Tag Archives | Orlando I-Drive 360

Brand New I-Drive Experience: Tapas Before Take Off

Tapas Before Take Off - next to the Orlando EyeTapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit is inspired by the culture and tradition of authentic Spanish cuisine. It promises a dining experience unlike any other. Husband-and-wife duo, Vassilis and Katerina Coumbaros, are thrilled to announce Tapas Before Take-Off, an exciting combination of a three course prix fixe meal at their restaurant followed by a ride on one of Orlando’s most popular tourist attractions, The Orlando Eye. Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit is located at I-Drive 360 under the shining lights of the Orlando Eye and is literally just steps away from the attraction. Come for a one-of-a-kind dining experience and stay for an aerial view of all of Orlando. It is a must-do for tourists and residents alike!

Tapas Before Take Off

Tapas Before Take-Off is just $49.95/person including tax & gratuity. The price includes a three-course prix fixe menu, house drink, and a ticket to ride the Orlando Eye. Please make a reservation so that the restaurant knows that you’re coming and your spot is reserved.

Tapas Interior photo

View the menu here for Tapas Before Take Off.

Make a reservation for Tapas Before Take Off.

Arrive just before dusk to have dinner and ride the Orlando Eye as the sunsets and see International Drive lit up from above!

Tapa Toro Tapas Restaurant & Paella Pit

Located at I-Drive 360, Tapa Toro features tapas-style dining, a full-service bar and Flamenco dancing. The restaurant leads with a 12-seat paella pit serving up family-style paella, a traditional Spanish dish made of rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood. At Tapa Toro you can experience a night in Spain without ever having to leave Central Florida.

Executive Chef Wendy Lopez

Tappas cuisineExecutive Chef Wendy Lopez, a native of Michoacan, Mexico, began cooking at a young age while working in her family’s restaurant. After formal training at Le Cordon Bleu College in Orlando, she began her professional career at the Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere. She went on to become sous chef under Certified Master Chef Russell Scott.

She has aided in the development of a unique menu featuring a robust selection of hot and cold tapas, paella variations and desserts. Using only the freshest imported ingredients, Chef Lopez combines traditional Spanish elements to create an authentic taste experience for people in Orlando.


Just in case the communal seating in the bar or family-style paella pit don’t provide enough entertainment for your dining experience, every evening at Tapa Toro features flamenco dancing, bringing the sights and sounds of Spain right to your table. Take your meal to the next level by reserving the 12-seat paella pit for an up-close-and-personal experience with our Chef Lopez. Whether you are coming in for a private family dinner or a celebration with friends, a night at Tapa Toro is sure to ignite your senses.

Tapas Before Take Off is happening for a limited time so make your reservation today and experience the most flavorful and festive combination of dining and entertainment on International Drive.

King Kong, Skyfall & New Water Park Coming to Orlando

Waiting is difficult for those wanting to experience the returning King Kong ride at Universal Studios or the new Skyfall ride coming to the SkyPlex attraction in Orlando. We also learned recently the rumor of a new water park at Universal is most likely true. The wait has begun. These new features and Orlando theme parks will be here soon enough; a lot of preparation is required. New attractions just don’t magically appear – even in our magical vacation land!

King Kong Ride is Coming Back

You may remember the old King Kong ride. “Kongfrontation” opened in Universal Studios Florida in 1990 and closed in 2002. It involved a tram ride and a large Kong beast. As technology progresses, the new Kong ride will be an all-new experience. Comcast recently confirmed the return of the ride, but few details are being released. It’s anyone’s guess as to what features will be built into the new attraction. It will most likely be located between Jurassic Park River Adventure and Toon Lagoon in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Details will be announced as the year progresses – stay tuned to Orlando Tourist Tips. It may not open until 2016, but the push is on to get it out prior to the release of the movie “Skull Island.” Legendary Entertainment is expected to release the film in 2017, maybe sooner. This movie tells a tale of King Kong’s home – before westerners intervened. The story will be something to look forward to and could very well be incorporated into the new attraction.

New King Kong ride coming to Universal


Submitted plans tipped off rumors concerning a new Water Park at Universal Studios in Orlando

Universal’s New Water Park

Plans have been submitted for a new water park, and rumors are spreading like wild fire. Where’s the water to put them out? Near Cabana Bay Beach Resort, that’s where. The new water park will include a volcano with slides, a lazy river and rapids ride, a wave pool and many other features packed within the 25 ± acres.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you hear of “Volcano Bay” or “Wondersea Island” or another new water park coming to Orlando, this is the Universal Studios Water Park. The documents that helped spread the rumor earlier this year, project the construction continuing through November of 2016.

SkyFall and StarFlyer Rides Coming to SkyPlex

As written in an earlier post, the I-drive area is seeing a boom in new Orlando attractions. It is hard to keep up with it all. I-Drive 360 is an entertainment complex just south of the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Drive. It is set to open to the public on May 4, 2015. We know in addition to the Orlando Eye, another attraction complex called SkyPlex is adding new rides across the road. Orange County will need to seriously consider a pedestrian overpass, because these attractions go so well with each other.

The Skyscraper Polercoaster (the world’s tallest roller coaster), StarFlyer (swing ride) and the SkyFall (drop tower) are in the plans for SkyPlex. There will also be an observation deck at the top of the giant structure. The view from 535 feet off the ground is sure to show a growing Orlando.

SkyFall will be built inside the Polercoaster ride. It will drop 16 people at a time from 450 feet up. Be sure to look around on the 40 second ride to the top, because after the 15 second hold at the top, the 10 second ride down may be spent with your eyes closed! That’s 90 miles per hour! This new Orlando attraction is expected to be complete in 2017.

SkyPlex in Orlando

With so much to do in Orlando already, many people return to Central Florida each year trying to fit in what is already open. Sounds like the coming months and years will offer tourist even more reasons to return again and again. The new attractions will be thrilling, but waiting for them is so difficult!

International Drive is Growing Up as Theme Parks Slow Down

In 2015, the major theme parks appear to be holding off on any huge developments (with the exception of Downtown Disney), however, the International Drive area will grow to heights not seen before – literally. Just recently another height attraction was announced that it would be coming to this popular tourist area in Orlando. StarFlyer is a 420-foot-tall swing attraction that will be spinning its way into the I-Drive scene late next year.

This new tower ride will reach speeds of 40 mph and will last 3-4 minutes. The cost will run about $10/passenger. It will be located in the Vue at 360 (where construction for McFadden’s Irish Pub has begun). This project is near another development the same company, Unicorp National Developments, is working to complete early next spring.

Orlando Eye attraction

The Orlando Eye is still on target to open in the spring of 2015. New details about the capsules which will carry passengers up and down from the 400-foot observation wheel have been released. Each car will carry 15 people and there will be 30 capsules for a total capacity of 450 riders at a time. Each ride, or cycle, will last about 20 minutes and offers guests a 360-degree view of the area. Orlando Eye will be the main draw of I-Drive 360, a new shopping and dining complex.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The Yard House, Carrabba’s and Outback Restaurants are already open if you want to dine in this area before spring. Soon the Tin Roof Bar will be open as well. The Convention Center is just down the road, so if you are in town for a meeting, be sure to check this area out! Many other restaurants and shops will be added – and a parking garage, yea!

Ricky Martin & Wax FigureIn this same Orlando complex, Madame Tussauds wax museum will also be completed in 2015. Singer-actress Selena Gomez was the first celebrity identified as having a wax figure included in the Orlando museum attraction. Ricky Martin will also be featured along with a gallery of other celebrities, politicians, icons and famous athletes with Central Florida ties.

Rounding out the lineup at I-Drive 360 is the Sea Life aquarium. Recently the underwater tunnel for this attraction arrived. The 9-ton acrylic tube will give visitors an immersive view of the nearly 5,000 aquatic creatures which will inhabit this new Orlando attraction. Touch pools, bubble tanks and floor-to-ceiling displays are all set to open in the spring.

Other I-Drive Attraction

Another attraction that will be rising up on International Drive beginning in 2015 includes the Skyplex which is still being planned for completion in 2017. As you can see, the local tourism industry continues to do well, and Orlando is setting the standard for innovation and expansion. For us locals, we benefit by having more jobs, additional tax revenues and more fun things to do in our own back yard.

Keeping an Eye on Orlando Eye

Orlando Eye attraction

If you are keeping up, or trying to keep up with all of the happenings on I-Drive in Orlando (International Drive), you’ll want to sign up for updates on a new web site. The Orlando Eye’s official site is live and registers people who want to receive updates concerning this new attraction in Orlando. The site, officialorlandoeye.com offers everything you need to know about this Orlando attraction. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Their Facebook page is another way to keep up with the latest updates.

New restaurants continue to open in the I-Drive 360 entertainment area where the Orlando Eye is located. Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Outback Steakhouse were the first to open and offer a great atmosphere. Carrabba’s is huge with 7,800 square feet. The dining room offers family tables and an open kitchen. The bar is modern and mixes traditional and contemporary design inspired by an Italian decor. Outback Steakhouse will also step it up with a “modern Australia” design both inside and out.

If you are planning a visit to Orlando, be sure to check out the I-Drive area. There is a lot to do here and more being planned. Another attraction in the works for this entertainment complex is SKYPLEX. Claiming that it will be the world’s tallest roller coaster, The Skyscraper™. It is named that, because it takes up very little space on the ground, but is 570 feet tall! Next to it is the Orlando Eye – a 400-foot tall observation wheel which opened in the first half of 2015. The huge observation wheel provides a view you’ll want to keep your eye on and not miss out.