Orlando welcomes 2022 with a bunch of new experiences, ranging from a brand new theme park and a much-anticipated immersive hotel taking guests to a galaxy “far, far away” to Michelin chef dining options and an acoustically perfect theatre.
“Travelers in 2022 are prioritising vacation plans to reconnect with family and friends through new experiences that create unforgettable memories, and Orlando is the perfect destination to do that,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO for Visit Orlando.
“Orlando is ready for an exciting year ahead with openings ranging from a brand new Peppa Pig theme park and acoustically perfect performance hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary celebration festivities.”
Continuous updates on what’s new in Orlando can be found at VisitOrlando.com, the official visitor information source for the destination.
NEW THEME PARK THRILLS
Orlando’s theme parks continue to expand in 2022, with much-anticipated expansions and an entirely new theme park.
Walt Disney World Resort
Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary celebration brings new experiences to all four theme parks and beyond. Some of the most anticipated experiences for 2022 include:
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, EPCOT’s first “other-world” showcase pavilion opening in the summer, features a new storytelling coaster that rotates 360 degrees to focus on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open a new show, “Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond,” reimagined to be set in the timeline of the Finding Dory film.
SeaWorld Orlando Parks & Entertainment
Ice Breaker, SeaWorld Orlando’s first launch coaster, will open in February 2022. The ride features four launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch with a 93-foot-tall spike with 100-degree angle, the steepest vertical drop in Florida.
The new Reef Plunge water slide at Aquatica Orlando launches in spring 2022. Guests will zoom past a vibrant array of marine life, Commerson’s dolphins, leopard sharks and a variety of other cold-water fish.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort
The world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park will open Feb. 24, 2022 at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. The standalone theme park will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, fun live shows, themed playscapes and water play areas.
Pirate River Quest, a family friendly treasure hunt adventure, allows guests to journey through the uncharted waters of the legendary Cypress Gardens and discover the secrets protecting its canals, as this all-new story unfolds brick by brick.
BEYOND THE THEME PARKS
Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will open Jan. 14, 2022 in the heart of downtown Orlando. The facility achieves an N1 sound rating – the lowest level at which humans can detect sound.
Art² (“art squared”), an urban park featuring a two-story shipping container structure, is coming to downtown Orlando in spring 2022. The park will incorporate a café, art gallery, stage, seating, digital video walls and a gift shop, as well as an artificial turf courtyard, a concrete patio, picnic tables and hammocks and two food truck spaces.
The Orlando Slingshot™ and Orlando Free Fall™ – two world-record-setting attractions – open in December 2021. The Orlando Slingshot™ stands at 300 feet, making it the world’s tallest slingshot. The two-tower attraction launches two riders out of an “exploding volcano,” straight up into the sky, reaching speeds of 100 mph. The Orlando Free Fall™ at ICON Park stands at 430 feet, making it the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower.
Cirque du Soleil – Drawn to Life premiered at Disney Springs in November 2021. The show is a combination of Disney animation and awe-inspiring performances including 10 unique acrobatic acts.
Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex will open at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in March 2022. The 50,000-square-foot, multi-level attraction will feature a showcase of NASA and commercial spacecraft hardware with immersive displays, as well as a “journey” through space, unique launch viewing opportunities and more.
Walt Disney World‘s immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, will open March 1, 2022. Guests will “board” the starship Halcyon for an all-inclusive experience that puts them into the immersive world of Star Wars.
The Tuscan-inspired, 126-room ette Hotel Orlando opens spring 2022 near Disney World. Focusing on wellness as an alcohol-free property, the hotel offers culinary experiences in partnership with Michelin Star Chef Akira Back, along with The Spa at ette, with services for everyone from the modern minimalist to the unruly naturalist.
Lake Nona Wave Hotel, opening Dec. 20, is a leading-edge hotel featuring 216 guest rooms, 16 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites. Guests will enjoy three restaurants and bars; tech-forward amenities such as voice-automated in-room controls; a focus on holistic wellbeing including access to the world’s first Chopra Mind-Body Zone located at the nearby Lake Nona Performance Club; over 400 pieces of art and a 50,000 sq. foot Sculpture Garden.
Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort opened a 14-story, 349-room hotel tower, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, in Fall 2021. The property – just a short walk to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot – features meeting rooms with rooftop terraces, a restaurant, full-service health club, 90-foot-long pool and more.
NEW ON THE MENU
Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen opened December 2021 at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. The restaurant, from the Top Chef All-Stars winner, features cuisine inspired by tropical flavors and ingredients from Florida, including native fruits, vegetables, seafood and more.
Pointe Orlando will open two new restaurants including Kavas Tacos & Tequila in spring/summer 2022 and JoJo’s Shake Bar in fall/winter 2022. Kavas features a menu paying tribute to Mexico’s rich culinary history, featuring savory comfort food, fresh tableside experiences, and recipes hand-crafted from the freshest ingredients.
Sloppy Joe’s, the legendary Key West saloon, opened at ICON Park on Dec. 6, offering live music and island-inspired food and libations.
New York Beer Project, built to resemble a 1900’s indoor beer garden in New York’s lower East Side, will open March 2022 in Winter Garden – just a short drive from Disney World. The brewery will feature a gastropub, indoor beer garden, tap room, brewery, sidewalk bistro, as well as three New York City themed event spaces.
AVA MediterrAegean, a new Mediterranean restaurant and lounge from executive chef Hung Huynh, Top Chef’s season 3 winner, is slated to open early 2022 on Park Avenue in Winter Park.
Café-Boutique PIANO, a restaurant featuring European cuisine and live nightly piano shows, is coming to Winter Park’s Hannibal Square in 2022.
The BANDBOX – Orlando, Central Florida’s first alcohol-free speakeasy cocktail tasting lounge and collectibles/vintage shop, will open in spring 2022 at Ivanhoe Village in Downtown Orlando.
The Hall on the Yard, located in downtown Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village, is a new full-service food hall delivering nine diverse culinary offerings, five curated event spaces, and three premium cocktail bars in an eclectic environment.
Founder of 4 Rivers Restaurant Group, John Rivers, will open the first phase of the 4Roots Farm Campus in late 2022. When complete, the 18-acre urban farm, located in The Packing District, will include classrooms, a community green space, farm to table restaurant and more than 49,000 square feet of greenhouses and a diverse range of growing systems focused on innovation, sustainability and education.
The Milkhouse, located in the Milk District in downtown Orlando, opened in late-2021. The unique dining space houses some of the most notable Central Florida Food & Beverage brands like Bagel Bruno, Foxtail Coffee Co. and Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream.
MAJOR AIRPORT EXPANSION
The largest construction project in airport history is underway at Orlando International Airport, The South Terminal Complex.
Phase one of the $3.82 billion, multi-year project is expected to be substantially completed in the first quarter of 2022.The project will add 15 gates and includes features such as interactive digital media, a state-of-the-art radio frequency baggage system, numerous shops, restaurants, lounge facilities and the Intermodal Terminal Facility (ITF), which is designed to accommodate up to three train systems including the Brightline train with service to Miami.