Monday, August 5, 2013
After picking up some artwork at Drip, I went to have some pizza at Uno's Chicago Grill (8250 International Drive Orlando, FL). I've been inside Uno's before, but only when it was full of zombies. I searched for the cheapest single serving pizza I could find on the menu and it still was about $9. I quickly sketched the interior while I waited for the pizza to arrive. I asked the waiter about all the construction going on across the street on International Drive. A large one block area had been leveled just north of Ripley's Believe it or Not. Apparently a very large aquarium is being build which would certainly bring in the tourist crowd.
Over the next two years, more than a 500 million dollars worth of new projects are planned and visitors will be able to view it all from the 425 foot-high Orlando Eye which is scheduled to open in summer 2014. The $250 redevelopment of the former Mercado site also plans to include Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Sea Life Aquarium, 232,850 square feet of retail, restaurants and entertainment.
At the heart of the new project is the Orlando Eye, a long-in-the-works observation wheel inspired by the iconic London Eye found along the Thames Embankment. A 425-foot tall observation wheel (actually three feet taller than its London counterpart) will serve as the centerpiece of the entertainment district, allowing guests to experience a near-30 minute journey into the Orlando air to see the city’s unique skyline. Of course people could see the Orlando skyline a whole lot better if the went downtown, but that is just crazy talk. Who would want to leave International Drive if it has a Ferris Wheel and an aquarium?
Early signers in the food and beverage department have begun to reveal themselves. Red Robin, Outback Steakhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings and Carrabba’s Italian Grill are existing Central Florida franchises that will have new locations within I-Drive Live. Concepts new to the area include Cooper’s Hawk Winery, Chuy’s Tex-Mex Restaurant, and Seafood Republic, Orlando restaurateur Bobby Moore’s latest project for the area.It looks like Uno's is going to have stiff competition in 2014.