OPENING IN 2020
Walt Disney World Resort
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a new land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, opened the second ride planned for the area, called Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, where an escape from The First Order turns into all-out battle.
- The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on March 4, 2020. Guests enter the world of “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts using new technologies that bring the flat cartoon world to life.
- Tickets are on sale for the new Cirque du Soleil show “Drawn to Life,” coming to Disney Springs. The show will be a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering. Previews will open March 20, 2020, with the official premiere on April 17, 2020.
- Mickey Shorts Theater in Disney’s Hollywood Studios will show an original short film in the style of the popular Disney Channel animated series “Mickey Mouse,” and will feature photo-opportunity locations for guests.
- Roundup Rodeo BBQ Restaurant will open in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2020. The immersive restaurant will provide a unique, fun and family-friendly experience.
- Walt Disney World Resort announced a historic transformation of Epcot The theme park will undergo one of the biggest transformations of any Disney park in history, bringing new attractions and experiences. Highlights include:
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, an attraction where guests will shrink to the size of Chef Remy and race through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure. The attraction will be located in the France pavilion, opening in summer 2020.
- HarmonioUS, the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park, featuring massive floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, lasers and more.
- Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along opened January 2020 in the France pavilion. The 15-minute film features songs from the animated classic, Beauty and the Beast.
- Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360, located in the Canada pavilion, debuted January 2020 with new scenes and a new story taking guests on a journey through Canada’s landscape, culture and scenery.
- La Crêperie de Paris, a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot, offers both table and quick-service options and featuring a menu from celebrity chef Jérôme Bocuse.
- Space 220 Restaurant will be a new table-service restaurant at Epcot next to Mission: SPACE. As guests enter the restaurant, they’ll step into a special space elevator that will take them 220 miles above the Earth’s surface and offer incredible celestial views.
- Disney’s DuckTales World Showcase Adventure will allow guests to play using the Play Disney Parks mobile app in Epcot. Guest are invited to join Scrooge, McDuck, Donald, Launchpad, Webby and the nephews in search of priceless treasure around World Showcase.
- Ice Breaker, SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster, will open in spring 2020. Riders will shiver through family-friendly adventures featuring four launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch with a 93-foot tall spike with 100-degree angle, the steepest vertical drop in Florida.
- Aquatica Orlando will open a new waterslide, Riptide Race, Florida’s first-ever dueling waterslide, in spring 2020. Starting atop a 68-foot tower, the ride will allow guests to race side-by-side at top speeds, navigating tight loops and accelerations through indoor and outdoor sections of nearly 650 feet of splashing slides.
Universal Orlando Resort
The Bourne Stuntacular will debut at Universal Studios Florida in spring 2020. This cutting-edge live-action stunt show based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne film franchise will blur the lines between stage and cinema in a hybrid form of entertainment that has never been seen before.
Beyond the Theme Parks
- Steinmetz Hall at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opening Fall 2020, will achieve an N1 sound rating—the lowest level at which humans can detect sound.
- The Orlando Science Center’s “Pompeii: The Immortal City,” runs June 6 – Sept. 7, 2020 and is one of only four U.S. sites for the interactive exhibit.
- Dezerland Action Park, Orlando's largest indoor entertainment, events museum complex will open in April 2020. The Orlando Auto Museum, one of the largest privately-owned collection of automobilia in the world, will boast over 100 TV and Movie Cars, including dynamic displays of Hollywood Cars, 007 James Bond, Batmobiles, Vespa Scooters, Military and Micro Cars.
- Nona Adventure Park announced major upgrades coming to its park this spring. The updated features will include an outdoor event venue, a beach, an inflatable playground for kids and a new menu. Other additions to the park include changing rooms, new aqua features, open swimming and kayak and paddle board rentals.
- Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets has begun a property transformation, to include a new reimagined food hall, common areas, play area, an upgraded and enclosed stairwell and bridge connecting the parking deck to the shopping center. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
- Wild Florida expanded by more than six times its size to add a drive-through safari, bringing visitors nose-to-snout with giraffes, wild boars and other exotic creatures. A total of 75 acres has just been added to the attraction's 13-acre park for the new feature. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to drive their own cars down a two-mile trail or use a buggy provided by the park, with animals separated from each other by fencing.
- ICON Park, located on International Drive and home to The Wheel and Starflyer attractions, will welcome two major thrill rides and a museum:
- The Museum of Illusions Orlando is set to open this summer, featuring optical, photographic, holographic and interactive illusions, perfect for selfies.
- The Orlando Slingshot will catapult guests 450 feet into the air and is set to the be the World’s Tallest Slingshot ride.
- The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower will reach 400 feet, making it the world's tallest free-standing drop tower. Riders freefall at up to 75 miles per hour.
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
- Pointe Orlando will get a $32 million makeover by summer 2020. These upgrades include new signage, landscaping and 100-foot passageway that will connect visitors to other parts of the complex. This makeover will also include the additions of several new restaurants such as:
- Rodizio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse opened in January 2020. The restaurant features an Unlimited Gourmet Salad Bar and authentic side dishes coupled with unlimited rotisserie-grilled meats carved tableside by Rodizio Gauchos.
- Kavas Tacos + Tequila opens in September 2020. The local-owned restaurant will feature Mexican comfort food, tequila flights and entertainment.
- The Hampton Social will open a new location at Pointe Orlando. Themed after the New York coastal resort region, the restaurant specializes in seafood, pizza and brunch, with unique dishes like chicken and doughnuts and a signature “rose all day.”
- New BBQ concept, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, opens in June 2020. The 3,776-square-foot North Carolina-style barbeque joint will be located on the upper level near the movie theater.
- Teatro Martini, the new ‘burlesque’ show from the producers of Pirates Dinner Adventure, is now open. The adults-only dinner show features a variety of stage acts including stand-up comedy, hula-hoops, juggling and magic.
- Sweet Shiba, a shibu inu-themed dessert café, has opened on International Drive. The Japanese inspired café features milk teas, bubble waffles, crepes and Japanese and Chinese street food like Takoyaki and Jianbing.
- City Works Eatery & Pour House opened in the Disney Springs’ West Side district in February 2020. The 8,632-square-foot eatery offers plenty of high-def TVs – perfect for viewing live sporting events – and serves local, regional and global craft brews along with an American-style menu featuring burgers, ribs, fish and pasta dishes.
- Camelo Pizzaria is coming to International Drive in early 2020. The Brazilian thin-crust pizza place will be the first location outside Brazil, and will feature a bar, wood-fire ovens and seating for up to 160 people.
- Bovine Steakhouse, a new concept from the owners of 310 Restaurants and Blu on the Avenue, will open this March on Park Avenue in Winter Park. The restaurant will feature high quality meats and locally sourced produce.
- Sixty Vines, a restaurant with Napa Valley-inspired seasonal cuisine, will open in spring 2020 in Winter Park. Known as “the winemaker’s restaurant,” the Dallas concept will offer guests 60 types of wine on tap.
- Veg’n Out, a new plant-based quick-serve restaurant concept, will open in Lake Nona this spring. The eatery will offer grab-and-go cold-pressed juices; a cleanse/detox program; smoothies and smoothie bowls; and salad, soup, oat and grain bowls that are organic, gluten free, and available for online ordering, pick up, limited delivery and catering.
- Knife & Spoon, a steak and seafood restaurant headed by four-time James Beard Award semifinalist for “Best Southwest Chef,” John Tesar, will move into The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes’ former Norman’s restaurant space. The restaurant will feature an expanded lounge area decorated with Persian rugs that drape over low walls and flow to the floor and burled wood cocktail tables while the dining room features a Pantheonic dome resembling a cave opening to the sky. The restaurant is expected to open spring 2020.
- Norman’s, the restaurant previously located at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando headed by Norman Van Aken, will be moving to Restaurant Row, set to reopen in spring 2020.
- Ole Red, a new restaurant by country superstar Blake Shelton, will open at ICON Park April 17 and merge southern hospitality, good food and live country music. Additional restaurants coming to ICON Park in 2020 are Ox Grill and Mikado.
- Cucina Pizza, a West Palm Beach-based restaurant, is expected to open on Church Street this summer. The eatery will feature a build-your-own pizza concept and a bar.
- Portillo’s, a popular Chicago restaurant, announced the location for its third chain in Florida at Village at O-Town West in Lake Buena Vista near Walt Disney World. Diners with a connection to the Midwest will be drawn to the restaurant for its customer favorites like hot dogs, burgers, salads, chocolate cake and craft beer. The restaurant is scheduled to open in late-2020.
- G.’s Market, a 22,000-square-foot lakefront food hall, will provide an array of retail, beverage, and food, including craft burgers, pizza, a new twist on southern fried chicken, artisan coffee, tacos, barbecue, sushi and more from popular Central Florida brands as well as new to the Orlando market vendors. A second-floor bar and seating area, including a patio, provide views of Lake Hancock and nightly theme park fireworks. The food hall is expected to open in December.
HOTELS & RESORTS
- JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa, set to open March 2020, will feature a Spa by JW®; resort pool with splash pad; specialty restaurants; and a rooftop terrace boasting nightly views of theme park fireworks.
- Universal Orlando Resort will open Dockside Inn and Suites March 17, 2020 as part of Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. This coastal-themed hotel will join its sister property, Surfside Inn and Suites, in the destination’s all-new value hotel category. Dockside Inn and Suites will offer 2,050 relaxed and casual guest rooms and suites, including two-Bedroom Suites, that will sleep six comfortably and feature a kitchenette and separate bath and vanity areas, so the whole family can get ready in time to experience Early Park Admission.
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort announced its new Pirate Island hotel will open on April 17, 2020. The hotel will be connected to the existing LEGOLAND Hotel and next to Lake Eloise, just steps away from the main entrance to the theme park. The hotel will feature 150 rooms, an expansive pool and pool deck, hundreds of LEGO models and numerous character experiences.
Orlando City SC announced an additional facility in Osceola County, adding a 5,400 seat stadium located on the grounds of the Club’s new training complex at Osceola Heritage Park (OHP). The Club will make the stadium the new home field for Orlando City B starting in the 2020 United Soccer League (USL) League One season.
WHAT’S NEXT: 2021 AND BEYOND
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort announced plans for its fourth Orlando theme park, Epic Universe, opening in 2023. The new theme park will also feature an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants and more. It will be located within a larger 750-acre site south of Sand Lake Road and east of Universal Boulevard.
Walt Disney World Resort
- Magic Kingdom Park will bring the TRON Lightcycle Run to a new area near Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. The attraction is scheduled to open for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. Magic Kingdom will also be getting a new venue for world-class entertainment on Main Street, U.S.A. that will be modeled after the Willis Wood Theater in 1920s Kansas City.
- The evolution of Epcot will continue over the coming years. Future highlights include:
- The Mary Poppins attraction, located in the United Kingdom pavilion, where guests will step in time down Cherry Tree Lane past Admiral Boom’s house, then enter Number 17, home of the Banks family, where the adventure will begin.
- Wonderous China will take guests on a journey across the country with seamless 360-degree digital format.
- The Iconic Spaceship Earth will remain a voyage through time but with new narration and an entirely new musical score focusing on the moments and ideas that define the story of humanity.
- A new pavilion providing elevated views of the entire park and an ideal spot to witness Epcot’s nighttime spectacular. The new pavilion will also feature live events and be the new home base for Epcot’s signature festivals.
- Epcot’s entrance plaza will be transformed with new experiences connecting guests with the world around them, welcoming them with a reimagined fountain, new pathways and green spaces. The design will pay homage to the origins of Epcot.
- Dreamers Point, providing guests with a new view of the world showcase as they exit the Spaceship Earth ride. The World celebration will feature a new statue celebrating the legacy of Walt Disney, natural environments, global designs like a wishing tree and a story fountain.
- World Nature will be dedicated to understanding and preserving the beauty, awe and balance of the natural world. It will include The Land and The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilions.
Beyond the Theme Parks
- Orlando Motorsports Park is set to build near Walt Disney World and across the upcoming Margaritaville Resort. The complex will include three courses — one for carts, a “fun” driving course for the general public, and a longer private club course for members and professionals.
- SKYPLEX, a new entertainment complex coming to I-Drive, is set to break world records by bringing the world’s tallest roller coaster to Orlando. The 570-foot-tall structure will be the tallest in Central Florida, and feature the first Polercoaster, a vertical ride dubbed the Skyscraper, weaving in and around the whole tower on coaster-length tracks. The SKYPLEX tower will also offer views of the city via an observation deck, restaurant and lounge at the top. Additionally, a second ride, called Skyfall, which will be the world's tallest drop ride once it opens, rising up to 460 feet and then dropping riders at 65 miles an hour.
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
- Founder of 4 Rivers Smokehouse chain will open 4Roots Farm & Agriculture Center. The 40-acre farm, located in the new developing Packing District, will include educational facilities with a greenhouse, classroom space, discovery center and farm-to-table restaurant. The farm is planned for College Park, just 10 minutes away from downtown Orlando, with the first of its units expected to be available in 2021.
- Beatrix, a Chicago-based restaurant, will open at Disney Springs West Side. The restaurant will include a coffeehouse, bakery, full-service bar and grab-and-go market featuring healthy food options including vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan along with fresh-squeezed juice cocktails.
- White Castle, known for its small, square hamburger sliders, will be opening its first and largest location in Orlando. The 4,500 square-feet restaurant will be located at The Village at O-Town West, just west of I-4 and Seaworld Orlando, with construction expected to be complete by late-2021.
HOTELS & RESORTS
- The Alfond Inn at Rollins, the award-winning boutique hotel in the heart of historic Winter Park, plans to expand the property. The expansion will include 73 new guest rooms, a spa and additional meeting and wedding space and is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021.
- Walt Disney World unveiled plans for its immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser,” opening in 2021. The vacation experience will have guests "board" the starship Halcyon for an experience that puts them into an all-immersive world of Star Wars. The hotel will debut as part of the new Disney 360 vacation concept that gives each guest a storyline upon arrival. It will be a one-of-a-kind experience where luxury meets multi-day adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
- Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is set to open a new 14-story, 349-room hotel tower, called The Cove. The new property will feature meeting rooms with rooftop terraces, a restaurant, full-service health club 90-foot-long pool and more. The property is projected to open in 2021.
- Walt Disney World Resort announced plans to build a nature-inspired, mixed-use resort on Bay Lake. Expected to open by 2022, the deluxe resort will include more than 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas themed to complement the property’s natural surroundings.
- Drury hotels announced a new property, Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando Lake Buena Vista at Disney Springs, opening in spring 2021. The first phase of the 604-room project will include 264 guest rooms and more than 12,000 square feet of meeting space. The new Drury Plaza Hotel also will feature a pool, splash pad and poolside cantina bar and grill; a marketplace with grab-and-go food items and sundries; a kitchen and bar concept; a 24-hour business and fitness center; and other amenities.
- Lake Nona Resort, a new eight-story hotel property focusing on fitness and wellness, will offer services like access to an on-site nutritionist, 24-hour fitness facility, spa, trails and a 120,000-square-foot beach volleyball venue. The resort will allow the community to host more athletes and sport enthusiast visitors in an environment that's attentive to their needs. Lake Nona Resort will have 250 guest rooms and 80 condos and is expected to open in 2023.
- Lake Nona Wave Hotel, a new boutique hotel coming to the Lake Nona Town Center, is expected to open in 2021. The hotel will include more than 200 guest rooms, a sleek exterior, sophisticated lobby, meeting and event space, plus a ground floor with a variety of food, beverage, and retail options.
Orlando Sports and Entertainment District – opening in 2022 in downtown Orlando – will feature a 250-room luxury hotel, a 300-unit high-end residential tower, 80,000 square feet of event space, 100,000 square feet of retail space bordering a large, open-air plaza and a 200,000-square-foot, seven-story class A office building that will be the Orlando Magic’s new headquarters. The complex will primarily cater to basketball fans and other visitors to the Amway Center across Church Street.
- The largest construction project in airport history is underway at Orlando International Airport: The South Terminal Complex. Phase one of the $4.2 billion, multi-year project is expected to be complete in 2021. This project will add 19 gates and includes features such as interactive digital media, indoor and outdoor green spaces, numerous shops, restaurants, lounge facilities and the Intermodal Terminal Facility which will accommodate the South Terminal Automated People Mover and up to three regional rail systems.
- Orange County Convention Center has embarked upon a $605 million capital improvement plan to construct two Campus Master Plan projects. The Convention Way Grand Concourse expansion includes an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space and an 80,000 square foot ballroom. The Multipurpose Venue brings an additional 200,000 square feet of exhibit space in the South building. This expansion will bring total exhibit space at the OCCC to 2.3 million square feet.
NEW WITHIN THE PAST YEAR
Walt Disney World Resort
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a new land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, opened August 29, 2019. Set on the remote planet Batuu, the area features two signature attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, putting guests in the cockpit of the famous space ship, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, where an escape from The First Order turns into all-out battle.
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy, opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in spring 2019, featuring beloved characters from the Cars movie series, including Lightning McQueen, Mater and Cruz Ramirez.
- The “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party” debuted Jan. 18, 2019 at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park. Several times daily, this colorful procession parades up Main Street, U.S.A. where guests are invited to join in the energetic dance party featuring modern remixes of favorite “Mickey Mouse Club” melodies beloved Disney characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto and more.
- Epcot’s brand-new nighttime spectacular, “Epcot Forever,” debuted on Oct. 1, 2019 in the World Showcase Lagoon. It celebrates the past, present and future of Epcot while featuring fireworks, special effect kites, lasers, lights and an original soundtrack produced by Don Harper. Additionally, guests can now visualize the plans of Epcot’s multi-year transformation at a new experience center in the Odyssey Events Pavilion, called Walt Disney Imagineering presents the Epcot Experience.
SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica – SeaWorld’s Waterpark, Bush Gardens Tampa Bay
- Sesame Street – a new land at SeaWorld Orlando – opened March 27, 2019. Guests can explore the iconic neighborhood as they walk through Abby Cadabby’s garden, visit Mr. Hooper’s store, stop by Big Bird’s nest, sit on the famous 123 stoop and meet their favorite friends from Sesame Street including Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird in this new themed land. Elmo and his furry friends, along with parade dancers, invite guests to join the party on Sesame Street during SeaWorld Orlando’s first-ever parade. The immersive area features exciting rides, wet and dry play areas and interactive experiences designed to entertain the entire family.
- Aquatica Orlando opened a new water slide, KareKare Curl on April 12, 2019. The new attraction features two-passenger rafts and allow riders go high up on a vertical wave wall for a feeling of weightlessness before continuing down.
Universal Orlando Resort
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, an all-new roller coaster thrill ride, opened in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure on June 13, 2019. Visitors hurl past impossible obstacles and dodge fierce beasts on a freewheeling coaster flight that brings them close to some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures.
The Lego Movie World debuted at LEGOLAND Florida Resort on March 27, 2019, with three new attractions based on the 2014 film: Unikitty's Disco Drop, Battle of Bricksburg and The Lego Movie Masters of Flight, a unique 180-degree rotating theater attraction with additional 4D elements such as smells and water sprays.
Beyond the Theme Parks
- Fun Spot opened an interactive splash pad for guests in 2019. With over 30 active elements, the 4,000-square-foot attraction for kids is slip-resistant and complimentary for guests with the all-day arm-band pass.
- Nona Adventure Park, opened a new water-sports park featuring an inflatable, floating obstacle course and wakeboarders pulled along by cable. Visitors can buy passes for the whole park or for individual attractions.
- NBA Experience opened at Disney Springs on Aug. 12, 2019. The state-of-the-art space includes interactive games and competitions, immersive experiences, a retail store and an adjacent restaurant.
- BATL Backyard Axe Throwing League opened its first Orlando location in downtown. The venue also offers private parties for up to 100 people and an axe throwing league for those willing to compete in a 7-week regular season.
HOTELS & RESORTS
- Disney Riviera Resort, the 15th Disney Vacation Club property, opened in fall 2019, complete with a rooftop restaurant with views of both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ nighttime spectaculars. The resort is part of the new Disney Skyliner gondola line, connecting the hotel along with three other properties to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- Surfside Inn and Suites at Universal Orlando Resort opened in June 2019, the first of two new value hotels that will make up Universal’s Endless Summer Resort. The hotel offers guests a more affordable on-site experience while keeping the perks of Early Park Admission and resort-wide transportation.
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, the largest of the six convention hotels at Walt Disney World Resort, has expanded in 2019, adding new dining options, resort rooms and outdoor networking spaces. As part of that expansion, a new 15-story tower brings an additional 500 rooms to the resort, including suites and concierge level services. A new rooftop restaurant and lounge atop the tower offers panoramic views of nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks.
- The Delaney Hotel & Delaney’s Tavern are now open. The contemporary boutique hotel is the first of its kind in the district, offering a complete multimillion-dollar restoration to the block. Located on Orange Ave. between Fernwood and Copeland, the hotel features state-of-the-art, modern amenities, such as an in-room touchscreen, in-room spa services and a digital concierge enabling guests to order room service, request new towels and set the alarm clock.
- WoodSpring Suites Signature Hotel, a 4-story and 139-room hotel, opened in spring 2019. Designed to for extended-stay guests, this hotel features three suite layouts, all featuring a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher and stove.
- Home2 Suites by Hilton opened a new 6-story, 122-unit hotel in March 2019. Located off I-Drive, the hotel offers all-suite accommodations with fully accessorized kitchens and modular furniture for ultimate customization options.
- The Crowne Plaza Orlando – Lake Buena Vista opened at the former Parc Royale Hotel Lake Buena Vista property. The renovation featured a revamp of the guestrooms and public spaces t