I-Drive’s Popularity is Fighting Back with New Attractions
If like most of us, your very first visit to Orlando was through a tour operator’s package deal, you will probably remember I-Drive with very mixed feelings!
Long before the internet, tourists relied almost entirely on travel agents and their ‘fly drive hotel’ deals to make that very first Disney vacation a reality. Once the most popular destination, stiff competition has since transformed the vacation industry entirely, as we can now ‘piece together’ our own custom vacations.
Armed now with glorious hindsight, those tired, cramped and badly maintained I-Drive rooms of yesteryear weren’t quite as magical as our excited imaginations lead us to believe.
Interestingly, and certainly no coincidence, the world wide web has forced every corner of tourism to take a look at itself and tidy up acts (including cleaning those awful carpets!).
While some of the old ‘budget’ hotels have remained on I-Drive, many new have appeared, offering better rooms, suites and facilities, more in keeping with modern expectations.
I-Drive does not get things easy though. Faced with large investments for new construction and refits of existing hotels, the theme parks have also been polishing their offerings.
With dozens of ‘on site’ resort accommodations on offer, both Disney and Universal have cashed in on their dining packages and courtesy transportation services that allow guests to really chill out and enjoy a mad few weeks of fantasy!
With further pressure coming from Orlando’s Villa and Rental home market, which enjoys a strong, steady growth of the accommodation split, things are looking tough for those I-Drive Hotels.
One thing is for sure, the visitor numbers are growing, people are spending more, and there’s a shift upmarket to more upscale and ‘value added offerings’ in the Orlando visitor profile. With the cost of an average Disney vacation rising strongly, the chances of a truly ‘cheap’ Disney vacation are now almost impossible.
New Modern Attractions to Rescue I-Drive?
I-Drive is not set to become a ‘museum piece’ however. The place still has a buzz about it and thanks to a lot of new activity over recent years, is fighting the theme parks back!
I-Drive’s shopping facilites have improved considerably since the old ‘Beltz retail park days’ and the newer Premium Outlets site offers a handy place for shoppers to grab bargains and a meal.
But if you aren’t blowing lots of cash in the theme parks for several days of the vacation, you need affordable entertainment!
With mini golf courses every few hundred yards, indoor sky diving experiences such as I-Fly there’s a wide range of activities for families that range from ‘affordable’ to ‘luxury pricing’.
In the middle of all this, Fun Spot America steps in with their ambitious ‘mini theme park’ area to the northern end of I-Drive. With their unmissable ‘SkyCoaster’ the landscape has recently changed as the owners ploughed heavily into the future of I-Drive.
To set aside $25m, you need to be confident and that’s precisely what Fun Spot feel about I-Drive it seems. The effect is undoubtedly ‘win-win’ as the exciting new park draws in visitors, the surrounding hotels, shops, bars, restaurants, shows and mini golf courses prosper.
Fun Spot are in some ways, creating a localised mini version of ‘Orlando’s Disney Effect’.
As Fun Spot, I-Drive Live and many other new ventures invest in the International Drive area, this lively and important area will continue to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Orlando!