Orlando, ranked the No. 1 meeting destination in the world by Cvent three years in a row, is about to get even better thanks to massive expansions, enhancements and innovations at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando International Airport and the city’s convention hotels.
“As we continue to expand and upgrade, there will be even more options for groups of every size, and vastly improved connectivity to and around our convention venues,” said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Even though Orlando is already known as one of the most affordable destinations in the country, groups will get an even bigger bang for their buck here.”
Below is a sneak peek into the upcoming plans and their benefits.
Convention Center Expansion
The Orange County Convention Center is in the midst of a $605 million campus improvement plan that will bring significant expansion. It includes new meeting and exhibit spaces in the North and South concourses, further increasing the center’s seven million square feet of total function space. The center brings more than 200 conventions and events to Orlando, hosting 1.4 million attendees each year. The expansion includes:
- The Convention Way Grand Concourse, an enclosed connection between the North and South concourses, features additional meeting space and an 80,000-square-foot ballroom with a grand entrance to the North-South building along Convention Way.
- The 200,000-square-foot Multipurpose Venue is a flexible, divisible, column-free space with a combination of retractable and floor seating to accommodate between 18,000-20,000 guests. This project will also incorporate connectivity between the North and South concourses.
“The center will be able to host bigger meetings with more contiguous space,” said Aguel. “And groups will have more flexibility in selecting dates, as they won’t have to compete for space with sports teams and concerts.”
This new growth comes after five years of growth at the center which enhanced walkability and connectivity between the convention center and the surrounding convention district. There are now five pedestrian skybridges connecting more than 5,200 hotel rooms to the convention center. Within two miles of the convention center, attendees now have access to more than 75 restaurants and attractions.
Notable New Hotels and Renovations
Orlando’s hotel inventory is growing every year, with more than 123,000 rooms—7,300 of which are within a one-mile radius of the convention center. By the end of 2019, that number will reach 128,600. This creates more options to accommodate groups and budgets of all sizes. Some of the biggest projects underway for 2019 and beyond are listed below.
- The new Margaritaville Resort Orlando features 40,000 square feet of technology-forward spaces ideal for meetings, conventions and corporate retreats.
- Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, the largest of the six convention hotels at Walt Disney World Resort, is expanding with construction underway on a new 15-story tower that will bring an additional 500 rooms to the resort. The expansion includes a new rooftop restaurant, meeting venues, a new board room and two multi-purpose rooms to the resort’s current 220,000 square feet of dedicated meeting and function space.
- Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld is adding 30,000 square feet of flexible meetings space to include a new 16,500-square-foot ballroom and six new breakout rooms to be complete in March 2019.
- In summer 2019, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites In 2020, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites opens. With these two projects, a total of 2,800 new rooms and suites will be added to Orlando’s convention district.
- The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has broken ground on 25,000 square feet of flexible ballroom space. With its expansion, the resort will offer a total of 102,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space. The expansion is scheduled to be completed by Fall 2019.
- In 2020, JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opens with 516 guest rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Beginning in 2020, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek transitions into Hilton’s new meetings-and-events-focused brand, Signia Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The transition includes state-of-the-art hotel renovations for meeting professionals and sophisticated business travelers.
- Also in 2020, a new tower at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort debuts with 349 rooms and 22,000 square feet of meeting space. The tower also features its own elevated pool deck, full-service health club, 75-seat restaurant and 50-seat lounge.
Along with a superior and growing infrastructure, meeting planners who hold events in Orlando have the backing of the dedicated destination services team of Visit Orlando. All team members are Certified Meeting Professionals who understand planners’ needs and can leverage their destination expertise to provide an unparalleled experience.
New Airport Terminal
Orlando International Airport already welcomes more than 150 daily nonstop flights from cities around the world, and a new South terminal to be completed in 2021 will add 19 more gates. Once passengers land, they have access to ride share services at designated pick-up and drop-off areas, providing additional convenience and value. Plus, rental cars in Orlando are among the most affordable in the nation.
Passengers already report high satisfaction levels at the Orlando International Airport: MCO ranked second in Wall Street Journal’s U.S. Airport Rankings based on reliability, value and convenience scores. And for the second year in a row, MCO ranked highest in its class in the J.D. Power 2018 North American Airport Satisfaction Study.
About Visit Orlando
Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States and, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area's leading industry. Visit Orlando is responsible for branding, selling and marketing the Orlando destination worldwide, and serves as the official visitor information source.