I-Drive Live targets New Year’s Eve 2014 for opening date, will bring a trio of “global attraction brands” to Orlando’s busy tourist corridor

I-Drive Live targets New Year’s Eve 2014 for opening date, will bring a trio of “global attraction brands” to Orlando’s busy tourist corridor

In March of 2011, Merlin Entertainments – which owns and operates LEGOLAND Florida – announced that it was working to bring three of its best-known “global attraction brands” to the International Drive corridor, Orlando’s main tourist strip. The project would see delays (thanks to snags in the approval process from the county) and would even undergo a name change, switching out I-Walk Orlando for I-Drive Live. Now, however, construction is well underway, work is reportedly ahead of schedule, and the results already look extremely promising for Orlando’s newest entertainment complex.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

For starters, the new dining, shopping, and entertainment district will be one-third the size of the Mall at Millenia, the 11-year-old ritzy shopping mall that comprises over one million square feet. Slated to open in phases all across 2014, the area will house dozens of new venues, including the already up-and-running Kings Bowl Orlando, a 22-lane bowling alley and bar.

The centerpieces of I-Drive Live – Merlin’s trio of Sea Life Aquarium, Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and the massive Orlando Eye Ferris wheel – are tentatively scheduled to open on New Year’s Eve, 2014 (for those playing along at home, that’s more than a year after their last proposed opening date).

The Orlando Eye has easily been the focal point of the new complex. At 425 feet, it will be the tallest structure in central Florida and is just below the height of its sibling, the London Eye. It’ll include 30 gondolas that can hold 15 riders each, and one complete circuit will take approximately 20 minutes.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

Filling out the remainder of the area will be a bevy of restaurants, including Buffalo Wild Wings, Seafood Republic, Yard House, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, and Cowgirls, a country bar, which are all expected to be operational by next summer. And just in case that weren’t enough, a number of themed hotels – supposedly in keeping with the options and quality available at Las Vegas – and, even, a $1 million water show (fountains will shoot water 80 feet in the air!) at the complex’s entrance will be on hand. Other over-the-top, Vegas-style attractions are still in consideration, as well, though nothing more has been made official.

Local business owners hope that I-Drive Live will strengthen the International Drive tourist corridor as a third option for conventioneers or night-life seekers, after Universal CityWalk and Downtown Disney Disney Springs. While its success is not a guarantee, it’s nearly so as long as the new entertainment destination proves to enrich the amount and quality of the experiences that patrons flock to Orlando for. And with Universal’s Diagon Alley set to open next year — and Orlando’s overall visitor numbers breaking new records each of the last three years — International Drive will have plenty of guests looking to spend money.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

I-Drive Live concept artwork.

To see exactly where I-Drive Live is located, click here to open Google Maps.

If you’re curious to see what the scene looks like as of right now, check out the official live web cam.

Finally, as we mentioned above, King Bowl is already open — check out our review.

 

About the author

Marc N. Kleinhenz’s first dream in life was to be an astronaut. His second was an Imagineer. While neither completely worked out, he now writes books, flash fiction, and articles for 25 sites and counting (including IGN, The Escapist, and The Huffington Post). He’s co-created two podcasts and has even taught English in Japan. Imagineering school won’t be too far behind.
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19 comments
steviemeat
steviemeat

Can anyone tell me what thing will be open September October time as in on holiday then and last year when I was over I-drive had very little to do on it.

scrappygirl09
scrappygirl09

this is awesome...as a Floridian I know that I-drive is always live with people all around and this will bring more jobs. Orlando is always trying to step things up 

Jeff Kelly
Jeff Kelly

I like this and here is the but, there going to put a Sealife Aquarium no more then 10 mins from Seaworld. The Wheel and Madame Tussauds looks like a very good Idea but am not to sure on the Sealife centre. The ones we have in Great Britain are no way near as good as Seaworld.

Matthew Lynch
Matthew Lynch

Very clever of Merlin Entertainment they own 4 theme parks here in the UK. Plus Madame Tussauds and Sea Life. Very good idea to break in Orlando market putting Sea Life and Madame tussauds all in one handy location. Orlando eye is a brilliant idea!

Kyle Jonathan Chang
Kyle Jonathan Chang

Also the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opens as the final phase of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in 2014 as well !

Melissa McLaughlin
Melissa McLaughlin

I loved the wax museum in st Augustine as a kid and I love animals so I will definitely visit the aquarium.

Melissa McLaughlin
Melissa McLaughlin

Ben they aren't competing with the big 3. If wonderworks can make money so can these. Lots of tourists visit other attractions in.orlando besides the big 3. If you are only visiting the theme parks you are really missing out on other great places in this state.

Angela Buckley
Angela Buckley

Probably not planning to stad up to the big 3, but I drive is becoming the most popular area in orlando after the big D so I guess more attractions are needed, especially after the big rollercoaster park was scrapped

Ben Calderbank
Ben Calderbank

I have to say this looks destined to fail! If merlins sea life and wax works are the same standard of attraction we have in the UK there not gonna stand up to the quality of the big 3!!!

Angela Buckley
Angela Buckley

Ooooh owned by merlin hey? Does that mean cheaper or linked tickets to legoland

Carol Jakes
Carol Jakes

That looks great!! We will have to visit when we go!!

Lucy Batochio
Lucy Batochio

I hope they are all live for our vacation next November! We'll be there for 25 days, our biggest vacation ever and I want to ride the Orlando Eye.

Valerie Webster
Valerie Webster

this is great and exciting were going back in may of 2015 and staying at the Hard Rock Hotel.. now I can't wait..

OrlandoInformer.com
OrlandoInformer.com

Noeleen Sweeney Maher - We're not aware of any dates for specific attractions, just that they want the whole complex open by the end of next year. But given its size, surely some sections will open sooner than others (in fact, Kings Orlando is already open).

Noeleen Sweeney Maher
Noeleen Sweeney Maher

will it be open by the summer,seen it in august and they seem to have done a lot since then

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