Orange County approves Skyplex in Orlando

Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2015 8:11 PM | Contributed by Jeff

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a rezoning request for the proposed Skyplex Orlando development on International Drive. The decision was made after more than 40 people spoke Tuesday during a nearly three-hour public hearing.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 8:45 PM

I felt like I was the only one who believed this was going to happen!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015 10:55 PM

It's not built yet. $500MM is a lot of financing to line up.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 7:06 AM

I still find it interesting that Universal has a significant concern regarding the Skyplex. Financially, this one (technically two now) ride cannot possibly take enough money from Universal for there to be a concern. The only things I can figure are:

1) Universal's future plans include branching out into that area. Since they're looking at almost 500 acres only two miles away, it makes sense that they'd want to put a hotel near a shiny new theme park, and maybe this is right smack in the middle of where they were eventually planning on going.

2) It was mentioned that Universal's height restrictions were 200 feet, so what were/are they planning to build that would have needed above 200 feet? Think about it: Universal is not going to complain that it's just not fair someone else gets a bigger toy than they do unless they were denied planning for something huge or they were going to propose building something huge to dominate the skyline. What are they cooking up in that lab??

3) Universal is concerned that this company is going to expand beyond a world famous tower and give them more direct competition down the line. I can't imagine that this is legitimate, given the finances for the project aren't there yet, whereas Universal was able to throw half a billion dollars at one theme park section and make their money back in less than 2 years. A roller coaster, even the tallest in the world, may lose its appeal or have significantly limited appeal, especially since they're working on putting these towers in a few places in the US.

I really still hope for the coaster to get built though, as much as I am a crazy Universal fangirl. It's neat, it really is. Capacity though...ugh. *grin*

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 8:18 AM

Anything that distracts a tourist from spending even a few hours in your theme park is certainly a concern. If they aren't spending money on your property, they're spending it somewhere else.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 10:16 AM

This complex isn't competition for the parks by any real stretch. However, the SkyPlex complex IS going to be heavy competition to CityWalk. And they're building a Hotel there. Why not just walk right thru CityWalk at the end of the day and go to the other newer entertainment complex with at least 2 record breaking rides, have dinner, go dancing, and stay there, just in eyeshot of Universal...

Capacity though...ugh. *grin*

I look at this more along the lines of the Vegas coasters & attractions. It'll be priced high enough that capacity won't be a major issue.

Last edited by Tekwardo, Wednesday, December 2, 2015 10:17 AM
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 11:46 AM

I think of ascetics*. Being at a Universal park and looking up to see a huge attraction off-property is not appealing for the designers who work so hard at deciding what you see. That's probably a much more minor issue than keeping money inside the park though.

*Of course I meant aesthetics. Always proofread before submitting. Thanks Tek, I think.

Last edited by LostKause, Sunday, December 6, 2015 12:49 AM
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 12:37 PM

LostKause said:
I think of ascetics.

I do not think that word means what you think it means. Pretty sure the ascetics don't vacay in Orlando ;-).

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 1:45 PM

Based on the content of his post, I assume he meant aesthetics. And seeing a huge tower in the background of some of Universals themes can be aesthetically displeasing. I saw a photoshopped image of the tower in the background of Harry Potter land somewhere on the Internet yesterday, I'll see if I can find it. Here it is:

Last edited by Thabto, Wednesday, December 2, 2015 1:59 PM
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 2:10 PM

That's a cute picture, but honestly, the sightlines from within the park where you could see it are minimal. The new on-site hotel will be more visible, if at all.

Last edited by Jeff, Wednesday, December 2, 2015 2:11 PM
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 3:11 PM

I assume he meant aesthetics

Yeah, ascetic was funny to be pointed out...

Hence my comment about them likely not vacationing in Orlando.

When you have to explain the joke...

Last edited by Tekwardo, Wednesday, December 2, 2015 3:12 PM
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 7:38 PM

Isn't this only just one hurdle they need to cross? I thought last I heard they still haven't secured the funding for it.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 7:59 PM

Maybe the ascetics will fund it.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015 8:42 PM

I think they're more concerned with Noah's Ark .

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Thursday, December 3, 2015 9:20 PM

Universal hates poor ascetics.

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Sunday, December 6, 2015 1:11 AM

I had to look up the word ascetics to see what it even means. I have never read or heard it used before today, and I read a lot.

But yeah, the joke is really funny.

Thabto elaborated on my idea. While I don't think that's what the park is thinking about, the picture Thabto posted is something I would not like to see.

I haven't been there in ages, but I assume that the new King Kong attraction will be visible from Toon Lagoon? And I assume that one can see Hogwarts from Jurassic Park River Adventure? So maybe he integrity of the artist placement of the attractions is not the main concern of Universal, but I'd dislike seeing a giant tower on I-Drive casting a shadow over The Pharos Lighthouse.

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Monday, December 7, 2015 1:16 AM

I think I'm ascetic, but didn't mean to be.

Anyway, I've always looked at Universal as a different kind of theme park, aesthetically speaking. While the theming at the parks is top-notch I've always viewed it as a you-can-see-it-from-the-road kind of place. And true to its roots, the original Studios theme park was basically a sound stage environment that held attractions behind facades. Backstage areas are clearly visible and attractions stand alone, quite unlike what's happening down the road.
Islands of Adventure is certainly more theme-parky, but backstage areas are still visible. I think of that view from the top of Dueling Dragons (or whatever it is now). A bunch of warehouses, enormous AC units, pick up trucks, whatever, so there ya go. And my point is here, that Universal shouldn't care too terribly much about sight lines, theyre at the one end of I Drive fer cryin' out loud.

So that brings me to a question about that image that Brian posted. I have a hard time believing that this Skyplex tower will be that imposing over Universal, which is what, a mile away at least? It may be 600 ft tall, but still. I know the Eye is considerably shorter, and I haven't been to the area since it opened to know how it enhances the skyline, but is it visible from Kirkman/Universal? Maybe a local can help me out here.

No, I believe this plainly is Universal's attempt to squelch any major attractions from invading their territory. I also believe they should've given up that fight a long time ago. Perhaps Universal surprised itself with its own success, but by their own admittance are short on land now. I'm really curious to know what the plans are for the property near the convention center, but I can definitely envision a monorail.

And as for Skyplex? I've said it before and I'll say it again- I'll believe it when I see it. I may not eat my hat, but I'll think of something.

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Monday, December 7, 2015 3:48 PM

Imagineering puts a lot of time and energy into making sure you see only what they want to you see. (There are carved animals atop the roof of the Tiki Room that are visible from Frontierland; they were designed to "read" as water buffalo if you're in Adventureland, but as longhorn cattle if you're seeing them over the rooftops of Frontierland.)

Universal struck me as more relaxed about such matters. I recall being surprised on my first visit to IOA, finding myself in Disney-level theming yet seeing backstage areas from Dragons and Hulk.

If I'm reading Google Maps right, it wouldn't be visible looming over Harry's House -- wouldn't it be more due south of the park?

Agreed -- Universal has been trying to protect future expansion plans.

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Monday, December 7, 2015 4:27 PM

Everyone always brings up the views from the big coasters, but that's the only non-immersive thing about IoA (and it's no worse than seeing the rooftops from Splash Mountain). They've always done a pretty good job with sight lines, and this is especially true in the Harry Potter areas.

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Monday, December 7, 2015 4:44 PM

Might be me, but I don't really consider sight-lines from the tops of tall rides/coasters...that seems to be asking a bit too much of the parks. When I think of the views from SheiKra, Everest, Dragons, etc...it's not really possible to prevent you from seeing anything outside the park.

I guess the VR coasters can address that (non-)issue...

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