Tag Archives: Interstate 4

Florida DOT Using Billboards to Connect With Central Florida I-4 Drivers

Drivers along Interstate 4 in the Orlando metro area may notice new billboard signs installed which remind motorists the I-4 Ultimate project is soon underway in 2015.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has been acquiring right of way along the interstate necessary to construct the I-4 Ultimate project for almost a decade. Through this process, FDOT has acquired the property where several billboards are located. The billboard companies [Clear Channel Outdoor, Lamar Advertising and Outfront Media (formerly CBS Outdoor)] have been compensated for the acquisition and were allowed to continue displaying advertising through a leasing program with FDOT. Now that design of the I-4 Ultimate project has begun, FDOT will assume control of the billboards it owns. The billboards are located at:

  • Grand National Drive and Oakridge Road – A V-shaped sign on the right side of eastbound I-4.
  • I-4 and Orange Blossom Trail – A single-faced sign on the right side of I-4 along the eastbound ramp.
  • I-4 and Michigan Avenue – A single-faced sign on the left side of I-4 along the westbound ramp.
  • I-4 and Formosa Avenue and Minnesota Avenue – A V-shaped sign on the left side of westbound I-4.
  • I-4 and State Road 436 – A V-shaped sign on the right side of eastbound I-4.

Each of these billboards is located in the FDOT-owned right of way and will need to be removed as I-4 is widened. The exact timeline is not yet known — the billboards may need to be removed soon after construction begins, or may be able to remain well into construction.

To increase public awareness of the I-4 Ultimate project and the changes about to occur, FDOT intends to use these billboards in the meantime for project-specific messages. FDOT terminated the leases with the advertising agencies and provided Clear Channel Outdoor, Lamar Advertising and Outfront Media with a 30-day notice to relinquish the space.

It is important to note that FDOT owns these billboards and has made the cost-effective decision to use space it already owns to provide information to Central Floridians. FDOT is not purchasing any advertising space, and the only cost associated with this outreach campaign is the production and installation of the vinyl for the billboards.

During I-4 construction, and always, motorists are reminded to pay attention to road conditions, buckle up, and don’t text and drive.

Danny’s All American Diner – Tampa, FL

Don’t let the location or appearance fool you, it’s a small old-fashioned snack bar. Outdoor seating, covered with umbrellas, and a walk-up window. The staff is friendly, ordering was a quick and they brought our food right to our table.

The food was excellent. I had a wonderful Cuban sandwich and my wife had an awesome burger.

Prices were very reasonable. I’ll be back!

Danny’s All American Diner – Tampa, Florida (I-4, exit 9 to I-75 exit 260)

Photo Update: I-Drive 360 Construction Continues, Spring Grand Opening Anticipated

Construction of “I-Drive 360”, a new entertainment, dining and shopping complex continues. The Orlando Eye’s outer wheel is now complete and the 30 passenger capsules remain to be installed. Each cabin can hold 15 passengers. Once completed, guests will enjoy the 360-degree views above the hustle and bustle of the Central Florida below. Every cabin will offer guests the comfort of air-conditioning, bench seating, lighting and audio effects for the 20-minute flight experience.

The complex will include attractions, restaurants and retail stores. In addition to “The Orlando Eye” other major attractions will include a 25,000 sq. ft. Sea Life Aquarium, an equally sized Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Skeletons: A Museum of Osteology.

Some features of the project are already completed, and others a well underway.

The highly anticipated entertainment destination, located on 20 acres of property between International Drive and Universal Boulevard is scheduled for a Spring 2015 grand opening.

Here’s our photo update of the construction, taken 12/18/14…

I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
The outer wheel of the Orlando Eye is now complete… the passenger cabins remain to be installed. Several restaurants are now open for business!


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Workers install the signing for the seven-story parking garage… and parking is FREE!


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Yard House – Great Food, Classic Rock and 130 to 250 Taps of Imported, Craft and Specialty Ales and Lagers… one of several new restaurants now open at I-Drive 360.


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Outback Steakhouse – Australian themed steakhouse restaurant… one of several new restaurants now open at I-Drive 360.


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Workers put the finishing touches on Tin Roof Orlando… Live Music, Great Food and Good Times. Opening very soon!


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Another look at workers preparing the exterior of Tin Roof Orlando… Opening very soon!


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Opening Early 2015… The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Wax Attraction and Orlando SeaLife Aquarium.


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
There’s beautiful landscaping, fountains and water features everywhere you look… the amenities really set I-Drive 360 apart from other attractions in the area.


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Workers finish up on the exterior of the main building housing The Orlando Eye terminal, Madame Tussauds Wax Attraction and SeaLife Aquarium.


I-Drive 360 | The I-4 Exit Guide | www.i4exitguide.com
Now that the Orlando Eye is almost at it’s maximum height, you can see it from points all around the Orlando area… including I-4… a very impressive sight!



For I-4 traveler information, including exit listing, real-time traffic reports, gas prices and more, visit www.i4exitguide.com

I-4 Ultimate Construction Project Ready to Begin

I-4 Ultimate is an important project for Central Florida. The 21-mile makeover — from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to east of State Road 434 in Seminole County — will transform the region while connecting our communities, improving our economy and enhancing livability for everyone.

The goal of I-4 Ultimate is to create a signature corridor that connects communities, improves economies and enhances livability throughout the region. I-4 Ultimate is designed to reflect the best of Central Florida’s local context, history, unique community character and landscaping. Explore this section of the website to learn more about how this distinctive and memorable design will reinforce mobility, enhance the driver’s experience, engage communities and maximize accessibility.


The I-4 Ultimate project is going to completely revamp the face of Central Florida. Most importantly, it will improve traffic flow by easing congestion. Some exciting things to look forward to include:

  • Four new tolled Express Lanes (two in each direction)
  • Thirteen widened bridges, 74 replaced bridges and 53 new bridges
  • Fifteen reconstructed major interchanges
  • A world-class signature pedestrian bridge
  • Accent lighting
  • Fountain illumination
  • Art sculptures and monuments
  • Bold landscape design
  • Monumental direct-connect pylons
  • Bridge architecture
  • Concrete paving
  • Steel tub girders
  • Architectural cladding


FDOT is at the forefront of technological innovations and is shaping the way departments of transportation across the country generate new and better value for every transportation dollar invested. The I-4 Ultimate project is no exception. FDOT demanded innovation, and I-4 Mobility Partners delivered, offering 25 approved alternative technical concepts (innovative ideas) and 27 project technical enhancements (enhanced features).

Alternative technical concepts are proposed changes to basic configurations, the project scope, design criteria or construction criteria and provide an approach that is equal to or better than the requirements requested by FDOT. For I-4 Ultimate, I-4 Mobility Partners’ alternative technical concepts focus on:

  • Providing greater traffic flow reliability with auxiliary lanes and added movements
  • Providing greater consistency in driver expectancy and reduced travel times
  • Enhancing driver safety with sight distance improvements and alignments
  • Providing better community connections
  • Incorporating sustainability features, such as reutilized and recycled materials
  • Using better technology to improve long-term operations

Sound Abatement

The I-4 Ultimate project may include construction of sound barriers to help reduce sound between the interstate and adjacent neighborhoods. Many factors determine sound barrier locations. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) conducted multiple noise studies for the 21-mile I-4 project. Currently, eight locations in Orange and Seminole counties are eligible for sound barriers. A majority of property owners adjacent to the proposed barriers indicated their support for them when surveyed by FDOT. Based upon the completed noise studies, construction of sound barriers is considered for eight residential communities adjacent to I-4.

Historic Preservation

Central Florida is rich in history, with hundreds of buildings, districts and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several of these places are within the project limits of I-4 Ultimate, including the town of Eatonville, Griffin Park and the Holden-Parramore Historic District. The team’s design was developed with historic preservation in mind, so impacts to these important areas will be lessened.

Once I-4 Ultimate is complete, the corridor will be a celebration of local history and heritage and will serve as a true reminder of what makes Central Florida unique. – See more at: http://i4ultimate.com/project-info/special-features/#sthash.paS76J4w.dpuf

For I-4 traveler information, including exit listing, real-time traffic reports, gas prices and more, visit www.i4exitguide.com

More Concept Renderings of the New Orlando Sea Life Aquarium

Orlando Sea Life Aquarium will offer a new wave of underwater adventures with beautiful displays of colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more, that turn the traditional aquarium observation
on its head.

Winding tunnels, floor-to-ceiling tanks and bubble aquariums provide an immersive experience for children and adults alike. Additionally, the aquarium, known for its strong conservation efforts, will have unique educational components for young marine life enthusiasts.

Orlando Sea Life Aquarium will include a 360 degree Ocean Tunnel, More than 5,000 creatures, a Touchpool experience, Interactive “Talking Aquarium” Educational Talks and Feeds, you can even see how they breed, rescue and protect creatures and how the Sea Life Trust is working to preserve our oceans for generations to come.

Orlando Sea Life Aquarium is located in the heart of Orlando at I-Drive 360 next to Madame Tussauds Orlando and The Orlando Eye. All three attractions will open Spring 2015! Explore the amazing creatures of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans!


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Sea Life Orlando will have a 360 degree underwater ocean tunnel, a new, immersive way for guests to view marine life in their own habitats.


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Sea Life Orlando Aquarium will have an interactive touch pool allowing visitors to have an immersive and educational experience with starfish, hermit crabs, and more!


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Sea Life Orlando will have over 5,000 creatures and over 30 fascinating displays when they open in spring of 2015!


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Sea Life Orlando Aquarium will have over 5,000 creatures and over 30 fascinating displays when we they in spring of 2015!


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
At SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, you’ll be able to explore the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans and their amazing creatures!


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Sea Life Orlando will have a variety of different species of jellyfish. They’ll be housed in cylindrical tanks with moving water that mimics the ocean’s tides and currents!


Sea Life Orlando | I-4 Exit Guide
Another concept rendering that will give you a good idea of what will be in store for you when you visit Sea Life Orlando Aquarium!


Visit Sea Life Orlando Aquarium’s Official website: http://www.visitsealife.com/orlando/

Artegon Marketplace Grand Opening This Weekend

Starting Thursday, November 20, and running through Saturday, November 22, Orlando’s Artegon Marketplace will be celebrating its grand opening with a full schedule of live entertainment throughout the property.

Guests will be treated to continuous live entertainment ranging from African acrobats to the Blues Brothers and will be among the first to experience Artegon’s expansive “Sky Trail” ropes course
and collection of 165 artisanal shops and stores featuring locally sourced products and services.

The full line-up of grand opening festivities also includes:
– Street Beatz, an urban musical rhythmic experience.
– Anti-Gravity, an acrobatic show featuring athletic and dance performers.
– Street Breakz, a high energy audience participation breakdance show.
– Caricaturists, henna and jawa tattoo painters, and canvas airbrush artists.
– Stilt-walkers, power jumpers, cirque acts and other edgy performers.
– Radio remotes with K92FM, XL 106.7, Rumba 100.3 and MAGIC 107.7.
– Complimentary swag bag for the first 200 guests.

Artegon Marketplace Orlando is a new shopping concept for the region inspired by such famous marketplaces as Seattle’s Pike Place, Boston’s Faneuil Hall, New York’s Chelsea Market and the London Flower Market. Located in the former Festival Bay Mall, it was redeveloped by Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC, considered one of the most influential and forward-thinking development firms in the nation’s retail real estate industry.

Unique to the shopping attraction is Florida’s largest daily indoor artisan marketplace. The Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando houses 165 artisanal shops and stores where local craftspeople
sell and demonstrate their products and services. They include Florida Soap Company, Poca’s Hottest, Vagabond Traveler, David Ramirez Chocolates and Kathryn McHenry of SOS Art Studio,2
along with a variety of other one-of-a-kind artisans offering eco-friendly handbags and accessories, jewelry, sculpture, mixed media artwork, custom clothing and locally-sourced foods. Complementing The Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando are some of the biggest brands in dining and retail. These anchor tenants include Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cinemark Theaters, Sheplers Western Stores, Radbourne Center, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill and Berghoff’s Oktoberfest. The latter two venues are scheduled to open by spring 2015. Rounding out the guest experience are more than 20 in-line retailers. Highlights include GODS & MONSTERS, the first high-end innovative comics and collectibles store of its kind in the country, and the nation’s first International Hot Glass, a glass gallery showcasing artists from around the world and a studio where guests can work with a professional glass blower to create their own
piece of art.

Paragon Outlet Partners designed Artegon Marketplace Orlando to be a highly immersive and interactive experience unlike any other in Central Florida. Beyond the artisan marketplace, anchor
tenants and in-line retailers, other defining features include:

– The Great Hall with an expansive “Sky Trail” ropes course (paid admission) and a variety of food offerings, from coffee and Danish to pizza, sandwiches and salads.
– Free Wi-Fi both indoors and in the outdoor plaza areas.
– Caricaturists, henna and jawa tattoo painters, canvas airbrush artists and other edgy performers.
– Streetmosphere performers, from jugglers to singers to stilt walkers, strolling throughout the shopping attraction on weekends.
– An industrial-chic environment punctuated by heavy wooden support beams, exposed brick and weathered steel.

Operating hours are 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sunday. Artisan studios will be open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and noon – 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Artegon Marketplace Orlando is located at 5250 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 with easy access for local residents via W. Oak Ridge Road, Sand Lake Road, and other alternatives to I-4.

World’s Tallest StarFlyer Swing Ride Coming to International Drive

International Drive keeps growing and growing. You can already marvel at the huge Orlando Eye observation wheel being built, now another ride rivaling its height is coming next door. A StarFlyer swing ride will take riders up 420 feet.

Unicorp National Developments, the company behind the I-Drive 360 complex, announced the new ride today, and a new name for the complex which houses Kings Bowling, Sleuths and other stores next door to I-Drive 360. The plaza will be known as Vue at 360, a play on the 360 degree view riders will have on the StarFlyer.

This will be the second StarFlyer on International Drive. There’s a 230-foot one operating just down the street at Magic Midway. But this new one will be the tallest in the world at 420 feet. (The Orlando Eye will be approximately 425 feet tall.)

The StarFlyer is expected to open in late 2015 or early 2016. It will take riders up in 12 sets of double seats (24 total) on a three to four minute ride. A ride is expected to cost about $10 per person.

Here’s a look at the Sky Screamer at Six Flags New England. It stands approximately 400 feet tall:

Orlando Eye Construction On Track for a Spring 2015 Opening

With the inner wheel of the Orlando Eye now complete, construction of the massive outer wheel is about to begin.

Merlin Entertainments Ltd. plans to debut three attractions, The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando Wax Museum and Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, as part of a massive project being developed by Orlando-based Unicorp National Developments Inc. and New York-based Circle Entertainment Inc.

Once completed, the Orlando Eye will weigh about three million pounds. It will provide unobstructed views of the Orlando skyline, Central Florida theme parks, and on a clear day, the east coast and Kennedy Space Center. The giant wheel will include 30 capsules which can each hold 15 people. Riding the wheel will lasts 20 minutes and include a pre-flight five-minute film in 3-D.

The projected opening for these attractions is Spring 2014.

Bok Tower Gardens to Breaks Ground on $12 Million Expansion

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales will break ground on Friday, October 24 on a $12 million expansion… the largest expansion in its 85-year history.

Components of the expansion will include pathwork, Tower and Gardens restoration, and several new garden spaces including a Children’s Garden, Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden, Wild Garden and Pollinator Garden.

The new 2.7-acre Children’s Garden will be a place of hands-on fun, natural beauty, learning, and creative play. There will be beautiful art, cooling water features, vibrant plantings, a boardwalk, performance stage, and music area. Children will have things to climb on, under and through, as well as places to build, dig and create.

Adjacent to the Children’s Garden will be a new Outdoor Kitchen and Edible Garden that connects farm to table. Lake Flato Architects of San Antonio has designed an inviting outdoor open kitchen space in harmony with the landscape. Edible display gardens surrounding the kitchen will be a welcoming destination for daytime or nighttime educational programs and events showcasing lifestyle gardening and the culinary arts.

Seven acres of the northern garden are being transformed into a haven for wildlife and native plants. The expanded Wild Garden, encompassing the existing Window by the Pond and Endangered Plant Garden, will showcase a variety of Florida native plants and landscapes including an oak hammock, wet prairie, sandhill preserve, wetland and bog. A 170-foot boardwalk through this area will provide visitors with an immersive experience into the new landscape.

A gentle grade to a spectacular new oval walkway and special event lawn is being constructed behind the Visitor Center to help guests more easily find their way to Pinewood Estate, the Singing Tower, and the new expansion gardens to the north. This new gateway also features expanded outdoor cafe seating and a pollinator garden to attract birds and butterflies.

The expansion is scheduled to be complete by late spring of 2016.

Disney’s Flamingo Crossings Hotels Break Ground

An Alaska-based developer broke ground today on a 248-room Marriott Springhill Suites and the 250-room Marriott TownePlace Suites at Disney’s Flamingo Crossings, a mixed-use tourist district planned on the western edge of Disney property. The developer also has plans to build seven hotels on the property within the next four or five years.

Flamingo Crossings will combine third-party branded lodging, retail and dining in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Located directly off Florida Route 429 (exit 8) this 450-acre mixed-use value-oriented tourist district will support value-oriented and limited-service hotels, 1,000 to 1,500 timeshare units, 300 to 500 thousand sq. ft. of tourist-related retail, casual sit-down and fast-food restaurants, gas/convenience, grocery, gift shops,and other tourist-oriented service.