Thanks to the debut of new theme park rides, attractions, restaurants, resorts and more in 2017, Orlando is bigger and better than ever.
The past year was one for the books in Orlando. New attractions, new resorts and new restaurants made it an unforgettable 2017 for those who were here to experience it — and if you weren't among them, these improvements provide plenty of reasons to visit Orlando soon. Here's a look at the many ways Orlando got bigger, better and bolder in 2017.
New at Orlando's Theme Parks in 2017
Pandora — The World of Avatar: Inspired by James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar motion picture and its upcoming sequels, this highly anticipated new land opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in May and marked the theme park's biggest expansion yet. Pandora features floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and flying Banshees, plus the Na'vi River Journey attraction and after-dark entertainment.
Miss Adventure Falls: This new ride at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon® opened in March. Now one of the lengthiest attractions at both Disney water parks, the family-style raft ride takes you to the top of the attraction before plunging you into a white-water adventure.
Star Wars Guided Tour: This new, all-access tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios® started in January. It includes two stage shows, "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away" and "March of the First Order," as well as a nighttime fireworks spectacular, themed dining experiences, character meet-and-greets and more.
Happily Ever After: Combining the magic of Disney storytelling, beloved Disney characters and fireworks, Magic Kingdom® Park's new nighttime spectacular features moments from Aladdin, Moana, Zootopia and other favorites.
Universal's Volcano Bay: Having opened in May, Orlando's newest water park offers thrilling adventures and peaceful relaxation. Additionally, the all-new TapuTapu wearable technology enables you to wait in a virtual line for the park's attractions, with the device alerting you when it's time to head to your chosen ride.
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon: This new ride at Universal Studios Florida opened in April. The attraction invites you to join the host of NBC's The Tonight Show on the ultimate ride through the deepest subway tunnels and tallest skyscrapers in New York City. You can also stock up on themed merchandise at The Tonight Shop.
Kraken Unleashed: In June, the Kraken roller coaster transformed into Kraken Unleashed, enhancing it with virtual-reality technology. Now, the thrill ride takes you on a deep-sea mission alongside creatures inspired by extinct and legendary beasts of the past, including the featured monster.
Dolphin Nursery: The Dolphin Nursery at SeaWorld Orlando has always been a visitor favorite, but the sanctuary underwent updates in 2017, including larger windows and more levels. As a result, you can now get up close and personal with mother and baby dolphins in all-new ways.
Electric Ocean: This brand-new, summer-nighttime spectacle immerses you in a sea of wonder courtesy of bioluminescent lighting, music, dancing and pathway entertainment.
LEGO NINJAGO World: This extensive new land opened in January. It features LEGO NINJAGO The Ride, which invites you to shoot foes with fireballs, ice and lightning using the innovative attraction's hand-gesture technology.
New Orlando Attractions in 2017
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games: Ever since this expansive entertainment center opened on Universal Boulevard in September, visitors have been racing to try it out. It features indoor go-karting, zip lines, bowling, racing simulators, a sky bar, rock climbing, laser tag, video games and a full-service restaurant.
iFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving: The attraction relocated to a new facility on International Drive and opened its doors in May. It's equipped with two all-glass wind tunnels in an open, single-story floor plan that allows passersby to see tourists in action.
Topgolf Orlando: Featuring 230 high-definition TVs, 102 climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at one time, and advanced technology to track the accuracy and distance of players' shots, this attraction opened on Universal Boulevard in October.
New Orlando Dining & Nightlife in 2017
Ace Cafe Orlando: The first outpost of the iconic, London-based motor diner opened in May. The menu, inspired by American roadside diners, has made-from-scratch comfort food and some British favorites, plus locally sourced and green options, all at an affordable price point. It also features a coffee bar and a memorabilia gallery.
Luke's Kitchen: Luke's is the third restaurant for Chef Brandon McGlamery, famed for his Luma on Park and Prato in Winter Park. Making its Maitland debut in January, Luke's offers cocktails and American cuisine.
Paddlefish: Board an iconic paddleboat anchored on Lake Buena Vista to check out this new Disney Springs® restaurant. It opened its doors in February and has been wowing visitors with contemporary seafood dishes and American classics.
Planet Hollywood: The newly renovated restaurant in Disney Springs reopened in February. The expanded outdoor terrace and bar lets you look out over the heart of the surrounding entertainment district while enjoying beverages. Additionally, Guy Fieri of Food Network fame has partnered with the eatery for select menu offerings.
The Polite Pig: Sister restaurant of The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, The Polite Pig opened in Disney Springs in April. Both are the work of James and Julie Petrakis, the James Beard-nominated husband-and-wife culinary team. This eatery features a variety of wood-fired, smoked and grilled items. It also introduces an innovative beverage program that serves all drinks on tap.
Wonderland Cookie Dough Co.: Florida's only scoop shop specifically dedicated to edible cookie dough opened in August. Located a short distance from Walt Disney World in Celebration, the eatery offers a variety of flavors and toppings, in addition to gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free options.
New Orlando Hotels & Resorts in 2017
LEGOLAND Beach Retreat: Conveniently located next to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, this all-new resort opened in April. It offers 83 single-story bungalows, plus a themed pool, lighthouse, sandy play area and restaurant.
The Grove Resort Orlando: Just five minutes from Walt Disney World, The Grove Resort offers 878, two- and three-bedroom residential-style suites with full kitchens, washers and dryers, and multiple bathrooms to provide all the comforts of home. It opened in March.
New Orlando Sports Complexes in 2017
Orlando City Stadium: Home to the Orlando City Soccer Club and Orlando City Pride teams, the stadium opened in downtown Orlando earlier this year. It seats 25,500 people and is located a block away from the Amway Center.
United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Campus: In January, the USTA debuted its new headquarters in Lake Nona, which is 20 minutes from Orlando International Airport. The 63-acre complex encompasses more than 100 courts and a multi-use building with a pro shop, fitness center, locker rooms, cafeteria and players' lounge.
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