• Announcements

    • Taylor Strickland

      (IMPORTANT) What's next for our community   03/24/2016

      Today we're excited to announce the start of our new Facebook group: Universal Community by Orlando Informer. We're also announcing we're closing our forums. This is probably the hardest decision I've made so far with Orlando Informer. This week marks the 2nd anniversary of our forums. Monday will mark 2 years from when I first applied to work with Orlando Informer. I was entering a pool of over 50 applicants, didn't meet the requirements, and didn't think the odds were very high that I'd get the position of Forum Moderator. It never even crossed my mind that not only would I get the position, but that position and these forums would be the start of being able to do what I love as a fulltime job. At its core, our forums have always had two goals: A ) Help families receive specific answers to specific questions, feedback from folks who have been in their shoes, and help them maximize their investment into their vacation. B ) Build a community of people who love to visit Universal, with a foundation of respect and tolerance. I can speak for our entire team on our forums (both past and present), especially our Community Manager @Chuck Plagmann, when I say that we have devoted hours of time every day of the year working towards these two goals. We feel that we've made major strides towards both of our goals, but see the opportunity to help a significantly greater amount of people plan their vacation and add on to our established (and amazing) community. Unfortunately, as time goes on, forums like ours have a tendency to slow down and be replaced by social media. It's the cycle of life for forums. We believe that this Facebook group is the logical next step for our community. Our forums and the content within will remain browseable for the foreseeable future, however you will not be able to submit new content. Our Facebook group, Universal Community by Orlando Informer, will be curated by our same team that ran the OI Forums. @Chuck Plagmann and I will be on the group daily to provide insight and help families plan their vacation. @debi will be monitoring for any Special Needs questions. Our (very talented) authors, like @Marc N. Kleinhenz, will be on the group to talk about their latest articles and your feedback. Finally, @Park Beast will even be dropping by from time to time to talk about our weekly podcast. You can access our Facebook group by searching "Universal Community by Orlando Informer" or visiting UOR.community from any webbrowser. We know this is a substantial change from our forums, but are hopeful you'll be willing to give it a shot. Additionally, we're launching a Facebook group for Universal Hollywood: "Universal Community by California Informer" or visit USH.community. This is the end of the forums, but it is just the beginning of our community. One thing we consistently hear from members of our forums is how different our community is from some of the others found online. We are committed to maintaining this reputation in our Facebook group. I have met a countless number of people, many I call friends, from our OI Forums. I know real bonds (and even relationships) have resulted from the time spent on these forums. I'm looking forward to seeing these bonds develop and new ones form on our new outlet. Please know that this decision was not made lightly or without considering the amount of time many of you have spent on here. I fully believe this is the next step forward to growing our community and helping as many people as possible have the best trip to Universal. I'm looking forward to interacting with everyone for many years to come. As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with feedback -- taylor [at] orlandoinformer.com See you on the Facebook Group, Taylor P.S., Unlimited likes on Facebook, you can thank me in advance.
Dan Hatfield

I-Drive 360 and The Orlando Eye: news & updates

91 posts in this topic

Thanks to VisitOrlando.com for the information and media we're using to start this topic:

 

New Entertainment at I-Drive 360 Coming to Orlando in Spring 2015

 

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The newest entertainment complex to be added to Orlando's roster of exciting attractions along International Drive has officially unveiled the details of what's to come in spring 2015.

 

The project, officially named I-Drive 360, will be headlined by The Orlando Eye observations wheel, Madame Tussauds Orlando wax museum and Sea Life Orlando aquarium.

 

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Additional shops and restaurants will complement the complex beginning with the opening of Orlando's first Yard House on April 24 - with seating for 300 people inside and 80 on the patio and 140 beers on tap.

 

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Details were recently announced at a media event attended by community leaders. Visit Orlando Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Courtenay spoke to the project's significance and benefits to Orlando visitors, particularly convention groups at the nearby Orange County Convention Center.

 

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Madame Tussauds Orlando, the world's most famous celebrity wax attraction will showcase incredibly detailed and lifelike wax figures that pay tribute to influential celebrity and historical figures.

 

Sea Life Orlando will offer beautiful displays of colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more through winding tunnels, floor-to-ceiling tanks and bubble aquariums. Additionally, the aquarium, known for its strong conservation efforts, will have unique educational components for young marine life enthusiasts.

 

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The Orlando Eye, the cantilevered observation wheel will be the centerpiece of the complex. A sister icon to London's world-famous landmark, this attraction will provide views of Central Florida in all directions within fully enclosed, air-conditioned glass capsules with a 15 person capacity.

 

Adrian Jones of Merlin Entertainments explained during a tour of the site that views of Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando and Downtown Orlando can be seen during the 20 minute ride. Jones also stated that Cape Canaveral may be spotted on a clear day.

 

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We went eye to eye with The Orlando Eye during an aerial tour of the site courtesy of Air Force Fun Helicopter Tours. Watch our video for a sample of the views that will be seen 400 feet up aboard the observation wheel:

 

 

Vacation dreams come true for the whole family at our theme parks, water parks and resorts. Let Visit Orlando make planning your vacation even more fun. Request a free Orlando Vacation Planning Kit.

Agent J likes this

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A few notes:

 

This project was once called I-Drive Live. Then late last year it changed to Orlando Eye (the name of its main attraction became the name for the whole complex). Then last week it changed again to I-Drive 360.

 

It was originally slated to open by New Year's Eve 2014 - now they're saying spring 2015.

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A few more current details courtesy of the Orange County Government website:
 
Mayor Teresa Jacobs joins Merlin Entertainments in unveiling major expansion plans in Orlando
 
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Mayor Jacobs is joined by District 6 Commissioner Moore Russell, U.S. Vice President of Merlin Entertainments Adrian Jones, Visit Florida Chief Marketing Officer Paul Phipps, Unicorp President Chuck Whittall, and Visit Orlando Chief Marketing Officer Danielle Courtenay.

 

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs recently provided the opening remarks at a media event hosted by Merlin Entertainments Group Plc. The event provided an early look at the $200 million project now under construction on International Drive.

 

Merlin Entertainments also announced the official project name, I-Drive 360, and its targeted opening date of spring 2015. I-Drive 360 will be home to three headlining attractions—the Orlando Eye observation wheel, Madame Tussauds Orlando Wax Museum and the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium.

 

“This is another great day for Central Florida. In addition to the incredible economic and job creation impact of I-Drive 360, this new entertainment complex will provide visitors and residents alike with world-class entertainment and dining amenities,” said Mayor Jacobs. “The presence of this project will help Orlando maintain its status as a premier global destination.”

 

I-Drive 360 is being developed by Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments Inc. and New York-based Circle Entertainment Inc. The project will feature several attractions, shops and eateries, including Central Florida’s first Yard House, which opens on April 24. Other I-Drive 360 details include:

  • The Orlando Eye, constructed by a Swiss company, will be the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast and will be the centerpiece of the I-Drive 360 complex. At 425 feet, guests will ride in air conditioned capsules as they slowly make their way around the wheel. The wheel assembly is slated to begin in June. According to Unicorp President Chuck Whittall, the project could be ready for a grand opening in March 2015.
  • I-Drive 360 will afford the corridor with a new venue for large, open-air events. Corporations looking to have post-convention gatherings will have an opportunity to host parties with the three attractions as a backdrop.
  • A Merlin Entertainments annual pass will not only provide access to the three I-Drive 360 attractions, but also to the LEGOLAND Florida parks. Additionally, a shuttle that currently takes guests from the Orlando Premium Outlets-International Drive will later move to the I-Drive 360 site behind the Orlando Eye, offering guests in the convention area an opportunity to add that experience to their trip.

Photos from the media event are available for use by the media and are located on Flickr.

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I am so excited about this. There's be a void on I-Drive for years and years and years, at least in my mind, ever since my beloved Mercado closed (which was when I was just a little kid), but that whole section of I-Drive not having anything on it just interrupted the flow and energy of I-Drive. I am so excited!!!!

snidey and Gizmo2000 like this

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I totally agree about the void and it is going to be fantastic when it is all finished and up and running. When we were over in March it was really taking shape. We'll be over again in December but it won't be all done by then but it won't be too far off but hopefully when we arrive July 2015 it will all be open.

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There's be a void on I-Drive for years and years and years, at least in my mind, ever since my beloved Mercado closed (which was when I was just a little kid)

When did the Mercado close? I know its been gone quite a while, I recall going a few times in my early trips to Orlando but can't recall last time... possibly 2005 when it appeared very empty?

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Yeah it started to close up in 2005 and in 2006 it was pretty much done for, but it really started to change and not be what it once was in the late 1990's in my opinion. It opened when I was in elementary school so I of course have a much different recollection, a romanticized memory of it.

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Any idea if much/anything will b added by sept time???

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Looks great.  I was really shocked to see the decline in I-Drive.  My first visit to Orlando was in 2003 and didnt go back till 2012 I couldn't believe how many places had shut down!  Ive got a photo taken somewhere on I-Drive with my foot in a huge big shoe - would that have been at the Mercado?

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Tin Roof Brings its "Live Music Joint" Concept to Orlando

 
Tin Roof selects I-Drive 360 for its first Florida location
 
ORLANDO, Fla. (October 24, 2014) - I-Drive 360 is about to get a little louder, a little rowdier and a lot more fun with the arrival of Tin Roof, a "live music joint" where people can hang out, enjoy some great food and listen to live music almost every night of the week.
 

Headquartered in Nashville, the first Tin Roof opened in 2002 near Nashville's famous Music Row. It quickly became a favorite for both performers and music fans. The parent company, Tin Roof Acquisitions, expanded the concept to other cities. Orlando will be the company's 14th location.

 
"We think Orlando is a perfect fit for Tin Roof, for both tourists and locals," said William Hodges, Tin Roof Regional Manager. "I-Drive 360 visitors can grab some food or listen to some great music before or after they visit some of the other new attractions there."
 
The new Tin Roof - just steps from the Orlando Eye - is expected to open in December.
 
The Music
 
Tin Roof puts a premium on booking top local and regional bands. Music fans will typically find bands playing from 10 pm - 2 am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with acoustic sets during the week. Types of music will range from rock to alternative to country.
 
"We'll be bringing in all types of bands and singers, and even some national acts for special events," said Hodges. "We also put a premium on being a place where local bands and musicians can find a home and showcase their talents."
 
Tin Roof will not be a ticketed venue, but cover charges will apply at certain times.
 
 
The Menu
 
Tin Roof will be open for lunch and dinner - but the food goes way beyond the typical bar fare. Guests can choose from a variety of gourmet grub, including these favorites:
 
Hot Chicken Torta - this Mexican-style sandwich features buttermilk fried chicken, served with pickles and potato salad.

Big Farmer Dave's Quesadilla - filled with sausage, zucchini, pecan-herb pesto and cheese.
 
Kentuckyaki Wings - wings like you've never had them; the sauce includes bourbon, soy, sorghum, garlic and ginger.
 
"We can't wait to open our doors and give people a place to unwind after a day at work or hitting the theme parks," said Hodges. "We'll be the place to hear the best live music in town."
 
 

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FLESH EATING Beetles are coming to Orlando! 

 

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Flesh Eating beetles, also known as Dermestid Beetles are part of the experience at a new attraction coming to International Drive in Orlando called SKELETONS: Animals Unveiled. Opening March 7, 2015, this museum/attraction will have over 300 real skeletons and skulls representing 300 different animal species, including humans. The beetles are used to clean the bones of all flesh and non-bone material.

 

As part of the I-Drive 360 Complex that will include the the Orlando Eye Wheel, Madame Tussand’s Wax Museum and Sea Life Aquarium, SKELETONS will offer its guests an education in bones, skeletons, structure and anatomy. Plus adding “Fun” elements such as, the “flesh-eating” beetles, video presentations, an”As Seen On TV” area, and an area of extinct and imaginary animals. 

 

Skeletons: Animals Unveiled is owned and operated by the Villemarette Family of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Company president, Jay Villemarette, Sr began collecting skulls as a youth and grew his hobby into a successful, worldwide catalog/website business called Skulls Unlimited International, Inc. In 2010, he, his wife and four children opened The Museum Of Osteology in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is the only museum of osteology (the study of bones and skeletons) in the world. Villemarette and his family do the work to transform donated animal carcasses into skeletons.

 

“We use real bones, all of them we prepared ourselves. Sometimes we need to use replicas, but there is so much more you can learn from real bones,” said Villemarette regarding that his museum and upcoming attraction will be filled with actual bone specimens. “The beetles remove all the flesh and tendons that we can’t get. We have tens of thousands of beetles working for us.”

 

Villemarette, his family and his businesses have been highlighted in such television programs as “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”, “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”, “Modern Marvels”, “Auction Kings” and in the film “Skeletons, Inc”. Highlights from the episodes will be part of the Skeletons attraction.  

 

“Orlando, with all of its guests and families were the people we wanted to reach with our attraction. This opportunity came up and we couldn’t pass it up,” stated Villemarette. “So we are excited about coming to town with our skeletons, bones, and beetles.” 

 

Skeletons is located at 8441 International Drive, Suite 250, Orlando, Florida. Hours will be 10 am to Midnight seven days a week. The 7,700 square foot attraction is expected to open on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Adult admission is $19.99, and Youth (3-11) is $12.99. Additional information at www.skeletonmuseum.com or call 407-766-5179. A 60 second video of the beetles at work is available upon request. 

 

Dermestid beetles are harmless to living humans and pets. They are naturally found in Florida. All of Skeletons’ dermestid beetles will be in escape proof containers.

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FLESH EATING Beetles are coming to Orlando! 

 

Flesh Eating beetles, also known as Dermestid Beetles are part of the experience at a new attraction coming to International Drive in Orlando called SKELETONS: Animals Unveiled. Opening March 7, 2015, this museum/attraction will have over 300 real skeletons and skulls representing 300 different animal species, including humans. The beetles are used to clean the bones of all flesh and non-bone material.

 

I thought this was the most bizarre thing to put in I-Drive 360. Don't know how long this will last.

Bern likes this

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Looking forward to Madame Tussauds. Love a good wax museum, as long as it's not rum by Vincent Price  :o.

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Orlando, Fla. (Nov. 13, 2014) – This week, The Orlando Eye provided a sneak preview of the brand new passenger capsules that will eventually be installed onto the observation wheel, once construction on the outer wheel is completed later this year. Each glass capsule weighs approximately three metric tons (6,600 pounds), or the average weight of an Indian elephant or a baby blue whale. The first set of the glass capsules arrived on the site earlier this month.

The capsules made a transatlantic journey from Northern Germany. The glass covering the capsules was crafted in Turkey, and then each of them was assembled in Hungary.
 
The installation process is unique to the Orlando Eye, as each capsule will be attached to the wheel by a shaft and hangar attached to the top of the capsule, making it a first for an observation wheel that uses the ski lift capsule design featured on the Eye. This system will keep the floor of the capsule level to allow guests to walk around for optimal viewing.
 
Day or night, whenever guests begin their journey on the Orlando Eye, they will be effortlessly lifted away in a bubble of calm and serenity to enjoy the 360-degree views above the hustle and bustle of the city below. Every capsule will offer guests the comfort of air-conditioning, a bench seat, lighting and audio effects for the 20-minute flight experience.
 
“Construction on the Eye is moving at great speed, and once the outer wheel has been completed, it will be exciting to see the installation process of the capsules,” said Orlando Eye General Manager Robin Goodchild. “Approaching that milestone signifies just how close we are getting to our spring 2015 grand opening.”
 
All in all, there will be 30 capsules installed, which means that up to 450 people can experience the incredible 360-degree views at one time.
 
Located at the I-Drive 360 entertainment and dining complex, the Orlando Eye will be anchored byMadame Tussauds Orlando, the celebrity wax attraction, and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, the immersive underwater experience, rounding out three of the top global brands in Merlin Entertainments’ portfolio of exciting new attractions.
 
Fun facts:
  • Each capsule weights three metric tons (6,600 pounds) or as much as an Indian elephant
  • All 30 capsules will have seating, air-conditioning, lighting and audio effects to enhance the guest experience
  • Up to 450 guests can take in the 360-degree views at one time on the Eye, which include nearby theme parks, attractions, lakes, lush landscape, downtown Orlando and much more
  • Once the structure is complete, the Orlando Eye will be 400 feet tall and weigh approximately three million pounds, making it the tallest observation wheel on the U.S. East Coast
  • Each capsule has 10 panes of glass, weighing almost 1,300 pounds
Located in the heart of International Drive, the 400-foot Orlando Eye is the tallest observation wheel on the U.S. eastern coast, offering a new way to experience the breathtaking views of Central Florida.
 
Poised to become a top visitor attraction for the tourism capital of the U.S., the Orlando Eye, part of the I-Drive 360 entertainment and dining complex, will showcase 360-degree views of Central Florida, including nearby theme parks and attractions, downtown Orlando and Kennedy Space Center on Florida’s east coast, all within the comfort of 30 air-conditioned glass capsules. Each capsule has room for up to 15 guests to enjoy a serene 20-minute journey above the scenic landscape.
 
Included in the Orlando Eye journey is access to the pre-flight 4D cinema experience, taking guests on a full 3D aerial journey of Florida, with the added dimension of sensory experiences, including lighting, wind, spray and scent effects.
 
The Orlando Eye opens in spring 2015. Visit OfficialOrlandoEye.com for more information.

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Merlin Entertainments Group Unveils Towering LEGO® Model of Central Florida Expansion

 

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ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov.19, 2014) – Merlin Entertainments Group, the second largest attractions operator in the world, is expanding rapidly in Central Florida. Today, at IAAPA Attractions Expo, the company revealed a LEGO® model that spans more than 9-feet across and is nearly 8-feet tall, showcasing three iconic brands coming to Orlando: The Orlando Eye®, Madame Tussauds® Orlando and SEA LIFE® Orlando Aquarium. The model will be installed inside LEGOLAND® Florida Resort’s Miniland U.S.A attraction. “This is the first 3D visual representation of the complex,” said Head of Marketing for The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando and SEA LIFE Orlando Todd Andrus. “We are excited to unveil this expansive and comprehensive LEGO model as we move toward opening in spring 2015.”

Poised to become Orlando's newest icon, the 400-foot Orlando Eye observational wheel provides a new way to experience Central Florida. Day or night, guests are lifted away in a bubble of serenity above the hustle and bustle of International Drive to take in the stunning views of Central Florida. SEA LIFE Aquarium offers a new wave of immersive underwater experiences with colorful fish, rays, sharks and other creatures in floor to ceiling displays, bubble tanks, touch pools and a 360-degree underwater tunnel. Known for its strong conservation efforts, SEA LIFE also offers educational components for marine life enthusiasts. Madame Tussauds Orlando is rolling out the red carpet for celebrities from film, television, sports, history, pop culture and more with its incredibly detailed and lifelike wax figures, providing a new experience that's family fun with a celebrity twist!

Just in time for summer 2015, LEGOLAND Hotel will open just footsteps from the gates to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, which includes a family theme park and water park. “The five-story, 152 room hotel immerses guests in the creative LEGO world as it brings children’s imaginations to life,” said LEGOLAND Florida Resort General Manager Adrian Jones. “The addition of the hotel provides guests the opportunity to extend their stay and explore LEGOLAND Florida Resort for more than one day giving them the ultimate family experience.”

LEGOLAND Hotel bookings are now available through January 2016 at www.LEGOLANDHotel.com.

Chuck Plagmann likes this

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Workers install the 360 degree ocean tunnel for the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, the brand new underwater aquarium opening at I-Drive 360 next spring. The acrylic tunnel weighs almost 18,000 pounds, or as much as five cars, and will provide a new immersive way for guests to view marine life in their own habitats. SEA LIFE will also feature a 180 degree tunnel, floor to ceiling displays, bubble aquariums, and touch pools featuring more than 5,000 sea creatures from the oceans of the world.

 

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Dan_Mol, Erika, MattLynch91 and 1 other like this

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Looks brilliant! Hoping it's as good as the Sea Life in London.

I hope that Merlin Entertainment do a triple ticket for Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Orlando Eye. It would be a really great, full day out!

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I know I won't get Mrs BB thw Eye unfortunately. The waxworks wil probably be full of people I don't know. Ha ha. The aquarium could be really good though. The London one is good as Matt said. Weirdly, my favorite fish was the simple brown trout. It just swam there motionless in running water with just a few flicks of its tail and fins.

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