The new decade heralds fresh growth for The Theme Park Capital of the World®, as Orlando’s evolution continues with an unprecedented theme park expansion, the world’s tallest slingshot ride, an acoustically perfect theater, a new celebrity chef restaurant and one of the largest booms for hotel growth in decades.
New Theme Park Thrills
Walt Disney World Resort
• “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance” opened in December and is the second attraction for the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
• The first-ever Mickey-themed ride-through attraction, “Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway,” will also open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios March 4, 2020.
• Epcot is undergoing one of the biggest transformations of any Disney park in history, bringing a host of new attractions and experiences in 2020, including:
o Three new films debuting Jan. 17: Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, Canada Far and Wide in Circle-Vision 360 and Awesome Planet.
o Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens in summer 2020, shrinking guests to the size of Chef Remy and racing them through Gusteau’s restaurant on a wild adventure.
o Epcot’s new nighttime spectacular HarmonioUS, the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.
o La Crêperie de Paris, a new restaurant located in the France pavilion at Epcot, debuting in summer 2020, offering both table and quick-service crepe options.
Universal Orlando Resort
• The Bourne Stuntacular, a cutting-edge live-action stunt show based on Universal Pictures’ blockbuster Bourne films, will debut in spring 2020 at Universal Studios Florida.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
• Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando, opening spring 2020, dives through four launches that run both backwards and forwards and takes riders on the steepest vertical drop in Florida.
• Riptide Race at Aquatica Orlando will be Florida’s first-ever dueling water slide, featuring side-by-side racing lanes through nearly 650 feet of slide.
New Entertainment Beyond the Parks
Outside the famous theme parks, Orlando now adds some of the world’s tallest thrill rides to one of the most acoustically perfect spaces on earth.
• Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, opening September 2020, will achieve an N1 sound rating—the lowest level at which humans can detect sound.
• ICON Park, located on International Drive and home to The Wheel and Starflyer attractions, will welcome two major thrill rides and a museum:
o The Orlando Slingshot will catapult guests 450 feet into the air and is set to the be the World’s Tallest Slingshot ride.
o The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower will reach 400 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower. Riders freefall at up to 75 miles per hour.
o The Museum of Illusions Orlando is set to open this summer, featuring optical, photographic, holographic and interactive illusions, perfect for selfies.
… and not forgetting
• The Orlando Science Center’s “Pompeii: The Immortal City,” runs June 6 – Sept. 7, 2020 and is one of only four U.S. sites for the interactive exhibit.
• “Drawn to Life,” a new Cirque du Soleil show, transports guests into the world of Disney’s animation in Cirque’s signature style, opening at Disney Springs on April 17.
• Wild Florida’s 75-acre drive-through safari park brings visitors nose-to-snout with giraffes, wild boars and other animals. The safari area includes a zipline over a grazing area.
• Two Orlando malls are set to undergo enhancements in 2020. Pointe Orlando will get a $32 million makeover by summer 2020 and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets will gain a reimagined food hall, enhanced Wi-Fi and other amenities by the end of 2020.
New Resorts and Hotels
Orlando has the second highest number of hotel rooms of anywhere in the U.S., and 2019 and 2020 will be the biggest two-year period for hotel expansion in Orlando in over two decades.
• JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opens in February with 516 rooms, a Spa by JW® and a rooftop terrace with nightly views of theme park fireworks.
• Universal Orlando Resort’s 2,050-room Dockside Inn and Suites opens March 17. This coastal-themed hotel is a value property, with rates starting at $76 per night.
From fresh local concepts to celebrity chef-driven dining, the diversity of Orlando’s food scene continues to impress.
• Knife & Spoon at The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, is a concept from Chef John Tesar, James Beard Award semifinalist and Top Chef contestant, opening spring 2020.
• Ole Red, a new restaurant by country superstar Blake Shelton, will open at ICON Park April 17 and merge southern hospitality, good food and live country music. Also coming to ICON Park this year is Ox Grill, offering contemporary fare with steaks, pasta and a selection of international dishes.
• Sixty Vines, a restaurant with Napa Valley-inspired seasonal cuisine, will open in spring 2020 in Winter Park and offer guests 60 varieties of wine on tap.
• Norman’s will be moving to Restaurant Row. Created by celebrity chef and James Beard Award winner Norman Van Aken, the concept will open in the Dellagio Plaza spring 2020.
• Kavas Tacos + Tequila at Pointe Orlando opens September 2020. The locally owned restaurant will feature Mexican comfort food, tequila flights and entertainment. Also opening at Pointe Orlando is The Hampton Social, themed after the New York coastal resort region.
• A.G.’s Market, a lakefront food hall opening late 2020, combines retail, beverage and food options with a second-floor seating area showcasing the theme park fireworks.