Orlando Welcomes Box Office Hits and Big Thrills as
New Attractions Premiere this Summer
ORLANDO, Fla. - From the colossal return of King Kong, to a "Galaxy Far, Far Away" coming closer than ever, to the launch of the tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster -- Orlando's newest attractions are bigger, bolder and better-than-ever. The theme park capital of the world introduces must-see additions for visitors to create unforgettable summer vacations. Visitors this summer can save an additional 5% on already discounted attraction tickets at VisitOrlando.com/tickets with the New For Summer promo code: NFS2016. Offer available until June 15, 2016.
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
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 massive off-road vehicles and explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives and fending off unspeakable terrors.
A new tropical oasis will welcome guests at Universal Orlando Resort: the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. The new property is the fifth onsite hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, featuring 1,000 rooms and suites with an old-world Caribbean theme, built around a 16,000 square foot, resort-style pool and towering waterfall. Rooms will be available for booking starting July 14.
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT
Epcot guests can cool off in the kingdom of Arendelle when the highly-anticipated attraction "Frozen Ever After" opens in the Norway Pavilion. The family adventure set in 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.
A new flight path will open for the popular attraction "Soarin'" at Epcot this summer. The updated version of the ride, called "Soarin' Around the World," includes a whole new film, taking guests on a journey to far-flung lands, and accommodating more guests with the addition of an extra theatre.
Guests will discover new entertainment around every corner this summer with the debut of four new shows across the parks. The Force has awakened at Hollywood Studios, including a new character-filled stage show already open, "Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away," and the upcoming nightly "Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular," combining fireworks, pyrotechnics, special effects and video projections to be the most elaborate fireworks display to take place in the history of the park. Animal Kingdom will feature a new night time show starting at the end of May, "The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic" Show, inspired by the live-action film. Meanwhile, Mickey Mouse and his friends will welcome favorite characters from some of Disney's newest classics in the live stage show "Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire," debuting in June at the Magic Kingdom.
Thrill-seekers have a new challenge coming on June 10: "Mako," a brand new 200-foot-tall coaster. 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. The hypercoaster will be the centrepiece 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.
LEGOLAND FLORIDA RESORT
As Central Florida heats up, guests can cool off at the new Creative Cove at LEGOLAND Water Park. Now open, the new area invites young visitors to build and race their own LEGO boats.
Premiering this May, a new 4D movie is coming to LEGOLAND: "LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS 4D: The Book of Creativity." Characters from the popular LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS series battle forces of evil in this new immersive experience, combining 3D computer animation with "4D," real-world effects that bring the high-tech action bursting off the screen and into the audience.
A colorful summer is in store for visitors of Crayola Experience, with the opening of Rockin' Paper, an all-new attraction that will bring personalized paper creations to life. Guests will start by decorating paper creatures, then watch as they come alive and rock out in a show all of their own, complete with lights and music. Each new set of paper stars will dance to a different song, for a new experience every time.
Find more information, including exclusive insider tips, opening dates as they are released and the latest news on Orlando's summer happenings at VisitOrlando.com/blog.
Orlando recibió 66 millones de TURISTAS en 2015
Duplicó el número de visitantes en las últimas dos décadas
Orlando, Florida, (2 de mayo de 2016) - Visit Orlando anunció un nuevo récord histórico para el destino. En 2015, 66.1 millones de personas visitaron Orlando, lo que correspondió a un crecimiento de 5.5 por ciento con respecto a 2014 y consolidó la posición de Orlando como el destino más visitado de Estados Unidos. El número de visitantes a Orlando se ha más que duplicado en los últimos 20 años, superando por mucho los 32.4 millones de turistas en 1995.
"Llegar a más de 66 millones de visitantes a Orlando es un logro increíble para la comunidad del turismo", comentó George Aguel, Presidente y CEO de Visit Orlando. "Este nuevo hito y el rápido crecimiento en las últimas dos décadas es el resultado de tener una industria de turismo así como socios de la comunidad que se enfocan en el crecimiento y la inversión, además de una dedicación a las necesidades de nuestros visitantes, así como la suma de esfuerzos globales de mercadotecnia y de ventas de nuestro equipo de Visit Orlando y nuestros socios estratégicos".
Un récord de 33 millones de noches de habitaciones se vendieron en Orlando en 2015, lo que resultó en una recaudación de impuestos para el desarrollo turístico que superó los $230 millones en el Condado de Orange, Florida., hogar del distrito turístico de la Florida Central.
"Estamos muy orgullosos de romper otro récord nacional y de ser nombrados una vez más el destino turístico número uno en Estados Unidos" dijo la alcalde del condado de Orange, Teresa Jacobs. "Con nuestro magnífico centro de convenciones y cultura de la hospitalidad, nuestros parques temáticos de primera clase, así como con nuestra diversa oferta de entretenimiento para las familias, numerosos restaurantes de lujo y amplios servicios hoteleros, no es sorprendente que la Florida Central siga siendo el principal destino para viajes familiares, de ocio e incluso, de negocios."
Visit Orlando anunció este logro sin precedentes en su almuerzo anual de Viajes y Turismo, una celebración de la comunidad de turismo de Orlando, a la cual asistieron más de 800 líderes de la industria y de la comunidad. El evento se realizó durante la edición número 33 de la semana Nacional de Viajes y Turismo, la cual une cada año a la industria para celebrar lo que el turismo representa en cuestión de empleos, crecimiento económico y bienestar personal.
"Orlando logró otro record histórico con más de 66 millones de visitantes en 2015 -un logro para Orlando y para la industria turística de Estados Unidos", dijo Roger Dow, Presidente y Director General de la Asociación de Turismo de Estados Unidos. "El destacable compromiso de la región con los viajes y el turismo -con mención especial para Visit Orlando, sus miembros, y el liderazgo de funcionarios públicos locales- permitió que se alcanzara otro record de visitas", añadió.
Desde 1995, la oferta de hoteles en Orlando creció de más de 37%, con un total de 117 mil habitaciones en 2015. El número de pasajeros en el aeropuerto internacional de Orlando aumentó en más de 72%, llegando a 38'809,337 en 2015. En las últimas dos décadas, las ampliaciones y aperturas significativas han reafirmado a Orlando como capital mundial de los parques temáticos además de ser un destacado destino para el turismo de convenciones. Además, Orlando estableció también un amplio abanico de ofertas para satisfacer las necesidades de los viajeros que buscan a la vez comodidad y servicios de lujo. A la par de ello, Dowtown Orlando vivió un renacimiento con nuevos espacios de artes y deportes. Además, el destino se ha posicionado como un destino culinario próspero, obteniendo constantes nominaciones de los James Beard Award para chefs locales, además de atraer también a chefs internacionalmente reconocidos con nuevos conceptos culinarios.
Acerca de VISIT ORLANDO
Visit Orlando es la organización oficial de turismo para el destino más visitado de los Estados Unidos, con representación en más de una docena de países alrededor del mundo. Visit Orlando, junto con mil doscientos organismos miembros, es el líder en esta industria.
• 华特迪士尼世界将完成多年的转型，从原先的Downtown Disney 转变为Disney Springs。新的餐饮娱乐区将融合先前的元素以及其他值得注意的品牌，并且将扩建为原先的两倍，有超过150家店等待游客来探索。以下是已经宣布入驻的餐厅：
• The Edison, 类似于其洛杉矶的姐妹店，是2016年将在Disney Springs开业的第三家新店。店的主题风格将围绕1920s电音风格，将有丰富的表演娱乐，经典的美式食物和手调鸡尾酒。工业哥特场地将有一个35-英尺高的天花板和数个主题区域。
• Frontera Fresca2016年也将在Disney Springs开业, 这是名人大厨 Rick Bayless的新店, 曾6次获得James Beard基金. 他成名于拿手的墨西哥菜肴, Bayless的菜单包括其特色，手制的蛋糕、tacos、沙拉、新鲜制作的牛油果沙拉酱和经典墨西哥炖肉。所有的手制都是他精心研究的成果。当然，还有很棒的玛格丽特加鸡尾酒，啤酒和红酒。
• Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine是2016年夏季明星厨师Art Smith即将在Disney Springs开业的新店。 James Beard 基金的获得者在佛州的Jasper小镇土生土长，经过25年的精心准备，以其得奖的菜肴一举征服了名人和州长的味蕾，频繁出现在电视荧幕上。这家质朴和时髦感并存的餐厅将专攻南方经典菜肴和异想天开的特制鸡尾酒。
• STK计划在2016年初开业, 是一家高档的牛排馆，它将摩登牛排馆和时髦休息室这两个理念巧妙融合。有现场DJ，热烈的气氛，吸引客人充分融入他们的环境中。
• 奥兰多环球影城宣布夏季一个全新的刺激项目将在冒险岛园区开放"Skull Island: Reign of Kong"将重现电影史上丰碑式的形象之一-金刚。游客们将乘上大卡车，探索古代神庙建筑，随时都可能遇上一些充满敌意的生物，经历难以言喻的恐惧。
• 奥兰多环球影城和洛伊斯酒店度假村集团宣布建造Loews Sapphire Falls Resort。这将是奥兰多环球影城的第五家园区酒店，有1000多间客房，还有加勒比主题的套房，周围将建有泻湖和高耸的瀑布。酒店计划于夏季开业。
• 艾波卡特的游客将能参观艾伦戴尔王国，大受好评的"Frozen Ever After"就在挪威馆。这个亲子设施很欢迎游客们前往冰雪奇缘中的魔法世界，还可以见到故事中皇室两姐妹，主打歌和全新的冰雪成像技术。一旦登船，游客就可以在夏日庆典中参观冬天的艾伦戴尔王国。
• Soarin' Around the World的客人登上受欢迎的Soarin，从艾波卡特启航，开始一段前往偏僻小岛的旅程，俯视就能看到世界上最独特的自然风景和人工奇迹。
• Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris,迪士尼动物王国深受欢迎的乞力马扎罗巡航将开启全新的夜间探险模式。游客们将穿梭在热带草原，伴随着橙色的落日，探索两个新项目：African wild dogs和 hyenas。
• "Rivers of Light"是一个创新的经验，之前从未在任何一个迪士尼里见过,结合现场表演,浮动的灯笼,水屏幕和旋转动物意象，神奇的"光的河流"在发现河上显得栩栩如生,让客人真正地从一整天动物王国的冒险里放松下来。
• "The LEGO® MovieTM 4D A New Adventure" 1月29日在乐高乐园首映。新4 d动画电影沿用了乐高®电影TM中受欢迎的人物，使用如风水、烟等元素，还有特殊的灯光效果。通过传奇色彩的体验，将电影的主要人物埃米特和Wyldstyle以及他们的朋友一起带进另一段可怕的冒险。
• 肯尼迪航天中心宣布即将建设新设施Heroes and Legends。这将以美国宇航员名人堂为主题，通过高科技元素和特殊的效果，包括模拟全息图和增强实感，邀请游客体验早期执行太空任务时的恐惧和危险感，展现先驱的英雄主义。
• DoveCote在奥兰多市中心，是大厨 James and Julie Petrakis的下一个计划，他们也是Winter Park的 Ravenous Pig还有Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons的主人，新店计划于2016年春开业。大厨Clayton Miller, 曾获《美食与美酒》杂志的"最佳新厨师"奖项。他曾与Thomas Keller 共事，将监管厨房。
• Cask & Larder位于奥兰多国际机场内，将于夏季开业。是Petrakises的另一个扩展，后者被Esquire杂志评为2014年美国最佳餐厅。第一家机场内的餐馆将专门按季节供应菜肴且使用当地的原材料。
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.
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:
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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.
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:
ORLANDO'S MUST-DO ACTIVITIES THIS SPRING
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Orlando Plans for Another Banner Year
with Expansions and Openings in 2016
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.