Discover What's New in Orlando for 2017

Discover What’s New in Orlando for 2017

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Discover What’s New in Orlando for 2017

We shared some info to help you discover what’s new in Orlando for 2017. There are a lot of projects on the horizon, but few with firm dates.

In this episode, we’ll share what we know about:

  • Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Volcano Bay Water Park at Universal Studios
  • Miss Fortune Falls at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
  • Margaritaville Resort Orlando

As you can see, there are new attractions at both Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. One of the biggest features appearing this year is Margaritaville Resort Orlando (thought it’s really in Kissimmee) –  a 300 acre resort with a hotel, many vacation homes, shopping, dining and I expect a good quantity of rum.

We want to remind you that making plans to be among the first to check out new attractions is a risky proposition. Let’s face it, they often run late. That’s likely why we aren’t getting a firm start date, other than ‘2017.”


Welcome to the Orlando Local Show, episode number twenty-five.

William:   Thank you so much for joining us on Orlando Local in 2017.  Happy New Year!

Lee:         Happy New Year to all of you!

William:   Today we are going to be talking about what’s new in Orlando for 2017 to help you discover a few things. It may not be everything that’s coming to Orlando, but some of the stuff that’s kind of out on the larger fringe for vacations.

Lee:         Yes, things that caught our attention.

William:   And my name is William Beem.

Lee:         My name is Lee Beem.

William:   Once again, Happy New Year!  We are really excited. We are looking forward to the new year. We’ve got a lot of plans coming up and I don’t want to announce them yet, because like some of the things that we are going to discuss here, they may or may not show up on time.

Lee:         And sometimes they’re subject to change.

William:   Yeah, exactly. We want to tell you, there are four things we are going to bring up and this is hopefully going to be a fairly quick show, because there’s not a lot of details.  We can’t tell you we’ve experienced any of this stuff yet because it’s not built.

Lee:         That’s true. Or not complete.

William:   Yeah, we’ve seen some of it in construction and progress and it looks impressive, but we haven’t gone through it obviously because it ain’t open for us to go through.

But we wanted to give you a little warning about what we’ve experienced in the past.  That is when it tells you that it is opening by a certain date, take that with a grain of salt.

Lee:         Yes.  A lot of the time – I’d say more often than not – something happens. With these enormous projects it is just too big for nothing to go wrong.

William:   You’ve made plans before when you were visiting Walt Disney World. You were planning on something and it wasn’t ready when you got here.

Lee:         We did.  We had planned around the opening of the New Fantasyland and it wasn’t a deal breaker for us, but we had pushed our trip to a different time of the year so that we could experience that and what we had done was we didn’t want to be there right in the beginning straight after it opened so we figured three months after the targeted opening date.  When we got there we were there for three weeks and it opened a week after we left.

William:   I mean three months late plus three weeks.  I mean that’s four months away.

Lee:         And that was the adjusted one. That wasn’t even the original anticipated opening time. That was one that had already been delayed. It happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. You cannot let it ruin your trip so be wary of building a trip around this.

William:   And before we get into the items that are coming up here, into Orlando, I just want to let you know the usual stuff.

Show notes are going to be available at

You can get a free transcript of the show there and of course there are links to subscribe at  We’ll make sure that all of that is ready there for you.  So let’s go ahead and get started.

The first thing we’re going to talk about is one of the biggest ones and that is Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This is supposed to open in 2017. They are not even specific about what time of year.

Lee:         Not yet, no. But I think they are actually wise with that because people see a key word and they lock onto it like it’s gospel and they make their plans, they spend money, book their vacation time .... it’s probably better if they are not sure, that they don’t announce anything.

William:   About a week or two back Disney was doing a push with local media and they were talking about Pandora. They had some video of what the ride experiences were going to be like and they were saying “summer 2017.”

I would not book a summer vacation expecting Pandora to be open.

Lee:         Well summer in Florida could be November!

William:   Well that’s true!

Here is the text that we’ve got. It’s opening in 2017. The new land will transport guests into the lush alien world of Pandora from the 2009 film. I was going to say 20-09. That didn’t sound right.

Lee:         It doesn’t work, does it?

William:   No, it really doesn’t!

Anyways, they are bringing in a lot of visual elements and one of the things that they talked about on the web page from Disney was Avator Flight of Passage. The idea is that guests are going to be able to soar on a banshee; those are like the humongous dinosaur birds from Pandora and you get to fly over things from kind of a bird’s eye view.

I noticed that when they were talking about this on the news a few weeks ago they weren’t talking about riding on a banshee. They were talking about the river cruise element.

There’s like a bio luminescent jungle and you are on a boat kind of sailing through it.

Lee:        The artist renditions look absolutely fantastic. I’ll say straight out, I’ve never seen Avatar. It’s not my kind of movie. However, I think if you like photography – and this looks like it’s going to be very interactive – I think this is going to be a wonderful experience.

I still don’t really see how it fits into Animal Kingdom as the chosen park ...

William:   That’s been one of the criticism that people had. Why is Disney doing Avatar? It was not a Disney movie. It’s from 2009 so it’s really going back a few years. I understand Disney doing things with their new movies. They are bringing out attractions for Guardians of the Galaxy, they brought out the change in Norway at Epcot over to Frozen and I expect that Star Wars Land is also being built over at Hollywood Studios.

Avatar Land? I didn’t really see the connection to it and why it is done.

I did see the movie. I didn’t expect to like the movie and I really came out enjoying it. It is a whole new fantasy. It’s not a Disney fantasy by any stretch of the imagination.

Lee:         Well that’s OK. I just put that out there as disclosure. However having looked at what we’ve seen so far in the little previews, it looks like something worth visiting. I haven’t dismissed it as something I wouldn’t enjoy. I am still a little bit confused as to how Animal Kingdom was picked to host this.

William:   Probably because it didn’t fit anywhere else and probably because they had the space there.

Lee:         I suppose so.

William:   We’ve been out to Animal Kingdom while they are doing construction. They have two big construction cranes, which I named Sal and Morris.

Lee:         Yes, that’s right!

William:   One of the things about Avatar is there are supposed to be big chunks of – I don’t even know how else to describe it – big chunks of land that float in space. I thought, alight, how are they going to do that?

They have definitely built up a couple of large mountains, you know, with something on top so when you walk through I suppose it will look like you can see something hovering above you; although it’s got to be rooted on ground somehow because even Disney doesn’t have the technology to make something that massive float!

Lee:         Not that we are aware.

William:   Not that we are aware!  If they open that up and it floats I’m really going to be impressed.

Lee:         Oh yeah!

William:   Avatar Land, if you haven’t seen the movie, one of the things  that they have been showing on the videos lately is this jungle that all the flowers and plants and everything seems to kind of have a glow. It’s luminescent.

Lee:         Yes.

William:   And that’s what you were talking about, I think, for photography. It’s really going to be kind of an alien experience.

I’m not sure what to expect of it yet, but it’s coming in 2017. I think summer of 2017, but you know what?

Lee:         Don’t hold us to that.

William:   Don’t hold us to that. I can’t be in charge of Disney’s construction schedule.

The next thing that’s coming up is over at Universal Studios.  This is Volcano Bay Waterpark.  And this one, we’ve been driving by.

We’ve been to City Walk a few times. I drive by on I-4 and I see this thing. The volcano is enormous!  It’s going to be like a big monument inside of the skyline.

Lee:         It really is.

William:   And it looks like a really wonderful attraction. We’ve been looking at some of the art coming up. Again, this doesn’t really have a date for us yet.

Lee:         It doesn’t. I have to say I’m not a water parks person. I do them – well I’ve done them in the past because kids like water parks so it was one of those things where I wanted our daughter to have a good time. So I went and did it. I don’t hate them. I don’t dislike them. But it never would have been worth the effort for me.

This is one when, having a look at the glimpses that they’ve shared up to this point, where it’s drawn me in and I though this looks like fun!  I do want to try it.

William:  Well they are setting it up to look like a tropical island which, for summer time around here, that’s a nice theme to begin with.

Lee:         Oh yes.

William:   It’s very different than what Disney did with Blizzard Beach. I don’t like the idea of swimming around snow capped mountains.

Lee:         It’s kind of cool though. It is fun!  You haven’t been to Blizzard Beach, have you?

William:   No I haven’t. I’ve been by it but I haven’t been into it.

Lee:         It is a nice park.

William:   This one is going to have a little combination of things because people and families that visit, some people are going to want the thrilling attractions, some people are going to want a peaceful place to relax. This claims to have both over there.

It’s an entirely new guest experience, but you know what? Every place says that when they – just before they open.

Lee:         Of course they do!

William:   They’re not going to come out and say, “Yes, it’s a wonderful new water park. It’s the same old thing that you’ve experienced everywhere else before and that’s why we know you’re going to like it!”

Lee:         I think I like the theme of this. I’m always drawn to tropical themes. That is kind of my thing.

William:   I’m looking forward to seeing it and in Universal Orlando Resort, this is going to be just a bit south of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  So that kind of ties it together. You’ve got the beach resort and then you’ve got this tropical water park. I think that’s really a good move on Universal’s part.

I’m curious to see it and the original water park in Orlando closed at the end of 2016.  That was Wet and Wild over on International Drive. I remember when that was built. That was just like a whole bunch of construction right up on International Drive.

You saw all the scaffolding and everything that put it together. And they didn’t care. You’re going in there for the flume rides and the pool and everything else.  This is going to be different.  You are not going to see the infrastructure underneath. You are going to see the environment and the slide just happens to go down the volcano.

Lee:         I think with rides, Disney and Universal have kind of changed the way that people present these things now; these companies who build them. It used to be a case of going out to a theme park and you get on there for the rush. You know, all the construction, the coaster frames and things are out there in the open. You can watch other people screaming and getting their brains rattled out.

Things have changed now where they want to immerse you in an experience.

William:   And Universal Studios has been like that. If you go and ride The Hulk, you see the framework and everything. It’s like they call it The Hulk, it’s green, but it’s just another rollercoaster where you’re turning upside down on a big frame.

This is really, in my mind, this is a really big move by Universal Studios. So is all the stuff they’ve done with Harry Potter’s Wizarding World. They are really immersing you in a story. And they are doing the same thing here.

I think it adds to the attraction when you go to the place.

Lee:         Oh it really does.

William:   Alright, speaking of water parks, the next item on our list is really just a new attraction at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.  This is called Miss Fortune Falls.

Lee:         Yes, we couldn’t find a whole lot of information about that. Disney is being a little bit secretive, as they usually are. They like to feed you out little tidbits to tease you.

William:   And once again we know we have heard 2017. We don’t know when. From what we’ve been able to gather so far, this is going to be one of the longest in duration at any Disney water park. In other words you don’t get on and it’s going to be over with just as soon as you get on it.

Lee:         Yes.

William:   You are going to be going on this.  And this is called a high seas adventure and it’s going to be a raft kind of adventure and you’re going to go into a little bit of white water. So you get your treasure raft, go on the entry point and you get a little adventure going through and you get to see some of what Miss Fortune has collected on her many worldwide treasure hunts.

Beyond a raft and white water rafting voyage, I don’t really know what else to say.

Lee:         You know, it’s a wonderful waterslide. That’s really what it is.

William:   It’s something to look forward to. I am curious as to what it’s going to be like. I would like to see a bit more artwork or something that kind of shows what’s the path you’re going to take. What are some of the things you are going to see?  And the white water – it says it’s a family friendly raft attraction, so I don’t think the white water is going to be very strong.

Lee:         No, it’s not. I mean I’m guessing that this is for families with kids of pretty much all ages.

William:   So the other question we were talking about before we started the show was, is this where everybody gets on their own raft or does a family get on a raft?

Lee:         I am guessing that when it says family friendly that it’s going to be a family raft.

William:   OK.

Lee:         Because if you don’t really have age restrictions or height restrictions or at least that they’re kind of catering for toddlers and up, they generally don’t put toddlers alone on a raft.

William:   I would imagine not.

Lee:         All of you are going to sit together.

William:   I’m thinking this is almost like a lot of the Disney attractions that are really water rides. You are going to be in ... they are going to call it a raft, but it’s probably not going to be where you’re standing up like on Tom Sawyer’s raft.

Lee:         Oh, no, no.

William:   You’re going to be sitting down.

Lee:         You’re sitting down. It’s kind of like with those inflatable rubber, heavy duty things.  And it’s kind of fun to go with somebody, because you know, you go by yourself, you have the experience, but there is something different about being other people and watching them getting splashed and screaming; sprayed.

William:   Sort of like the Kali River Rapids.

Lee:         Pretty much, yeah.

William:   It’s a water park so expect to get wet!

Lee:         Take a bathing suit!

William:   Exactly! I can imagine going to a water park in a long pair of pants or Levi’s or khakis and saying, “I’m here.”

Lee:         Oh people do. Not everybody wants to get wet.

William:   OK, the last item on our list is Margaritaville Resort Orlando.  This one looks like it’s going to be huge! And we are talking like three hundred acres huge.

Lee:         It ... yeah.  It looks enormous, but it also looks really, really cool.

William:   This is going to be in Kissimmee so it’s not too far from Walt Disney World. The address they’ve given us is 8118 US Highway 192, Kissimmee, Florida.  And thee hundred acres!  That’s because it’s going to be more than just a hotel or over here.  If you’ve been to Margaritaville Restaurant, you kind of get an idea of the theming that’s going on.

We were looking at a little bit of a video that they’ve done and my first thought was like, this is Tommy Bahama for hotels!

Lee:         Yes, it is. I mean it’s just beautiful.

William:   It looks extremely nice. I mean it looks really, really nice. There is a lot of space, there’s a lot of decoration. This is not going to be an inexpensive place.

Lee:         No, this is not budget friendly for people looking for a cheap overnight stay!

William:   So they are going to start off with a 175 room hotel and then there are going to be 700 Margaritaville themed vacation homes.  Seven hundred!  I mean we are talking villas, I guess, basically.

Lee:         I know, but it’s the size of those homes.

William:   They looked lovely. I mean if you want to be at a tropical themed resort and have your own little vacation home there and then still go off to Disney and other attractions, but come back to this, it’s got to be a wonderful idea.

Not only are they going to have the 175 room hotel and the 700 vacation homes, but they are going to have retail, dining and a twelve acre water park.

Lee:         It’s like they’ve built a city.

William:   Really, it is Margaritaville City, just south of Orlando.  They are going to do everything from destination weddings ... things are going to start in 2017, but there will be new openings. Basically they are doing this in phases.

Lee:         Yes.

William:   That kind of tells you if you are going to be one of the first people there, expect that there is going to be construction around you.

Lee:         Yeah, or nearby.

William:   We were looking at the website. I’ve got to tell you the website has a video when you start up and that’s where we were getting our information of what the place looks like. And of course they are not showing the actual place.  You’ll see the beach in the background and trust me, at Kissimmee there is no ocean available!

Lee:         No.

William:   But go to ....

Lee:         But they’ve built something there like the water parks and ...

William:   They have and we’ll put this url on the show notes, but go to and you’ll see the page.

I’m going to give you a warning. They have this little parrot that pops up at the bottom. And he talks!

Lee:         Yes. And you can mute him and then you scroll down and the volume comes back on again.

William:   I want to strangle this little parrot’s neck. It is informative if you don’t mind having him pop up, but it’s kind of like a scrolling page. You see a whole page, you click an arrow at the bottom, you go down to the next page and then the parrot pops back up again.

Lee:         Yeah, if you’ve got kids who are asleep when you’re watching this, mute the volume on your computer.

William:   Jimmy Buffet, if you are listening to this, and I know you are, give us a way to mute that parrot once so we don’t have to mute him on every page.

Lee:         Yes!

William:   And that is really the top items that we saw that we think you would be interested in, coming to Orlando in 2017.  We hope this has been helpful for you and we appreciate you very much.  Thank you so much once again.  Happy New Year!

We hope 2017 is great for you and we’ll be looking forward to seeing you come back here again next week.

Hey, we got through our first show of 2017 so thank you for listening to Orlando Local Show. As I said at the beginning, show notes are going to be available at and you can find a transcript of the show there for free.

We would love it if you would subscribe to the Orlando Local Show.  Please just go there, click on the links. You can subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Blubrry, a couple of others we’ll set out there and that way you’ll get the show delivered to you for free; straight to your player.

Thank you so much. We’ll see you next week!

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One Comment

  1. In addition to the Orlando resorts at Westgate, there are also plenty of hotels in Kissimmee that offer convenient access to all the attractions and activities in the area. From budget-friendly motels to upscale resorts, there’s something for every taste and budget in Kissimmee.

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