100 climate-controlled hitting bays with advanced technology to track accuracy and distance of players' shots.
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, opening spring 2017, features high-speed electric superkarts on a two-level track, over 120 arcade games, a rock wall, zip line and more.
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Written by David Sibila, Senior Manager of Content and Social Media for Visit Orlando. He's a TV producer turned content and social media strategist, hands-on dad and a casualty of four rescued pets.