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05/02/2016

 

 Orlando Welcomed 66 Million Visitors in 2015

Doubles Visitation over Past Two Decades

 

 

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 2, 2016) - Visit Orlando announced a new all-time record for the destination. In 2015, 66.1 million people visited Orlando, growing 5.5 percent from 2014 and solidifying Orlando's position as the most visited destination in the nation. Visitation to Orlando more than doubled over the past 20 years, growing from 32.4 million in 1995.

 

"Reaching more than 66 million visitors to Orlando is an amazing accomplishment for our tourism community," said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. "This new milestone and rapid growth over the past two decades is a result of having a tourism industry and community partners that are focused on growth and investment, dedication to the needs of our visitors and the global marketing and sales efforts of our Visit Orlando team and member companies."

 

A record 33 million room nights were sold in Orlando in 2015, resulting in record tourist development tax collections topping $230 million in Orange County, Fla., home to the Central Florida tourism district.

 

"We're so proud to break another national record and again be named the top visitor destination for the U.S.," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.  "With our superb convention center and culture of hospitality, world-class theme parks, family-friendly entertainment and luxury dining and lodging amenities, it's no surprise that Central Florida remains the top destination for business, family and leisure guests."

 

Visit Orlando announced the record-breaking achievement at its annual Travel & Tourism Luncheon, a celebration of Orlando's tourism community, attended by more than 800 tourism and community leaders. The event was held during the 33rd annual National Travel and Tourism Week, which unites communities each year to celebrate what travel means to American jobs, economic growth and personal well-being.

 

"Orlando has reached yet another historic milestone with more than 66 million visitors in 2015-a significant achievement for Orlando and the U.S. travel industry," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "The region's remarkable commitment to travel and tourism-with especial kudos to Visit Orlando, its tourism community members, and the leadership of local public officials-enabled it to hit yet another visitation record."

 

Since 1995, Orlando's hotel inventory grew by more than 37 percent, topping 117,000 rooms in 2015. Passengers at Orlando International Airport increased by more than 72 percent, reaching 38,809,337 in 2015. In the past two decades, significant openings and expansions have continued to reinforce Orlando as the theme park capital of the world and a leading convention destination. Orlando also established a robust lineup of luxury offerings to meet the needs of travelers seeking five-star service and amenities and downtown Orlando experienced a renaissance with new arts and sports venues. The destination emerged as a thriving culinary destination, garnering consistent James Beard Award nominations for local chefs while also attracting internationally-praised celebrity chefs with new culinary concepts.

 

 

About Visit Orlando

Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations, represents the area's leading industry.

 

 

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04/22/2016

 

Visit Orlando Unveils Spring Deals for Florida Residents

Florida Residents Save up to 50% in Orlando

 

ORLANDO, Fla. - Year-round warm weather, no state income tax and the theme park capital of the world just a short drive away are among the advantages of living in Florida. Visit Orlando, the official tourism association for the destination, launched new perks for Florida residents with exclusive deals on spring travel to Orlando. From April 25 through June 15, Florida Residents can take advantage of more than 50 theme park and attraction offers; discounted hotel rates; dining deals and more gathered at VisitOrlando.com/Florida, offering savings up to 50%. A selection of offers includes:

Theme Parks

SeaWorld Orlando - Save $30 on a 2-Park Combo Ticket for SeaWorld and Aquatica

Universal Orlando Resort - Save over $45 off gate prices on select multi-day tickets

Walt Disney World Resort - Specially priced 3- , 4- day base tickets and annual passes are available for Florida residents

Other Attractions

Orlando Balloon Rides - $50 off for adults, $20 off for children

Wild Florida - 50% off all tickets plus free souvenir shot glass

SKELETONS: Animals Unveiled - Buy adult entry and get child entry free

Accommodations

• Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive - 30% off best available rate; free parking and internet; plus no resort fee on stays of two nights or more

CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort Orlando - 25% off; rates from $69

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - 20% off standard rates and any spa service

Dining/Nightlife

• Black Fire Brazilian Steakhouse - All-you-can-eat meat, buffet and drinks for $34.95

Señor Frog's Orlando - Free cover every Friday; 20% off food and retail items and 2-for-1 10 oz. signature drinks

Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar - Complimentary dessert or Mojito

Orlando's Must-See Special Events This Spring
Orlando celebrates spring through music, art and fabulous food. Florida residents can complement their spring Orlando itinerary with a variety of special events, including:

• The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Resort unites all the best things about spring, from fresh flavors, world-class concerts, blooming works of art and more. The festival runs now through May 30.

• Viva La Musica at SeaWorld Orlando is a celebration of Hispanic music, food and culture. Included in regular park admission, April 23, May 7 and 14.

25th Annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival is a celebration of theater, art and music. Fringe runs May 18-30 and encompasses hundreds of shows, the Visual Fringe, outdoor concerts and "The Kids Fringe Tour."

 

Visitors can access the full list of exclusive Florida resident offers, plus insider tips, a full events calendar and updates at VisitOrlando.com/Florida.

 

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03/03/2016

 

 

  

Orlando Named No. 1 Destination for Spring Break

Super Savings and Seasonal Events Abound in Orlando

 

 ORLANDO, Fla. - In a recent study of traveler data, Orlando was ranked the No. 1 Spring Break Destination for 2016, according to Orbitz.com. The survey found that travelers are looking for relaxation, convenience and affordability this spring break, making Orlando the ideal destination.

Famous for having seven of the world's top theme parks, Orlando has grown to offer even more, from fine dining and outdoor adventures to festivals and weather fit for waterparks. With so much to see, taste and do, guests will want to take advantage of the best spring break deals in Orlando. Visit Orlando offers discounts from some of the area's most popular theme parks, including SeaWorld Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort and LEGOLAND Florida Resort. At VisitOrlando.com/deals, guests can find even more savings on hotels, attractions, restaurants, shopping and beyond. Examples include:

HOTEL DEALS

  • Avanti Resort, located in the center of International Drive, is offering rates starting at $79
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  • The luxurious JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes is offering 20 percent off and a $25 resort credit on stays over a weekend, now through March 31
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  • Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa is just minutes away from the Walt Disney World Resort and is offering 20 percent off
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    ATTRACTION DEALS

  • America's Escape Game challenges guests to be their own heroes, and escapees can save 20 percent off standard ticket prices for up to 10 players
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  • Capone's Dinner Show offers an evening's entertainment for a bargain at 50 percent off all tickets; endless buffet included
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  • Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, located in Winter Park and featuring the world's most comprehensive collection of works by American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, is offering complimentary admission
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  • Nature lovers can catch a glimpse of alligators, eagles, turkeys, wild boars, roseate spoonbills and other native creatures with 15 percent off all one-hour airboat tours and wildlife park admission at Wild Florida
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    ORLANDO'S MUST-DO ACTIVITIES THIS SPRING

  • Sports fans will find a unique treat in catching an Atlanta Braves Spring Training game at ESPN Wide World of Sports, now through the end of March
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  • Those in the mood to groove can celebrate Mardi Gras at Universal Studios Florida on select nights through April 16, with top-name music acts, authentic New Orleans cuisine, thousands of beads and a colorful parade
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  • The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at Walt Disney World Resort unites all the best things about spring, from fresh flavors, world-class concerts, blooming works of art and more. The festival runs now through May 30.
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  • With so much Florida sunshine, Orlando's world-famous water parks are already offering refreshing excitement for guests of all ages at Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark, Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Wet ‘n Wild - Orlando
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  • It's the perfect season for food lovers to visit Orlando, as kitchens across the destination burst with fresh ingredients. Farm-to-table cuisine plays a key role in Orlando's growing food scene at new local-favorites like Slate and Urbain 40 on Restaurant Row. Unique eats and seasonal ingredients are also found at Disney Spring's new dining venues, including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's Morimoto Asia, and The BOATHOUSE.
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    Guests can find even more spring break activities on the Visit Orlando blog.

    For more information about vacation experiences in Orlando, to order a complimentary vacation planning kit that includes a comprehensive Official Visitors Guide or to purchase discount attraction tickets, visitors can log onto Orlando's official website at VisitOrlando.com or call an Orlando Destination Specialist at 1-800-972-3304 (United States and Canada) or 407-363-5872. For real time updates, follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/VisitOrlando or Facebook at Facebook.com/VisitOrlando. While in Orlando, visitors may stop by the Official Visitor Center located at 8723 International Drive.

     

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    02/25/2016

     

    Visit Orlando Hits the Road with Expanded Visitor Services Along Florida's Most Popular Tourist Motorway

     

    ORLANDO, Fla. - (February 25, 2016) - Visit Orlando, the official tourism association representing the most visited destination in Florida and the United States, will extend its robust visitor services capabilities to reach millions of daily motorists along Florida's Turnpike. The partnership between Visit Orlando and Areas USA, a leader in food & beverage services and travel retail, will provide travelers along one of the country's most popular tourism corridors with the latest destination information and convenient access to a variety of accommodation and attraction products to Orlando and Central Florida's many popular tourism sites.

    "Visit Orlando's highly-visible destination presence along this tourist-packed motorway is a significant extension of our current visitor services that will reach millions of visitors to our state. As Orlando continues to experience extraordinary growth, connecting more closely with so many travelers in a convenient, informative and interactive way in these travel plazas is an important service we can now provide," said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel.

    Inside seven of Florida's Turnpike newly-renovated travel plaza locations, a combination of staffed and self-service interactive kiosks serve as personal and virtual Orlando travel concierges. Friendly and knowledgeable staff will offer visitors in Fort Drum, West Palm and Fort Pierce travel plazas tailored vacation planning guidance. The touch-screen kiosks at Okahumpka, Turkey Lake, Canoe Creek and Pompano plazas digitally connect travelers with a variety of attraction deals, services and destination information on Orlando and other sites in Central Florida. TV monitors located throughout the seven travel plaza locations will also provide visitors with up-to-date highlights of the memorable experiences only Orlando can provide.

    About Visit Orlando
    Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations; represent the area's leading industry.

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    02/23/2016

     

     

    Visit Orlando President & CEO Honored With 
    Lifetime Achievement Award 

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel was honored with the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International's (HSMAI) Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Marketing at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala on Feb. 16 in New York City.

    The Albert E. Koehl Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality Marketing recognizes individuals who have spent a major portion of their careers in the hospitality and travel profession and have contributed to the betterment of the industry in a significant and lasting way, over an extended period of time. The award is named in honor of Albert E. Koehl, a pioneer in hotel advertising.

    "George is a key player in the hospitality and travel community, and is making innovative strides while representing the most visited destination in the country," said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI.

    Prior to Visit Orlando, Aguel served as senior vice president of global corporate alliances and operating participants at The Walt Disney Company in Burbank, CA where he led worldwide management for the company's strategic corporate partnership agreements across all business units of the company. Throughout his 23 years with the company, Aguel also served as senior vice president of Worldwide Sales and Services for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and head of the company's timeshare division. Prior to Disney, Aguel was the senior sales and marketing officer for Gaylord/Opryland in Nashville.

    Throughout his career, Aguel has held a number of leadership roles within the travel and tourism industry. He has twice been recognized as one of HSMAI's "25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Sales and Marketing." He is among a select group of industry professionals to receive the Academy of Leaders Award from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and be inducted into the Convention Industry Council Hall of Leaders. He's also an ASAE Fellow and recipient of the Professional Convention Management Associations (PCMA), Professional Achievement Award and the APEX award from Black Meetings & Tourism. He has served as chairman of Meeting Professionals International and a board member of numerous other industry groups including his current role on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Travel Association and Board of PCMA. In his own community, Aguel served as a member of the Board and Chairman of Visit Orlando as well as the Orange County, FL. Tourist Development Council. He was also recognized with the Metro Orlando Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Don Quixote Award.

    Aguel joins past Lifetime Achievement award recipients including: Richard Branson, Michael D. Eisner, Bill Marriott, Christopher Nassetta, Barry Sternlicht, Jonathan M. Tisch, and Donald J. Trump.

     

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    02/18/2016

     Orlando Chefs Named Semifinalists for 2016 James Beard Awards

     

     

    ORLANDO, Fla., (Feb. 18, 2016) - Four Orlando chefs have been named semifinalists in the "Best Chefs in the South" category for the prestigious James Beard Foundation's 2016 Restaurant and Chef Award. Orlando's 2016 nominees are:

    • Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon

    • Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

    • James and Julie Petrakis, The Ravenous Pig

    "This year's four chef nominees recognized by the James Beard Foundation serve as appropriate representatives for the passionate, creative and increasingly honored culinary community of Orlando," said Visit Orlando President & CEO George Aguel. "Our local chef community, together with increased attention from international celebrity chefs, ensure Orlando locals and visitors receive unforgettable dining experiences."

    Orlando's flourishing food scene and reputation as a tourism hotspot has sparked the attention of international culinary superstars. In 2015 Chef Masaharu Morimoto of "Iron Chef America" fame opened his first pan-Asian restaurant in Orlando at Disney Springs. In 2016, Disney Springs will also welcome Chef Rick Bayless' new Mexican dining concept, Frontera Fresco, and Florida native Chef Art Smith's Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine.  

    Homegrown chefs and 2016 semifinalists James and Julie Petrakis, continue to grow their culinary reach throughout Orlando. Adding to the successful Winter Park locations of Ravenous Pig, Cask and Larder and Swine and Sons, the Petrakis will soon open their next project, in Downtown Orlando: a twist on the Classic French brasserie called Dovecote.

    Although it may surprise some new visitors to hear of Orlando's flourishing food scene, locals and traveling foodies are no strangers to the epicurean delights crafted by the city's chefs, including Orlando's 2016 James Beard Award Semifinalists.

    About Orlando's James Beard Award Semifinalists:

    Kathleen Blake started cooking in her grandmother's kitchen growing up in Iowa. She attended the Community College of San Francisco's Apprenticeship Program, which landed her at Square One Restaurant. A Women Chef & Restaurateurs Scholarship Award brought her to Washington, DC as the chef de cuisine at the heralded Restaurant Nora. After meeting and becoming friends with Melissa Kelly, she moved to Orlando to become Melissa's chef de cuisine at Primo at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes. In 2011 she opened the Rusty Spoon, a gastropub in downtown Orlando.

    Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista, FL and its chef, Scott Hunnel, have long been synonymous with fine dining at Walt Disney World Resort. For the past 16 years in a row, the restaurant has been the recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award, among many other honors. The restaurant offers six-course prixe fixe meals of Modern American cuisine using ingredients sourced from products around the world, with a focus on local markets and seaports in Florida.

    • Graduates of the Culinary Institute of America, Julie and James Petrakis opened their American gastropub, The Ravenous Pig, in 2007 and have been receiving accolades ever since. The Pig has been so successful that the couple opened a sister restaurant in Winter Park in 2012. Dubbed Cask & Larder, the restaurant is a micro pub with Southern artisanal food and hand-crafted beer. Continuing to expand in 2015, the pair opened Swine & Sons Provisions, their third Winter Park locale, specializing in takeout charcuterie; butcher sandwiches; homemade pastry offerings and more. 2016 is set to be a landmark year for the couple, with plans to add two more venues to their culinary empire: an airport outpost of Cask & Larder, as well as the new French concept, Dovecote.

     

     

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    01/20/2016

    Orlando Plans for Another Banner Year 
    with Expansions and Openings in 2016

     

    Named by Cvent as the number one meetings destination in the United States, Orlando has proven to be a city that continues to evolve with even more event and meeting space, more group dining venues, new teambuilding experiences and state-of-the-art expansions and upgrades. Meeting professionals in Orlando have unlimited options for creating one-of-a-kind events.

    New in 2016

    The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is undergoing a multi-phase, multi-year, $125 million redesign project that will transform all 2,265 guest rooms in both the Swan and Dolphin buildings with a brand new look. The hotel's meeting and convention space will also be equipped with the latest advancements in high density Wi-Fi technology.

    Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa, one of Orlando's iconic condominium-style resorts, is expanding its meeting offerings with the development of 20,000 square feet of new meeting and banquet space. When construction of the new space is complete, the 3,000-villa resort will offer a total of 36,000 square feet of meeting space and a steakhouse ideal for group buyouts. Opening early 2016, the space is now available for bookings.

    DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation featuring an all-new  20,000 square foot ballroom, new pool decks, and 100,000 sq. of indoor/outdoor meeting and event space which will be completed in 2016.

    Universal Orlando Resort and Loews Hotels & Resorts is building the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (pictured above). It will be the fifth onsite hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, featuring 1,000 rooms and suites with a casual Caribbean theme, built around a lagoon and towering waterfall. The resort is expected to open in the summer. It will also open the new Loews Meetings Complex, which will consist of 247,000 square feet of contiguous meeting space between Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

    Construction is under way on the $28 million-Hyatt House at 5370 International Drive.  The 175-room property is part of Hyatt's limited service, extended stay brand and is the first in Orlando. Opening is planned for summer 2016.

    Walt Disney World Resort will complete a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. Featuring an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, this new expansion will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, to more than 150 establishments. The new area will include already announced restaurants:

    The Edison centers around a 1920s-period electric company with live entertainment, classic American food and craft cocktails. With 35-foot ceilings and a range of themed areas to explore, The Edison will feature nightly entertainment including contortionists, palm readers, DJs and more.

    Frontera Fresca, the creation of celebrity Chef Rick Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation award winner, will have authentic Mexican cuisine featuring specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads and fresh-made guacamole.

    Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine from celebrity chef and native Floridian Art Smith. The restaurant will offer Southern classics and whimsical cocktails.
    STK will open early this year and will blend a modern steakhouse with a chic lounge. It features a DJ in a high-energy atmosphere. 

    Universal Orlando Resort announced a new groundbreaking attraction opening in summer at Universal's Islands of Adventure."Skull Island: Reign of Kong" will honor one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong. Guests will board large vehicles and explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives and fending off unspeakable terrors. 

    SeaWorld Orlando announced plans for Mako, a brand new 200-foot-tall coaster opening in summer 2016. Named for one of the ocean's fastest known sharks, it will be Orlando's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 73 mph as it races along 4,760 feet of steel track. SeaWorld's new hypercoaster will be the centerpiece of the newly themed two-acre plaza. The surrounding realm will be fully shark themed, providing guests with the opportunity to learn about the impact humans have on sharks and why these animals are critical to the environment.

    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will add Heroes and Legends featuring the U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame and showcase the heroism of America's early space pioneers by inviting guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America's earliest missions through high-tech elements and special effects. The Space Center also offers event space with full-service catering and the Astronaut Training Experience team-building activity.

    Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek commenced a major expansion project set to increase the resort's available meeting space by 7,000 square feet by early May 2016. The project is designed to enhance the resort's current meeting space offerings with larger, more flexible spaces that will be adjacent to the resort building.

    Villas of Grand Cypress announced the redesign of its Executive Meeting Center, a standalone complex that houses 7,200 square-feet of flexible indoor/outdoor event space. Situated on the resort's 1,500 acres in Orlando's Lake Buena Vista neighborhood and framed by the Villas' 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed golf, the Executive Meeting Center is the latest update to the Forbes Four Star, AAA Four Diamond-rated hotel, following the recent $17 million renovation to its 146 guest rooms. 

    Mango's Tropical Café, which just opened, is the newest addition to the I-Drive landscape. With nightly entertainment and several private rooms for groups, it's a spectacular venue for one-of-a-kind events.

    Disney's Animal Kingdom, the future home to Avatar, offers exciting adventures and unique encounters with real, exotic animals, plus one-of-a-kind guest experiences with fictional animals and giant dinosaurs from the prehistoric world. Not-to-miss attractions include Expedition Everest, a high-speed train adventure; "Finding Nemo - The Musical," a live 30-minute musical show; TriceraTop Spin; Primeval Whirl!; DINOSAUR, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Festival of the Lion King, a live 30-minute musical show.

    In 2016, watch for new, yet-to-be announced restaurants at one of Orlando's newest dining and entertainment complex, I-Drive 360 where the 400-foot-tall Orlando Eye resides, surrounded by Madame Tussauds and SEALIFE Aquarium.

     

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    12/11/2015

    From Springs to Falls To Frozen, Orlando
    Awash With ‘A Sweet 16' Of New Openings In 2016

     

    ORLANDO, Fla. - From popular film franchises Frozen and King Kong to Orlando's tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster, the theme park capital of the world is a destination where unique experiences mix with activities specifically for kids and families.

    While Orlando has long been known as home to seven of the top theme parks in the world, Disney, Universal and SeaWorld constantly evolve each year with one-of-a-kind attractions, resorts and retail, dining and entertainment complexes.

    With vehicles diving into movie magic and immersive themed environments, Orlando's newest openings set the stage for another year of millions of unforgettable guest experiences that can only be found in Orlando.

    NEW IN 2016

    • Walt Disney World Resort will complete a multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs. Featuring an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, this new expansion will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, to more than 150 establishments. The new area will include already announced restaurants:

    The Edison, similar to its sister location in Los Angeles, is the third new venue announced to open at Disney Springs. With a theme that centers around a 1920s-period electric company with live entertainment, classic American food and craft cocktails, the industrial gothic space will have 35-foot ceilings and a number of themed areas.

    Frontera Fresca also opens at Disney Springs, the creation of celebrity Chef Rick Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation award winner. Known for his authentic Mexican cuisine, Bayless' menu includes specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all crafted with his time-honored recipes.

    Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine is celebrity Chef Art Smith's new restaurant opening in summer at Disney Springs. The James Beard Foundation award winner was born and reared in the town of Jasper, Fla., and after 25 years of preparing award-winning meals for celebrities and heads of state and appearing on television, he is making Florida his home once again. The rustic-chic restaurant will feature Southern classics and whimsical cocktails, punches and coolers.

    STK planned to open in early in the year, an upscale steakhouse that blends two concepts into one-the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge. Features include a live DJ, high-energy atmosphere and a sleek environment designed to encourage guests to interact and mingle.

    • Universal Orlando Resort announced a new groundbreaking attraction opening in summer at Universal's Islands of Adventure. "Skull Island: Reign of Kong" will honor one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong. Guests will board large vehicles and explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives and fending off unspeakable terrors.

    • SeaWorld Orlando announced plans for Mako, a brand new 200-foot-tall coaster opening in summer. Named for one of the ocean's fastest known sharks, it will be Orlando's tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 73 mph as it races along 4,760 feet of steel track. SeaWorld's new hypercoaster will be the centerpiece of the newly themed two-acre plaza. The surrounding realm will be fully shark themed, providing guests with the opportunity to learn about the impact humans have on sharks and why these animals are critical to the environment.

    • Universal Orlando Resort and Loews Hotels & Resorts have announced plans to build the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. It will be the fifth onsite hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, featuring 1,000 rooms and suites with a casual Caribbean theme, built around a lagoon and towering waterfall. The resort is expected to open in the summer.

    • Epcot guests will be able to visit the kingdom of Arendelle when the highly anticipated attraction "Frozen Ever After" opens in the Norway Pavilion. The family adventure welcoming guests to the magical world of "Frozen" will feature the popular story of the royal sisters, hit songs and new technology for an icy trek that is sure to warm hearts. Once onboard their boat, guests will visit Arendelle for the Winter in Summer Celebration.

    • On Soarin' Around the World guests on board the popular Soarin' attraction will journey to far-flung lands and fly above some of the world's most unique natural landscapes and man-made wonders when the new Soarin' Around the World makes its debut at Epcot.

    Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris, the popular Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park will be extended for a new nighttime adventure. Guests will travel through the African savanna amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.

    "Rivers of Light" is an innovative experience unlike anything ever seen in a Disney park, combining live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. "Rivers of Light" will magically come to life on the natural stage of Discovery River, delighting guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park.

    "The LEGO® MovieTM 4D A New Adventure" is premiering at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort on Jan. 29. The new 4D animated film will feature the popular characters from The LEGO® MovieTM and use elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects. The larger-than-life experience will bring the film's main characters, Emmet and Wyldstyle, back together with their friends for another awesome adventure.

    • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex announced the addition of a new attraction, Heroes and Legends. Heroes and Legends will feature the U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame and showcase the heroism of America's early space pioneers by inviting guests to vicariously experience the thrills and dangers of America's earliest missions through high-tech elements and special effects, including simulated holograms and augmented reality.

    DoveCote in downtown Orlando is the next project for James Beard nominated chefs, James and Julie Petrakis, who also own Winter Park's Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons, set to open in spring. A twist on the Classic French brasserie, Chef Clayton Miller, a past winner of a "Best New Chef" award from Food & Wine magazine, who also worked under Thomas Keller at French Laundry, will oversee the kitchen.

    Cask & Larder at Orlando International Airport. Another expansion for the Petrakises, the airport outpost for the popular Winter Park restaurant that was named one of Esquire magazine's Best New Restaurants in America in 2014, will open in the summer. The first restaurant at the airport to specialize in seasonally driven cuisine and locally sourced ingredients.

     


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    12/08/2015

    Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month Sets All-New Record
    Raising $160,735 to Benefit Elevate Orlando

     

     ORLANDO, Fla. - With more than 75 restaurants participating, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month presented by American Express, raised a record $160,735 for ELEVATE Orlando. The donation is a 44 percent increase over the year prior and, since 2009, the program has raised more than $500,000 for local charities.

    "We are grateful to be in a position to make a significant donation to ELEVATE Orlando, an organization dedicated to providing both character education and life skills training to help move students from poverty to self-sufficiency," said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando.

    Now in its 10th year, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month takes place each September, offering locals and visitors alike the opportunity to enjoy Orlando's nationally recognized culinary scene through three-course prix-fixe dinners for $33. As the charitable beneficiary, ELEVATE Orlando received $1 from every meal served.

    "ELEVATE Orlando is extraordinarily grateful to the restaurants and thousands of diners who participated in this year's Magical Dining Month," said Jack McGill, president of ELEVATE Orlando. "The donation to our mission exceeded our wildest expectations and will make a massive difference as we expand our work in 2016." ELEVATE Orlando currently mentors more than 1,200 urban youth weekly at Evans and Oakridge High Schools. The funds raised by Magical Dining will enable ELEVATE to expand its programs into Jones High School. "Thank you for helping us equip thousands of urban youth in Central Florida to graduate with a plan for their future," added McGill.

    Additional information about Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, including a complete list of restaurants that participated, is available at www.OrlandoMagicalDining.com.

     

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    08/12/2015

     

    Orlando Ranked No. 1 Meeting Destination in the United States

    ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2015) - Cvent, the leader in cloud-based enterprise event management solutions, announced today that Orlando is the No. 1 destination for meetings and events in the United States for 2015. Cvent developed the ranking based on meeting and event booking activity in its national supplier network.

    "We are honored to be named the No. 1 meetings destination in the country by Cvent," said Visit Orlando President and CEO George Aguel. "This recognition is a testament to the investment we make in marketing and selling Orlando as the ideal location for meetings and conventions at all levels, a very important driver of local economic impact."

    Cvent evaluated nearly 5,600 U.S. cities featured on the Cvent Supplier Network to develop the list. Activity was tracked from July 2014 to June 2015, and the ranking was then determined by a set of qualifying criteria consisting of:

  •  Unique Request for Proposals Received
  • Total Room Nights
  • Awarded Request for Proposals
  • Awarded Room Nights
  • Percentage of Qualified Meeting Venues
  • Number of Profile Views
  • "Featuring more than 200,000 hotels and special event venues, the Cvent Supplier Network is one of the world's largest, most accurate databases of detailed venue information," added Aguel. "We are thrilled to see that meeting planners in the vast Cvent Supplier Network are finding many reasons to choose Orlando as the site for successful meetings and events, including flexible convention space, a wide range of accommodations, top-rated airports and convention center and sophisticated retail, dining and entertainment districts."

    About Visit Orlando
    Visit Orlando is the official tourism association for the most visited destination in the United States, with representation in more than a dozen countries around the world. Visit Orlando, together with its 1,200 member organizations; represent the area's leading industry.

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    Editor's Note: For additional press information in multiple languages or high-resolution
      downloadable images, please visit VisitOrlando.com/media.