ITTN’s Shane Cullen reports from Florida Huddle. This feature focuses on the much-loved destination of Orlando, Florida. It is home to world-class theme parks and MICHELIN Starred restaurants. This year it has a host of new attractions and experiences for travellers. It is easy to see why its popularity is booming. Add new transport links and a shiny expanded airport – it really is new and improved!
What’s New in 2023 and Beyond with Visit Orlando
ITTN interviewed Phil White (Visit Orlando) who shared a summary of what’s new in 2023 and beyond in Florida’s city of Orlando.
Theme Park Thrills & Family Fun
Walt Disney World has a new speed coaster. TRON Lightcycle is expected to open at Magic Kingdom Park on 4th April 2023. Based on TRON: Legacy, this will be one of the fastest rollercoasters at any Disney theme park in the world. Passengers will get to race their very own Lightcycle. Later in the year, EPCOT will see the opening of an all-ages ride, Journey of Water, inspired by the Disney movie Moana.
Seaworld Orlando debuts its 7th roller coaster, The Surf Coaster, this spring. In addition, LEGOLAND has just opened its newest attraction – Pirate River Quest.
Villain-Con Minion Blast opens in the summer of 2023 at Universal Studios Florida. It will form part of a new Minion land, featuring the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction, a new Minion café and more.
Universal’s Great Movie Escape at Universal CityWalk is the first-ever escape room experience that has two rooms with interactive missions and detailed sets. Inspired by blockbusters, Jurassic World and Back to the Future, these promise to keep guests enthralled.
Cutting Edge Entertainment at Icon Park
Beyond the theme parks, Max Action Arena opened at ICON Park in November 2022. This is an all-new entertainment centre for all ages. It features a range of experiences including cutting-edge virtual reality technology, adventure rooms and more (even axe throwing!).
Fine Dining Made Easy
Fine dining is now easier with the inaugural edition of the MICHELIN Guide Miami, Orlando and Tampa. This features no less than 33 MICHELIN Guide restaurants including 4 MICHELIN Starred venues.
The Future’s Bright – Brightline Extension in 2023
One of the big stories out of the Huddle is the Brightline extension to Orlando. This is scheduled to open in for late 2023. Brightline is a high-speed passenger rail system. It connects major cities in Florida, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. Brightline offers comfortable, fast and convenient travel options for both tourists and locals. Phil White from VisitOrlando explained “from an international perspective it opens up or it makes it easier to open up, twin centres with Miami or cruise and access to all of the Florida Keys which people could still do but you have to then drive up. Whereas this makes all of that a whole lot easier, so we’re really excited about that.”
Bigger & Better – Orlando International Airport Expansion Now Complete
On a similar transportation topic, Phil White provided an update in relation to the Orlando International Airport. Passengers can now experience a bigger and better airport with the expansion fully completed. Phil shares enthusiastically, “it’s great, it’s a beautiful airport. It really is so modern. It’s so very easy to transit through”.
Tropical Escape Vacation Homes – Orlando
While on the topic of Orlando Shane sat down and spoke with KellyAnn Beach from Tropical Escape Vacation Homes. It turns out, she is also an Irish passport holder and manages to visit her family from Cork this side of the pond every year.
Tropical Escape Vacation Homes offer a vast selection of villas primarily in Orlando but also a selection in other Florida beach destinations such as South Walton Beach, Panama City Beach and Sanibel.
KellyAnn highlighted the features of their website where agents can book direct – Tropicalescapevacationhomes.com. She explained, “people can book directly through us on our website at a retail price. When we’re working with travel agencies, we give them some back-end access”. This provides agent pricing.
Agents can also contact the team at Tropical Escape Vacation Homes directly by calling or emailing. KellyAnn detailed that they will support all agencies, big and small with bookings.
The website is extremely clear and concise giving details of exactly how far the “resort-style villas” are from the parks. For that high-end client or group bookings, there is the ability to select villas with home cinemas or games rooms making it the perfect choice for larger families or multi-generational holidays.
Navigating Orlando – iRide Trolly Pass
For those staying on International Drive in Orlando, a very handy option to get around the parks is picking up an iRide trolly pass. The iRide trolly is a bus that runs frequently (approx every 30 mins), features open-air seating, and is fully accessible.
It operates along International Drive, stopping at popular destinations like the Orlando Eye, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando starting at 8:00 a.m. and running through to 10:30 p.m.
Passes can be purchased on DoSomethingDifferent.com or alternatively, the team can set up accounts for Irish travel agents.
Norah White advised that even if you have car hire, the iRide trolly is a great way to avoid parking fees (can cost $20-$30 per day at the parks) and with 14-day passes costing as little as $10, it provides great value. Check www.IRideTrolley.com for more information.