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Orlando| I-Drive 360 | Merlin Entertainment Complex


East Coast(er) General
Staff member
I couldn't find a specific topic on this anywhere and it's not really a park, but here goes anyway:

Last week Merlin announced the name of it's multimillion-dollar development on International Drive in Orlando, Florida - I-Drive 360. The complex scheduled to open in 2015 will include a 400-foot-tall observation wheel called the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum, Sea Life Orlando aquarium and a variety of shops and restaurants.


Developers have an eye on the sky with their plans to make over the southern section of Orlando’s busy International Drive corridor.
Merlin Entertainments unveiled details of the attractions project, expected to open in the spring of 2015, called I-Drive 360.
Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, which will also operate the site, said he believes the complex will become a focal point for the more than 59 million tourists who visit Orlando annually.
“We believe that this is an exceptional group of attractions that will not only provide three quite different new experiences for visitors, but also together add an exciting new dimension to what is already available in the region,” he said in a statement.
The centerpiece of the $200 million entertainment complex is a 400-foot-tall observation wheel dubbed the Orlando Eye, billed as the tallest structure of its kind on the East Coast.
The wheel will feature 30 air-conditioned capsules, each with room for 15 passengers during the 20-minute ride. The attraction also includes a five-minute 3-D film that riders watch prior to boarding the wheel.


Theme park officials say the attraction will be a smaller version of the London Eye and provide sky-high views of the theme parks, downtown Orlando and surrounding areas. On a clear day, visitors may be able to see as far east as the Kennedy Space Center more than 50 miles away.
Construction is about halfway complete.
In addition to the observation wheel, the new entertainment complex will include Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum, Sea Life Orlando aquarium and a host of new shops and dining options. The first of the eateries, Yard House owned by Darden restaurants, opened this month.
“From 2015, these two, together with the unique views from the Eye will become must-do experiences for every visitor to Orlando,” said James Paulding, Merlin Entertainment’s head of openings for North America, said in a statement.
I-Drive 360 will also serve as a backdrop for large, open-air events. County government leaders hope larger conventions and corporations will use the space to host parties and events with the three attractions as a backdrop.
Merlin, which also operates the Legoland Florida theme park in nearby Polk County, plans to offer an annual pass that will enable guests to make unlimited visits to all three attractions at I-Drive 360 as well as the Legoland Florida theme park.
Source: http://www.travelweekly.com/North-A...nter-of-Orlandos-International-Drive-project/

Construction photos:






The entrance to The Orlando Eye is in the center, while the Sea Life Aquarium is on the right and Madame Tussauds on the left.

Orlando Eye concept art:



Sea Life concept art:





Madame Tussauds concept art:


Visitors will first pass through a Florida inspired area, complete with an airboat.


How wax figures will be presented to allow visitors to snap selfies with the figures.


One setting inside will show Walt Disney in his drawing studio.


A storyboard reveals Marvel Comics intellectual property will also be on display.

Local news video report: http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/rendering-released-i-drive-360-project/nfbd8/


Mega Poster
I drove past that structure when I was down there earlier this month. I was wondering what the heck it was.


Hyper Poster
I'm glad it's a Madame Tussauds celebrity wax museum and not one of those Madame Tussauds ordinary people wax museums, full of dinner ladies and quantity surveyors. They're rubbish.


CF Legend
I still do not understand why they need the wheel. All you still see is grass, roads and some buildings.

Sea life you have sea world down the road and they were planning a wax work at Legoland. I really do not get this.

Soon though you will struggle to get Orlando done in two weeks if you want to do everything.

Seeing this will not be included in the UK pass will people that have a pass go?


Strata Poster
This is on that area that was (a while ago) the Mercado isn't it?

(my first visit to Orlando, I recall getting a bit drunk in the English bar there)


CF Legend
The garuda thing in the sealife is cool but why is it just a photo manip... EugghghghghgMerlin.

I think this will all do surprisingly well, but I don't want it to. I want it to fail miserably.


Hyper Poster
david morton said:
This is on that area that was (a while ago) the Mercado isn't it?

(my first visit to Orlando, I recall getting a bit drunk in the English bar there)

Yes from what I understand this was the old mercado.

This attraction is intended to be a half day/night attraction to fill extra time. Will be interesting to see how Fun Spot is affected by this, as this will be their primary competition level in the area.


Hyper Poster
CanobieFan said:
Eh.... until they add coasters and go-karts I'm sure Fun Spot will be just fine :p

Im not saying this is going to cause Fun Spot to close its doors, but as others have said in this thread there is already so many attractions time is very precious in Orlando. People arent going to give up a day at Disney or Universal for this (or/fun spot). Fun Spot is competing for extra days or even a free night from tourists, hell their commercials even say "just give us a few hours". Howmany families who would have done Fun Spot again, or even for the first time, will now do the Idrive complex?


CF Legend
It'll be an absolutely HUGE success with a lot more additions in the future (Dungeon).

The fact there's an actual Nightclub opening here too is amazing. I-Drive REALLY lacks a good Nightclub.


Roller Poster
Agree with lofty, this will be huge, a good move by merlin. I give it a year before dungeons and Shrek are there.


CF Legend
It'll be interesting to see if Dungeons takes off in the US. I don't see why it wouldn't. I think it's more to US tastes anyway.

Lofty, I don't suppose you know if the current one planned is externally themed to Europe or location relevant like the existing ones?


CF Legend
The San Francisco Dungeon is semi-location based to the local area, but it's more generic USA based. It does follow the same pattern as the rest in terms of the scenes such as judgement, plague, ghosts etc. but themed to 'historic' tales of the country.

Screaming Coasters

Strata Poster
This complex cost $200 million? Hmm...

It actually looks great though, and it leaves me to say one thing. Merlin, why can't we have nice stuff? :'(

Martyn B

CF Legend
Only just seen this. How very imaginative of you Merlin.

They keep going about being second only to Disney, yet they can never come up anything even remotely interesting.