By Mitra Sorrells Posted January 28, 2014, 7:30 AM EST
ORLANDO Here's a look at the most anticipated Orlando restaurants, hotels, party rooms, corporate event venues, conference centers, and private rooms to open this year. These new and renovated Orlando venues can accommodate groups large or small for private and corporate events, meetings, business dinners, cocktail parties, conferences, weddings, and more.
1. The long-awaited $500 million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has scheduled a series of grand opening events for early November. The 330,000-square-foot facility in downtown Orlando will house two performance theaters, a community theater, an outdoor plaza and performance space, and classrooms. The majority of the facility will be available for rental for meetings and other private events.
2. Four Seasons Resort Orlando will open August 3 on the grounds of Walt Disney World. The hotel will have a 37,750-square-foot conference center with a dedicated drop-off area. The largest venue will be a 14,000-square-foot ballroom. There will also be two options for outdoor events for as many as 720 guests. The resort will have a rooftop restaurant, a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, and a spa.
3. Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside Islands of Adventure is a popular location for corporate social events, and this year the park is expanding the environment into the adjacent Universal Studios Florida theme park. Guests will be able to travel between Hogsmeade, the original attraction, and the new Diagon Alley and “London” aboard the Hogwarts Express train. The area will include shops, a restaurant, and a ride, “Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts.” Diagon Alley is scheduled to open this summer.
4. South Beach mainstay Mango’s Tropical Café comes to Orlando this year. The dining and entertainment venue is known for its live music and exotic choreographed dance shows. The 55,000-square-foot International Drive location is scheduled to open in the fall and will have a private room for as many as 500 people. The entire venue will be available for buyout and will accommodate 2,500 people.
5. Universal Orlando’s newest hotel will open its first of two phases by late March. Cabana Bay Beach Resort is being designed to look like an iconic beach resort from the 1950s and '60s. The hotel will have 900 guest rooms and 900 family suites, each with colorful, retro decor. The property will also have a 10-lane bowling alley, two pools, and a lazy river.
6. Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, opening July 7 on International Drive, will have four distinct components under one roof: an upscale, casual dining restaurant, a full-service bar, a private barrel-aging room, and a Napa-style tasting room and retail gift store. The venue will also have a private dining room for 50 people and two patios.
7. Yard House, a national chain of casual restaurants, will open its first Orlando location this spring in the Orlando Eye complex on International Drive. At nearly 14,000 square feet, the restaurant will have seating for almost 400 people. The menu will include sandwiches, tacos, burgers, seafood, steaks, and ribs, along with more than 125 beers on draft.
8. The B Resort will open near Downtown Disney this spring. The property, formerly the Royal Plaza Hotel, will have nearly 400 guest rooms and suites and more than 25,000 square feet of flexible function space that will accommodate as many as 750 people for banquets and 1,000 theater-style. Catering menus will be designed by China Grill Management, and a separate banquet kitchen will allow for the hosting of kosher and other culturally authentic functions.
9. A $25 million renovation project is transforming Tampa’s historic courthouse into Le Méridien Tampa. The hotel, scheduled to open in July, will have 108 guest rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and meeting space. The renovation is preserving many of the building's original architectural elements, including the neoclassical marble and terrazzo lobby and oak-framed windows and doors.
10. I-Drive Indoor Kart Racing is scheduled to open this spring and will offer a variety of activities for teambuilding. Guests will be able to race high-performance go-karts inside the 65,000-square-foot climate-controlled facility. The complex will also include bowling, arcade games, a restaurant, and meeting rooms.