Orlando Expands Its Meetings Offerings

From the convention center and hotels to the airport, big changes are underway.

Orlando is consistently ranked as a top convention city in the United States, and now the destination is getting even better by expanding its already robust meetings offerings. Everything from the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) and several of the city’s hotels to the Orlando International Airport is adding more space — and the destination’s hotel inventory is also increasing, which is good news for big groups.

This year, the Orlando International Airport, Florida’s busiest airport, will continue its enhancement project with more upgrades, including a new Airside 3 APM (airport people mover system). The existing APMs, which were installed in the 1970s, will be replaced with a new train. The gates at Airside 4 will receive 119,000 square feet of renovation this year, increasing throughput by 25 percent. There is also a $3 billion South Terminal facility being constructed adjacent to the new Intermodal Facility, which will accommodate more gates for both domestic and international air service, expanded customs and check-in areas to travel with ease, as well as future rail transportation, including high speed rail, light rail, and commuter rail. Plus, preparations will continue for Brightline, a high-speed rail to West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami, set to begin service in 2020. Despite its rapid growth, Orlando International Airport (MCO) once again ranks highest in its class in the J.D. Power 2018 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, ensuring an exceptional travel experience for Orlando guests.

The Orange County Convention Center has embarked upon a $605M Capital Improvement Plan for two Campus Master Plan projects:

  • Convention Way Grand Concourse an enclosed connection between the North and South concourses that includes additional meeting and ballroom space and provides a new grand entry to the North/South building along Convention Way.
  • Multipurpose Venue a 200,000-square-foot, flexible, divisible, column-free space with a combination of retractable and floor seating to accommodate between 18,000-20,000 guests. This project will also incorporate connectivity between the North and South concourses.

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, for instance, is undergoing a major expansion, including a new ballroom set to open fall 2019.  “Ground has already been broken for our new 25,000-square-foot ballroom that will divide into 12 sections,” Gary Gotling, director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, tells Convene. “This expansion means we can now re-acquire some of the groups that have outgrown us and we can now accommodate much larger groups.” The property offers more than 65,000 square feet of meeting and event space.

Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club has added 28,000 square feet of meeting space. The property will now offer roughly 100,000 square feet of flexible event space. The expansion includes the 16,000-square-foot Newport Ballroom, which can be used for general sessions, exhibits, ceremonies, and networking events. There will also be a new pre-function area. “You’ll find upgrades throughout the rest of our convention center to match the look and feel of the new ballroom,” says Maryann Smith, vice president of sales, services, and events at Walt Disney World Resort, “plus great amenities and state-of-the-art technology that we’ve built into our meeting spaces.”

Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is also getting an expansion this year. Currently under development is a new 15-story tower with 500 additional guest rooms and suites, a new roof-top restaurant, and new meeting rooms, adding to the existing 220,000 square feet of event space. All 1,956 current rooms and suites will also be completely renovated.

In addition to existing hotels getting an update, there are several new hotels coming to Orlando. For instance, the newly opened 600-room Universal’s Aventura Hotel affords attendees easy access to the convention center and area’s top attractions, including three theme parks: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay. The modern hotel will also feature Universal Orlando Resort’s first-ever rooftop bar and grill, Bar 17 Bistro. Delegates can enjoy cocktails and globally inspired small plates while taking in stunning views.

Opening in 2020, the JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort will add 516 rooms to the meetings destination, and will live on a 482-acre, mixed-use community near the city’s theme parks. The venue will provide 50,000 square feet of event space. “[The property] will combine luxury service and accommodations with the warm atmosphere for which the brand is beloved,” said Mitzi Gaskins, global brand leader at JW Marriott and the Luxury Collection. “Through thoughtful design, enhanced culinary offerings, and family-friendly programming, this hotel is sure to become an enticing home away from home for our guests visiting the Sunshine State.”

Visitors taking a selfie at ICON Orlando 360™

With the destination’s growing meeting offerings, vibrant business and tech climate, and hands-on team at Visit Orlando, planners can host unique, record-breaking events in the city. Home to the country’s second-largest convention center, 150-plus meeting hotels, and “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” Orlando has everything convention attendees could want or need – and it’s only getting bigger and better.

To stay up-to-date on what’s happening in Orlando, sign up for Visit Orlando’s monthly What’s New Webinar.

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.