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2015 Preview: 10 Most Anticipated Orlando Venues for Meetings and Events

The conference spaces, eateries, drinking spots, and more slated to open in Orlando for events and entertaining next year.

By Mitra Sorrells December 30, 2014, 7:45 AM EST

Orlando Eye

Rendering: Courtesy of I-Drive 360

Looking for a new venue to host your next event? Here are the most anticipated Orlando restaurants, corporate event venues, hotels, conference centers, and private and party rooms to open next year. These new and renovated Orlando venues can accommodate groups large or small for private and corporate events, conferences, meetings, weddings, business dinners, teambuilding activities, cocktail parties, and more.

1. The Orlando Eye will be the centerpiece of the new I-Drive 360 entertainment, dining, and retail complex just north of the Orange County Convention Center. Scheduled to open in the spring, the 400-foot-high observation wheel will have 30 air-conditioned capsules that each hold 15 people. The ride will last 20 minutes and offer views of the Orlando attractions and downtown to as far away as the Kennedy Space Center and beaches. Corporate groups will be able to rent one or more capsules for private events. On the ground, there will be several spaces available for events. Groups can use the Terminal Building, which seats 700 people or holds 1,200 for receptions, or the smaller Hospitality Room, which seats 50 or holds 80 for receptions. There will also be a large outdoor event space with an elaborate water show with synchronized music and lights.

2. Las Vegas-based restaurant and candy store Sugar Factory will open at I-Drive 360 in March. The 7,000-square-foot venue will have a variety of options for events, including private dining and custom cakes and goodie bags. The restaurant will seat 400 people. Sugar Factory is known for a huge menu with offerings from flatbreads, steaks, burgers, and pastas to fondue, crepes, milkshakes, sundaes, and specialty cocktails. A retail store will sell colorful confections and gifts.

3. Madame Tussauds will open at I-Drive 360 this spring. The 25,000-square-foot museum will feature dozens of lifelike wax statues of celebrities and historical figures. There will be a variety of options for private events and groups.

4. New-York based McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon will open its only Florida location in March at I-Drive 360. The restaurant will seat 400 people inside and on two patios. There will also be private event space. For buyouts, the 12,000-square-foot venue will hold as many as 1,200 people.

5. A 25,000-square-foot Sea Life Aquarium will open this spring at I-Drive 360. The facility will have more than 5,000 sea creatures including colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, and more in floor-to-ceiling displays, bubble aquariums, and underwater tunnels. Groups will be able to book private events that include interactive, educational experiences.

6. Cowgirls country bar is scheduled to open in March in the I-Drive 360 complex. The 7,000-square-foot venue will seat about 400 people or hold 800 people for receptions. It will have a full menu and bar, plus a DJ and mechanical bull for entertainment.

7. The automotive-theme Ace Cafe will open downtown this spring, making it the first United States location for the London-based company. The complex will include a two-story, 14,000-square-foot building housing a restaurant, bars, a stage, and multipurpose rooms, along with a large shaded courtyard and a separate 6,500-square-foot event barn.

8. At the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes, Whisper Creek Kitchen will open in the spring. The restaurant will seat about 100 people inside and 60 on a patio and serve food prepared with items from Whisper Creek Farm, the resort’s fruit and vegetable garden.

9. The first venues open this year at Disney Springs, the dining, shopping, and entertainment complex that is replacing Downtown Disney. The Boathouse, an upscale waterfront restaurant scheduled to open this spring, will have two private dining rooms and three bars. It will also offer live music, rides on a 40-foot wooden water taxi, and guided Amphicar rides that launch from land, enter the water, and take guests on a 20-minute tour of the landmarks of Disney Springs. The menu will be focused on traditional American fare such as steaks, seafood, chops, and a raw bar.

10. Also at Disney Springs, Morimoto Asia is being developed in partnership with chef Masaharu Morimoto, best known for his work on the show Iron Chef. The two-story restaurant that will have open terraces, a grand hall, private rooms, a cocktail lounge, and waterside seating. Guests will be able to watch chefs prepare a variety of Asian dishes in show kitchens once the restaurant opens this summer.

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