I-Drive Has It All | Other Orlando


  • Not so long ago, only out-of-town visitors went to Orlando's famous International Drive. But now everyone goes there. And why not? It has “absolutely everything to offer,” as one visiting blogger put it.

    In fact, I-Drive has become such a single attraction that visitors might want to spend their entire stay right here. Is that a serious option?

    Thrill rides. Here. Shopping. Here. Dining. Fast food to gourmet. Daytime entertainment? Nighttime? Both here and constantly expanding.

    So where do you stay when exhausted by all this activity? You don’t need to find a friend’s bed when there are upwards of three dozen hotels advertising that they are near I-Drive.

     

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    The latest moves to I-Drive: a new supermarket and a 1,500-foot-long zipline.

    Then later will join Skyscraper, the world's tallest roller coaster under development on I-Drive.

    Convenience stores have been common on the drive but they will be joined by the first brand-name grocery store here. It’s a 17,000-square-foot supermarket to be built in the Orlando Crossings Mall behind Perfumeland and the Nascar indoor kart-racing track.

    Here’s is how one amazed blogger describes a first-time experience at the Drive:

    “There is the Festival Bay Complex now rebranded as Artegon Complex (local artists, shops & movie theater). Going south there are more complexes of stores on the left & right,” etc.
    The description then goes on to detail the watery theme park Wet ‘n’ Wild, a skydiving experience right here on earth, a large complex of restaurants including one with its own winery, Madam Tausaud’s Wax Museum, a tavern with 120 choices of beer, miniature golf, helicopter rides, movie theatres, and finally outlet centers.

    The area is also home to the Orange County Convention Center, the Pointe Orlando entertainment complex and Sea World Orlando.

    I-Drive itself says it offers “six of the world’s greatest theme parks,” which is not entirely true because they a short distance away, 100 “fantastic” hotels and resorts, 485 stores, 150 restaurants, three stadium style movie theatres, and more. The biggest complaint about the 11.1 mile-long drive has been traffic. But the former four lane drive has been extended in parts to six lanes. There’s also bus transportation that helps ease traffic, and a shuttle, the I-Ride Trolley

    Orlando’s other major theme park, Universal, is so close to the area that some visitors walk (not recommended with traffic as it is).

    I-Drive dates back to the 1960s when attorney Finley Hamilton laid out the route for his Hilton Inn South Hotel. Hamilton imagined that motorists traveling I-4 to Walt Disney World, opening in October of 1971, would detour to his offer of a more inexpensive hotel. Hardly anyone believed him. “Finley’s Folly,” it was called..

    Today, the best advice for residents and visitors is to park and take the I-Drive trolley. You can’t buy a pass on the vehicle itself but you can purchase one at over 100 locations along the drive. It’s only $5 per person.

    You won’t find a bigger bargain at any theme park.

    Speaking of which…sure, you could spend your entire stay here, but would you really want to miss out on Disney and all the rest of what the area has to offer? ###