Courtesy Visit Kissimmee
Just beyond Orlando, Kissimmee is a combination of Old Florida and new. There are gators and Gaylord; cowboys and tower balloon rides. Here are a few of the new developments in this lively area.
• Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center had barely wrapped up the remodel of its 1,400 guest rooms before it launched an expansion of its meeting and event venues. In mid-May, it unveiled its two-story Wreckers Sports Bar, which readers of the Orlando Sentinel voted best place to watch a game; its new 10,000-square-foot Coquina lawn, pictured at right; and its new South Beach Pool. Wreckers, with its 20-foot-high video screen, a bar on both levels and a dance floor, overlooks the new pool. The pool has its own cocktail bar.
• By next spring, the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate will have a new conference center with 46,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 28,800-square-foot ballroom and an event lawn. The Omni has 720 guest rooms and suites, as well as villas.
• This fall, an Embassy Suites with 300 two-room suites and 40,000 square feet of meeting space will open. The new property will have more meeting space than any other Embassy Suites in the state.
• The Radisson Resort Orlando-Celebration is scheduled for a $10 million renovation, to be completed by this fall. The project will touch all areas of the 718-room hotel, on 23 landscaped acres near the town of Celebration.
• Orlando Balloon Rides has launched the tallest hot-air balloon in the United States, more than 11 stories high. The balloon carries 24 passengers; it towers over the Kissimmee company’s 16-passenger balloons.
• Ziplines on a 4,700-acre working cattle ranch and nature preserve and at an alligator park give visitors a new appreciation for Central Florida’s many dimensions and add new team-building options. Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida has added the Zipline Safari and the Cypress Canopy Cycle to its offerings. The Zipline Safari takes guests over streams, wetlands and cypress forest at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and heights of up to 68 feet. The canopy cycle allows them to pedal a reclining bike that’s suspended on high-tension cables for a relaxing one-hour ride through the trees. At Gatorland, riders on the Screamin’ Gator zipline view the habitats of the park’s Cuban Crocodiles and Alligator Breeding Marsh as they travel at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.