Want to visit the Orlando area but think the major theme parks are the only attraction games in town?
Then think again about traversing along I-Drive!
The really cool thing is that International Drive—I-Drive for short—has a great deal to offer not only out-of-towners but locals as well. In fact, in the aftermath of the beginning of the pandemic, local residents have begun coming out in greater numbers to reconnect with this area that is now part of the newly rebranded Orlando Entertainment District.
Located near I-4, Universal Boulevard, the Beachline, and the Turnpike on International Drive, the Orlando Entertainment District is the next step along what has already been a long tradition of pulsating entertainment districts in Orlando dating back to the 1970s with Church Street Station, and beginning in the 1990s with Pleasure Island.
The present-day need and desire for safe, high quality, fun dining and entertainment options suitable for all budgets and across generational lines has resulted in an estimated 75% patronage of the new District by local residents.
Today’s District encompasses over a dozen exciting attractions, diverse restaurants, fun night clubs and nightly live entertainment, recreational activities, dinner theatres, and more, as well as the Orange County Convention Center, a sprawling, architecturally stunning “Center of Hospitality” and major draw for meeting, convention, and overall tourism business.
At the center of the District you’ll find ICON Park, a 20-acre, walkable, open-air dining, shopping, and attraction destination chock full of boutique shops, a wide variety of restaurants to suit all culinary tastes, bars and entertainment clubs, rides and more, and you’ll enjoy free parking - another budget-friendly aspect.
The heart of ICON Park, literally and figuratively, is The Wheel. Opened in 2015 and soaring 400 feet in the air it’s important to note that The Wheel isn't considered a Ferris wheel, rather a unique, air-conditioned capsule offering
spectacular views of the Orlando skyline.
Although designed to hold up to 15 people (individual and group rates are available), visitors can opt for a complimentary upgrade to their own private capsule for the 18-minute ride. Once airborne you can take in remarkable views of Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, the Big and Little Sand Lakes, Downtown Orlando, and the full length of International Drive in the distance.
For fun under the sea be sure to visit SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.
Here you can explore the depths of our oceans and get “face-to-fin” with thousands of sea creatures including starfish, sea turtles, fish, octopus, stingrays, sharks, sea anemones, eels, and other wonders of the deep.
Pit Bull, Lady Gaga, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sophia Vergara, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Taylor Swift, Albert Einstein, President Obama, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, David Beckham, Wonder Woman, Katy Perry, and John Travolta are just a few of the celebrities and historic figures you’ll encounter at Madame Tussauds Orlando.
Standing next to these incredibly life-like, created to scale celebrities is surprisingly exhilarating and part of the fun is capturing a distance shot or close-up selfie with your favorite stars!
For the wee little ones the “mini-locomotive” Pearl Express Train makes a small but exciting loop around the park, and the adults can join in on the fun with the kiddos as well at Arcade City featuring the latest in arcade games for family-friendly competition.
Flying through the air takes on new significance with the Orlando StarFlyer, a swing on steroids which, at 450 feet, claims to be the world’s tallest swing ride attraction.
If virtual reality-esque excitement is your thing, try the 7D Darkride Adventure. The state-of-the-art technology used to create this unique first-person shooter perspective game is quite impressive and when combined with the movement, sights, and sounds of the “ride” seat and room, you really do feel like you’re immersed in the heart of the action. Choose to experience one, two, or all three of the adventure themes offered!
Are culinary adventures on your tourist or staycation itinerary? Then dig in at any of a number of dining options at ICON Park, including the Wheelhouse Market Food Hall, iLounge Istanbul, the Yard House, Ole Red Orlando, Tin Roof Orlando, the Shake Shack, Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant, the Sugar Factory, or Tapa Toro Spanish Restaurant, just to name a few.
Huge savings are available by purchasing any one of the ICON Park Attraction Combo Tickets, or opt for the ICON Park Play Pass, where for only $65 you get to experience all of the attractions mentioned here, plus a $5.00 Play Card from Arcade City. And the Pass is valid for 30 days from date of purchase.
I-Drive is Alive!
There is so much to see and do all along I-Drive that you can’t take it all in in one day. Among the attractions sure to delight and inspire you’ll find Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Pirate’s Cove Golf, Mango's Tropical Café, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Pirates Dinner Adventure, The Escape Game, Sleuth's Mystery Dinner Shows, and Kings Dining & Entertainment, among others.
To learn more about these entities check out their websites and follow them on social media:
International Drive (I-Drive)
Orlando Entertainment District