The latest Orlando happenings updated weekly using information provided by partners and destination press releases. Stay up to date on Orlando's most recent announcements and openings from accommodations and attractions to restaurants and more.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be renovating all nine floors of guest rooms. The rooms will receive a new look inspired by the Disney-Pixar film “The Incredibles,” featuring futuristic and modern custom artwork in guest rooms and guest corridors along with décor elements from the films, including characters such as Edna Mode and Frozone. The renovations are expected to be completed this fall as Walt Disney World prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Hilton Orlando will launch Escape at Hilton Orlando, the world’s largest and tallest escape room experience, this summer. This first of its kind virtual experience will transform the entire resort into an immersive mission of complex clues, challenges, augmented reality and surprising moments by way of an innovative app, allowing guests to embark on their mission from the palm of their hands.
The Alfond Inn, the award-winning boutique hotel in the heart of historic Winter Park, will break ground this summer for its expansion. In addition to the renovation of the existing 112 rooms and suites in the hotel, the expansion will include an additional 71 luxury guestrooms and suites, a lobby café, a new spa that will feature seven treatment rooms, a new fitness area and added meeting space. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2023.
Universal Orlando Resort will unwrap its 2021 holidays celebration on Nov. 13 with 51 days and nights of one-of-a-kind experiences across Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal CityWalk and the resort hotels. Along with the festivities, Universal invites guests to save 30% on a 4-day, 4-night hotel and ticket vacation package if booked by Sept. 8, for travel from Aug. 16 to Dec. 16.
SeaWorld Orlando’s Sesame Street Parade will return July 10. The award-winning parade invites guests of all ages to dance as Elmo, Big Bird and friends make their way through Sesame Street Land in colorful floats at select times throughout the day.
Crayola Experience will team up with OceanX, a leading global non-profit ocean exploration organization, for a first-ever takeover event July 3-25. The event will feature aquatic-themed attractions and activities; tactile experiences; and immersive videos, with an aim to inspire the next generation of ocean explorers through creativity, imagination and wonder.
The Orlando Slingshot™ and Orlando Free Fall™ – two world-record-setting attractions coming to ICON Park – are set to open just in time for the winter holidays this December, adding a whole new level of thrills for vacationers. The Orlando Slingshot™ will stand at 300 feet, making it the world’s tallest slingshot, while the Orlando Free Fall™ will stand at 430 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower.
Sunset Walk Slingshot™, a new volcano-themed attraction opening fall 2021 in Sunset Walk at Margaritaville Resort Orlando, will join the entertainment complex’s lineup of restaurants, shopping and entertainment. The attraction’s towers will stand at 240 feet tall and launch two riders up to 400 feet in the air, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph in under two seconds.
Several new experiences are returning to Walt Disney World theme parks over the next several weeks:
Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ “Wonderful World of Animation” cinematic nighttime experience will return Aug. 1 and transform the park’s iconic Chinese Theater, taking guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation.
On Aug. 15, “Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage” will return to Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard with colorful costumes, gorgeous scenery and the songs fans know and love.
Guests will be greeted once again by Mike Wazowski at the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom Park starting Aug. 8, after being closed for over a year.
Turtle Talk with Crush is reopening Aug. 21 at EPCOT. The totally tubular sea turtle will once again answer guests’ most pressing questions about marine biology, life on the Australian Coast, other Finding Nemo characters and more.
Orlando Science Center’s new Rescue exhibit puts guests (safely) on the front lines and into some of the dangerous situations faced by real-world first responders. The new exhibit is in town through Sept. 6 and is included with admission.
Mad Cow Theatre is returning to live, indoor theatre with the announcement of its 24th season – beginning Oct. 6 – after more than a year of producing virtual and outdoor productions due to COVID-19.
Orlando Repertory Theatre (Orlando REP) announced its 2021-2022 season will open with a theatrical one-man version of the classic The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Oct. 8-31) just in time for Halloween, followed by The Secret Agency (Oct. 22-23), Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Nov. 12 – Dec. 19), Pip-Squeak: An Anti-Bullying Magic Show (Jan. 10-15), Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds (Jan. 28 – Feb 20) and a one-act edition of Disney’s Freaky Friday The Musical (April 1 – May 8). The 2021-2022 season also includes professionally produced shows featuring students of Orlando REP’s Youth Academy as well as Theatre for the Very Young at Orlando REP created specifically for 1- to 5-year-olds.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
Orlando was named the Most Dog-Friendly City for a Vacation in the US and Best City for Pet-Friendly Hotels, according to a study by Booking.com. This was based on the number of pet-friendly hotels, pet stores, dog-friendly parks and fun hikes.
Orlando ranked No. 1 for Best U.S. City for Recreation, according to WalletHub. To determine the places where recreation is a high priority, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 48 key metrics that speak to the benefits of recreational activities, and Orlando topped the list.
DINING & NIGHTLIFE
Gatsby on Church – a new roaring ’20s-themed club on Church Street – opened earlier this month. The new venue offers an ongoing immersive experience with live music and entertainment themed after The Great Gatsby and the decade in which it was set.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar Orlando re-launched its award-winning nightlife at Pointe Orlando. The restaurant transforms into a Latin hotspot after dinner hours and continues into the early morning from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends with Tropical Fridays, a sophisticated over-25 event and Bailamos Saturdays, featuring DJs, professional dancers, specialty entertainers, colorful special effects and more.
EVENTS & FESTIVALS
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art will offer free admission for the month of August with the resumption of pre-pandemic public hours, capacities and other aspects of the daily visitor experience. Guests visiting during the free admission period have the chance to view Selected Portraits from the Morse Collection, featuring more than a dozen paintings by leading American portraitists and photographs by early American studios.
SeaWorld Orlando unveiled several themed Howl-O-Scream elements, including a new haunted house called Beneath the Ice; a rock and rhythm show inspired by Victorian-era London called Monster Stomp; and a new themed bar experience called Tormented, serving frosty drinks. Howl-O-Scream takes place select nights Friday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 31.
Give Kids The World Village will host its second annual Night of a Million Lights holiday spectacular, set to take place Nov. 12, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022 from 5 to 10 p.m. The dancing lights show offers unique behind-the-scenes experiences, including a sparkling tree trail; larger-than-life holiday displays; photo opportunities at one-of-a-kind step-in frames and backdrops; and a guided storytelling tour of 100 magnificently lit villas from the comfort of a tram. Tickets are on sale now at www.gktw.org/lights
SeaWorld Orlando will offer guests limited-time savings of up to 70% off on tickets to Howl-O-Scream Orlando. Tickets during the Sinister Sale of the nighttime Halloween event start at $29.99 through July 25.
Universal Orlando Resort will debut all-new mazes inspired by Netflix’s critically-acclaimed series “The Haunting of Hill House” for Halloween Horror Night 2021, beginning Sept. 3. The mazes feature iconic scenes from the series, including the omni-powerful Red Room – the heart of Hill House – and the Hall of Statues, where deceptive powers overtake everyone who enters.
Walt Disney World Resort will resume in-person runDisney races this fall. The 2021-2022 season will consist of four events; Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend powered by AfterShokz, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend and runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend presented by Otterbox. While race weekends may not include every element from previous years, there will be new elements this season to enhance the running experience.
SeaWorld Orlando will offer a complimentary 12-ounce beer per park visit to guests 21 years and over through Aug. 12. The free brews offerings will be rotated periodically and available at the park daily from 11:30 a.m. until one hour before park close at Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio Bar.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art will introduce the new exhibition, The Stebbins Collection: A Gift for the Morse Museum, on November 9 for the museum’s 2021-2022 season. Drawing exclusively from the works donated by American art pioneer Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. and Susan Cragg Stebbins, the collection will include 70 works of art by 53 artists including Thomas Moran, Fidelia Bridges, Thomas Eakins and others.
The 19th annual Global Peace Film Festival returns this year with a hybrid format to deliver a robust program that includes thought-provoking films and art exhibits for people all over the world. Starting on the International Day of Peace on Sept. 21 and running through Sept. 26, a selection of feature and short films will be presented in person at locations in Winter Park and Orlando highlighting themes such as civil rights, environmental justice, ethics, human rights, immigration, LGBTQ+, music, social justice, voting, wellness and wildlife.
The Park Avenue District is celebrating the Dog Days of Summer by inviting locals to bring their pups to shop and dine at pet-friendly businesses on July 31. More than 20 small businesses will participate, by offering free Dog Days goodie bags.
The Flavors of Florida food festival at Disney Springs is going on now through Aug. 12. More than 30 restaurants and stores at the dining, entertainment and shopping complex are offering a slice of summer with Sunshine State-inspired dishes and beverages throughout the event.
Full House stars Dave Coulier, Bob Saget and John Stamos will make an appearance at this year’s MegaCon Orlando on Saturday, Aug. 14. MegaCon Orlando will run Aug. 12 -15 at the Orange County Convention Center.
Emirates resumed commercial service with four weekly flights from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Orlando International Airport (MCO), following a 15-month break.