by Lisa A. Grimaldi | April 09, 2019

A magical blend of world-famous attractions, resorts, dining, shopping and year-round warm weather make Orlando and central Florida a favorite meeting destination for groups of all ages. The destination only continues to enhance its appeal with an expanding convention center, a growing airport, new and refreshed accommodations, and an ever-burgeoning roster of fresh attractions.

Updates in Orlando

Convention Center/Airport Expansion

The Orange County Convention Center is expanding its 7 million-square-foot campus with a $605 million project. Among the additions will be new meeting and exhibit space for the North and South concourses. An enclosed Convention Way Grand Concourse will be built to connect the North and South buildings, and will feature an 80,000-square-foot ballroom.

A new 200,000-square-foot, column-free multipurpose venue will provide seating for 18,000 to 20,000 people. The OCCC welcomes more than 200 conventions and events each year for 1.4 million attendees. In the past five years, walkability has been enhanced throughout the facility and its surrounding district. Five pedestrian skybridges now connect more than 5,200 guest rooms to the convention center. 

Orlando International Airport is adding a new south terminal with 19 gates to help handle the more than 150 daily nonstop flights from cities around the world. The facility is scheduled to debut in 2021. 

Orlando's Hotel Update
Margartiaville Resort Orlando

Opening this spring is the 184-room Margaritaville Resort Orlando. The 300-acre property will feature a wide range of amenities.

Margaritaville Orlando Amenities
  • 30,000 square feet of meeting and event space
  • Approximately 200,000 square feet of retail space 
  • A dining and entertainment district 
  • A 12-acre waterpark 
  • A wellness center
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort

The 516-room JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort will be unveiled during the first quarter of 2020 at Bonnet Creek, a 482-acre mixed-use resort community near the city's famed theme parks. Eighty guest accommodations will be suites, including 16 two-bedroom units with optional connections to create four-bedroom family suites. A 23,000-square-foot ballroom will be part of the hotel's 50,000 square feet of meeting space.

Among other JW Marriott Bonnet Creek amenities will be:

  • An indoor/outdoor restaurant
  • A rooftop bar that will provide panoramic views of local evening fireworks
  • Two pools
  • A spa with 10 treatment rooms
  • A fitness center
  • An amenity deck where guests can play tennis, basketball and shuffleboard
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is expanding its meeting space by about 32,000 square feet. When the new areas debut in 2020, the resort will offer a total of 102,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space comprising two ballrooms, exhibit space, event space, 45 meeting rooms and outdoor venues suitable for groups of up to 1,000.

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

The Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee is undergoing a $150 million expansion. The project will add 303 guest rooms to the resort's current 1,416-room inventory and 90,000 square feet of meeting and event space, which will give the property a total of 490,000 square feet of event space. When the dust settles, there will be an extra 30,000-square-foot ballroom, 30,000 square feet of conference space and approximately 30,000 square feet of event space. The work extends outside, as well: The property's resort pool complex is getting a lazy-river feature and a new events lawn. Construction on all of these enhancements is expected to begin this spring, to be completed by spring 2021.

Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

Beginning in 2020, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek will transition into Hilton's all-new Signia meetings-and-events-focused brand, becoming the Signia Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The change will include state-of-the-art hotel upgrades in tune with the needs of meetings and business travelers.  

Walt Disney World Resort Updates
  • The 2,267-room Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, which recently completed a three-year, $150 million renovation, is getting even bigger, adding a new 349-room, 14-story tower. The structure, to go up next to the Swan Resort, is slated to debut in fall 2020. Group-friendly offerings will include more than 22,000 square feet of meeting space, made up of two ballrooms, 12 meeting rooms and a rooftop reception space that will provide views of the nightly Walt Disney World fireworks. Once the tower opens, the resort will feature a total of more than 2,600 guest rooms and 350,000 square feet of function space. The new guest-room inventory will offer 151 suites with built-in audiovisual systems and large conference tables. A landscaped 16,800-square-foot elevated deck with a fire pit and pool also is part of the plan, as is a 90-seat restaurant and a 50-seat lounge. Guests will have access to a health club, a business center, a grab-and-go market and an upscale craft-cocktail lobby bar.
  • A 28,000-square-foot expansion of the convention center has been completed at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort. The new space includes a 16,000-square-foot ballroom that can be divided into eight breakout rooms, as well as three prefunction areas and two rotundas designed to promote networking.
  • The 1,910-room Disney's Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World Resort is adding 545 guest rooms and expanding its meeting and event spaces. As part of the project, a 15-story tower is now under construction and eventually will house a rooftop restaurant and lounge with panoramic views. On the events front, two multipurpose breakout rooms and a boardroom will be added to the resort, which currently has 220,000 square feet of meeting space. The property also plans to upgrade its guest rooms and grounds, while adding floating gardens and an island oasis that will be connected by a series of scenic bridges to surrounding areas.
  • Two new properties are under construction at Walt Disney World: Disney Lakeside Lodge, a 900-room, nature-inspired resort, and Disney's Riviera Resort, whose design has been "inspired by the European grandeur Walt Disney experienced in his travels along the Mediterranean coastline." Opening dates for the two hotels, as well as meeting space and amenity details, have yet to be announced.
MidPointe Hotel

The MidPointe Hotel has expanded by absorbing the adjacent Rosen-owned Clarion Inn International, and now offers a total of 356 guest rooms and more than 1,000 square feet of meeting space. The MidPointe is alongside the 1,334-room Rosen Centre, connected to the Orange County Convention Center by an overhead pedestrian skybridge.

AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando

Having recently completed refurbishments of its 1,501 luxurious guest rooms and suites, the AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek Orlando is now finishing up an enhancement of its 490,000 square feet of indoor meeting space.

Universal Studios Orlando Resort Updates
  • At Universal Orlando Resort, the Aventura Hotel has debuted with 600 guest rooms and a rooftop pool. Also on-site are a lobby bar, the rooftop Bar 17 Bistro, a game room and a "food hall" with multiple dining options.
  • Universal continues to expand its accommodations with the 2,025-room Endless Summer Resort from Loews Hotels, a complex that will be made up of two properties: the Surfside Inn and Suites, which will debut this summer, and the Dockside Inn and Suites, opening in 2020.
Orlando Attractions Action
Universal Studios

Fast & Furious-Supercharged, based on the Fast and Furious racing-film franchise, zoomed into Universal Studios Florida in 2018. The ride takes guests on a rollicking journey through the underground headquarters of the Fast family, accompanied by music and scenes from the movies. The attraction also simulates a high-speed race on a tricked-out party bus, and the films' classic characters "visit" with guests.

Walt Disney World

Two beloved franchises in the Disney family - Toy Story and Star Wars - began to take center stage at Walt Disney World Resort in 2018. Toy Story Land, the 11-acre park at Disney's Hollywood Studios, is populated with favorite characters (Jessie, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, platoons of those loyal toy soldiers) and depicts familiar scenes (e.g., Andy's backyard) from the popular Disney Pixar films. Highlights include the Alien Swirling Saucers ride, the adorable Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster and a kid-friendly dining outlet.

The highly anticipated Star Wars-themed land is scheduled to open at Disney's Hollywood Studios, complete with its own resort, this fall. 

SeaWorld Orlando

Infinity Falls, a new attraction that aims to bring the thrill of white-water rafting into a family-friendly experience, is now soaking visitors at SeaWorld Orlando. Featuring a 40-foot waterfall drop, the ride is billed as the tallest drop on a river-raft attraction. Infinity Falls is the centerpiece of a newly themed area designed to resemble the base camp of an expedition for explorers and scientists.

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