See how Orlando — Cvent’s No. 1 meeting destination — is enhancing amazing for business groups with new resorts, event space, experiences and more (artist rendering of Orlando International Airport’s South Terminal Complex pictured).
Updated Aug. 18, 2022
Even with the events of recent years, Orlando has never stopped greeting business and leisure travelers — and they keep coming. In 2021 alone, over 40 million visitors arrived through Orlando International Airport (MCO), and more than 400,000 met at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), staying at one of our more than 130,000 hotel rooms and counting.
What’s more, this vibrant, forward-thinking destination never stops improving — which can make it challenging to keep up with the ever-changing face of Orlando’s convention and tourism districts. Fortunately, we’re here to help with a guide to the newest hotels and entertainment options awaiting your group the next time you meet in Orlando. Stay tuned for a look at our freshest dining experiences in June.
- New at Orlando International Airport
- New and Updated Meeting Hotels & Resorts
- New Entertainment for Meeting Groups
At Orlando International Airport, phase one of the $3.82 billion, multi-year Terminal C (aka South Terminal Complex) project is scheduled to open on Sept. 19, 2022, adding 15 gates and 100% automated lanes in the TSA checkpoint. Other modish features include interactive digital media, a state-of-the-art radio frequency baggage system, and scores of shops, restaurants and lounge facilities. Many of the fresh dining choices will showcase regionally inspired cuisine, including celebrity Chef Art Smith’s Sunshine Diner.
Learn more: Flights to Orlando
Your group will also want to strap in for the terminal’s Train Station, which is designed to offer seamless integration of air, ground and rail transportation. The Train Station will accommodate the South Airport Automated People Mover (APM) Station and up to three train systems, including the Brightline train with service to Miami to and from MCO (Orlando) expected at the end of 2022.
Learn more: Orlando Transportation Providers
Meeting planners should also note that the new I-4 Express is making it easier to get to Orlando International Airport and everywhere else in town. Part of Orlando’s section of Interstate 4 (I-4), this new option consists of tolled lanes, two in each direction, between Kirkman Road (State Road 435) and State Road 434. In addition to helping to reduce roadway congestion, the new express lanes contribute to economic development opportunities along this vital transportation corridor. Perhaps most importantly, they provide more efficient traveling options for commuters and visitors to Orlando.
Explore meetings-focused hotels and resorts in Orlando that are new or have undergone recent renovations or expansions. Even more are coming in 2023 and beyond, including the all-new Conrad Orlando at Evermore Orlando Resort.
Learn more: Meeting Hotels & Resorts
ette Hotel Orlando
The Tuscan-inspired, 126-room ette Hotel Orlando is new to the Lake Buena Vista area close to Walt Disney World® Resort. Inspired by an alcohol-free wellness doctrine, the property delivers top-drawer sophisticated, seasonal mocktails and a “Secret Bring Your Own” code that enables guests the option to BYOB, even offering guests their own thermos bag.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, Salt & The Cellar — dubbed “Mediterasian,” for its playful blend of Mediterranean and Asian cuisines — is curated by award-winning Chef Akira Back, serving up scrummy dishes and fresh-shaken mocktails. LIPA, the 1,100-square-foot rooftop lounge, presents sushi and sweeping views of the surrounding area’s nightly fireworks, and a DJ booth for groups ready to dance beneath the stars.
A contemporary ballroom, divisible into myriad configurations, Studio A, B and C provides a total of 820 square feet to accommodate up to 30 seated or 124 reception style. Each designated event space has its own pre-function section and a 280-square-foot reception area complete with a 100-inch, high-definition video screen. Catering menus are customized. All menus, including craft cocktails, are zero-proof, although off-site bartending companies may provide alcohol for private events.
Lake Nona Wave Hotel
Opened in December 2021 in Orlando’s forward-facing, ever-expanding Lake Nona area close to Orlando International Airport, the Lake Nona Wave Hotel features 216 guest rooms, 16 one-bedroom suites and two penthouse suites. Guests have three destination dining concepts from which to choose and tech-forward amenities, such as voice-automated in-room controls.
The property’s focus on holistic wellbeing provides access to the world’s first Chopra Mind-Body Zone at the adjacent Lake Nona Performance Club. And for art lovers, this exceptional hotel displays sculptures from one of the largest private art collections in the world, showcasing 500 pieces of art by nationally recognized and local artists in the 50,000-square-foot Lake Nona Sculpture Garden.
The hotel boasts 17,000 square feet of light and contemporary event spaces with floor-to-ceiling View Smart windows, which use AI to filter light so it’s literally easy on the eyes. The 3,000-square-foot Wave Ballroom presents lofty, 14-foot ceilings to accommodate up to 300 for receptions, 240 theater-style, 150 for banquets and 94 classroom-style. Smaller rooms, appropriately named Synergy and Ignite, fuse with the area’s priority on wellness. Reflection, Inspiration and Illumination are open-air reception venues for up to 280 guests and located within the Sculpture Garden.
Walt Disney World Swan Reserve at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort
Last fall, Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort opened a 14-story, 349-room hotel tower, Walt Disney World Swan Reserve, just a short walk from Disney’s Hollywood Studios® and EPCOT®. This serene yet refined oasis features two ballrooms and 12 meeting rooms totaling over 15,000 square feet of event space, as well as an elevated, 13,000-square-foot tropical pool deck for private outdoor events. The largest indoor space, the Harbor Ballroom, spans 6,027 square feet and accommodates 735 theater style, 378 classroom-style and 440 for banquets. Smaller groups of up to 21 people can choose from 149 meeting suites with 75-inch monitors and state-of-the-art technology.
A full-service health club and 90-foot-long pool will help guests burn off calories after noshing at Amare, the property’s on-site Mediterranean restaurant that dishes out breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Drury Plaza Hotel
Beginning a phased opening in late October 2022, Drury Plaza Hotel Orlando Lake Buena Vista is positioned within the Disney Springs® area. An Official Walt Disney World Hotel, this affordable property will also have free hot breakfast, dinnertime snacks and cold beverages at the 5:30 Kickback®.
With 602 spacious guestrooms and two-room suites, Drury Plaza Hotel will have 10 meeting rooms, more than 17,000 square feet of versatile meeting and pre-function space, free Wi-Fi, an outdoor terrace, and pool deck access. Restaurants will include The Kitchen + Bar (lobby bar) and Lakeside Bar + Grill (poolside restaurant).
Cambria Suites, formerly known as Vib Hotel Orlando, is another Drury Property under construction in the International Drive, aka I-Drive, convention district. Offering many of the same amenities as the upcoming Drury Plaza Hotel, this project is expected to deliver a 65,130-square-foot, five-story, 120-room property, with bookings starting in September 2022.
Grand Orlando Resort at Celebration
The Grand Orlando Resort at Celebration, located on 20 acres just 1.5 miles from Walt Disney World, is currently undergoing a $35 million renovation of guest rooms and suites, outdoor pool areas, a restaurant, and on-site conference center, with completion expected in early 2023. Guests can plunge into three swimming pools, rally at two tennis courts, feast at four restaurants, and hop aboard complimentary scheduled transportation to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.
Grand Orlando Resort can easily accommodate groups with as many as 400 attendees. The property’s conference center offers 11,632 square feet of flexible meeting space with additional options for outdoor events. And the hotel’s six towers might be the answer to many planners’ dreams, with each tower housing more than 100 rooms, enabling the unique opportunity to book exclusive sleeping room towers for attendees.
Additional Hotel Upgrades
Close to Walt Disney World Resort, Waldorf Astoria® Orlando is undergoing an update that will bring a new ballroom to the property by the end of 2022, with the resort’s 502 guestrooms being renovated by July 2023.
Also close to Walt Disney World, Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is working to add a new ballroom by the end of 2023.
Learn more: Things to Do in Orlando
Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
At the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in the heart of downtown Orlando, Steinmetz Hall opened in January 2022 to much fanfare. Capable of achieving an N1 sound rating — the lowest level at which the human ear can detect sound — the facility hosts a medley of world-class entertainment for groups, including Orlando Ballet, Opera Orlando, Orlando Philharmonic, and accomplished national and local artists. With a seating capacity of 1,700, the theater is available for group events and can accommodate 850 for a reception or 600 banquet style.
Learn more: Steinmetz Hall
Cirque du Soleil — Drawn to Life
Cirque du Soleil — Drawn to Life premiered at Disney Springs in November 2021. This first-ever collaboration between Cirque du Soleil and Disney will take your group on a mind-blowing journey where the animator’s desk becomes the stage, and guests watch with breathless anticipation as drawings literally come alive before their eyes. Discounted group ticket pricing is available.
Learn more: Orlando Arts & Culture
Lake Nona Sculpture Garden
New to Orlando’s Lake Nona community, the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden is a 50,000-square-foot outdoor space where you can explore a distinguished selection of sculptures from one of the world’s largest private art collections, The Lewis Collection. Standouts include pieces by acclaimed artists such as Fernando Botero, Philip Jackson, Henry Moore, and Enzo Plazzotta. It’s free to the public and adjacent to the Lake Nona Wave Hotel.
Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex
Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex is set to open at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Visitor Complex on June 15, 2022. This 50,000-square-foot, multi-level attraction showcases NASA and commercial spacecraft hardware with immersive displays, as well as a “journey” through space, unique launch viewing opportunities and more.
The KSC Visitor Complex welcomes groups of all sizes to spend the day or evening exploring unparalleled space attractions and exhibits. There are numerous private educational programs, team-building activities, meeting and event venues, and day trip options that bring space exploration to life. Adult groups must have a minimum of 15 attendees to receive the group rate.
Coming to downtown Orlando in 2022, Art² (“Art Squared”) will be an interactive, urban art park featuring a repurposed, two-story shipping container structure. The park will integrate a cafe, art gallery, stage, seating, extensive audiovisual equipment, digital video walls, a gift shop, an artificial turf courtyard, a concrete patio, picnic tables, hammock rentals, two food truck spaces, and a downtown gateway feature.
New at Orlando’s Theme Parks
SeaWorld® Orlando’s first steel launch rollercoaster, Ice Breaker opened in February 2022. It features four launches, both backwards and forwards, culminating in a reverse launch with a 93-foot-tall spike, a maximum speed of 52 mph and 100-degree angle, making it the steepest vertical drop in Florida.
Just launched at Aquatica® Orlando, Reef Plunge will send your attendees on an unforgettable thrill ride in a 330-foot fiberglass waterslide, zooming past a vibrant array of marine life, dolphins, leopard sharks and other picturesque cold-water fish.
Ready to experience an intergalactic chase through space and time? Part of the first “other-world” pavilion at EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens May 27, 2022. The storytelling roller coaster rotates 360 degrees to focus on the action, including the first reverse launch on a Disney coaster.
Other new reasons for your group to visit Walt Disney World include Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction at EPCOT, plus fresh nighttime spectaculars courtesy of Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom® Park and Harmonious at EPCOT.
Universal Orlando Resort has also announced expansion plans, with an all-new theme park, Universal’s Epic Universe, expected to open in 2025.