Merlin Entertainments is already building Legoland Florida outside of Orlando, now they’ve announced plans to open a Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and build a 425-foot-tall Orlando Eye observation wheel in a new shopping center on International Drive.
I-Walk Orlando will be a new development of retail, restaurants and entertainment facilities scheduled to open in 2013 in the former Mercado location, just down the street from Pointe Orlando, which itself is in the process of being bought by Blackstone Group, the parent company of Merlin Entertainments. Blackstone also owns SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and part of Universal Orlando.
In 2008, another company announced plans to bring a 400 foot wheel” to Orlando. The wheel was to be located on behind the Orange County Convention Center. Those plans were suspended in 2009 with no further word on the plan moving forward.
The Mercado shopping center was the home to a Guinness Book of World Records museum and a Hard Rock Vault museum. Both of those businesses closed along with other shops and restaurants in the plaza. Titanic The Experience was also located in the Mercado before it moved to its new location down the street. The Mercado was ultimately demolished.
Merlin is working with Circle Entertainment and developer Unicorp to bring at least three of its best known global attraction brands to Orlando. The third has not been named yet.
“I-Walk Orlando will be a very exciting addition to International Drive, providing a unique mix of leisure and retail activities,” ” said Paul Kanavos, president of Circle Entertainment. “When we were looking for a partner, Merlin was the obvious place to start and we welcome them to I-Walk.”
“We are so pleased to undertake this extraordinary new development opportunity that will re-shape the landscape of International Drive,” said Unicorp President Chuck Whittall. “We waited patiently for four years to create the ideal retail and entertainment destination. This is it and will be a world wide destination. I-Walk Orlando has secured all necessary zoning and entitlements.”