July 9, 2020

Business Florida 2020 - The Regions

Beyond Imagination

Brevard • Lake • Orange • Osceola • Seminole • Sumter • Volusia

| 10/16/2019


Every big city in America likes to boast when its tourist numbers run into the millions, but while Los Angeles topped 50 mil for the first time ever and New York City logged 65, Orlando welcomed 75 million visitors in 2018. And no wonder. The very name “Orlando” evokes an image of theme parks and family fun. The biggest names in the business — Universal, Disney and SeaWorld — have massive operations here, all of which are continuing to evolve.

• On the heels of opening another Harry Potter-themed attraction in 2019 — “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure” — Universal Orlando plans to add a fourth theme park. The name — Epic Universe — has been revealed, but the theme remains a mystery.

• “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in August 2019, and a themed hotel nearby has officially been named “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.” And coming soon to EPCOT: a ride based on Disney’s “Moana”; a “Guardians of the Galaxy” roller coaster; “Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure” ride in the France pavilion; and a “Mary Poppins” attraction in the United Kingdom pavilion.

• SeaWorld Orlando has opened a 6-acre life-sized re-creation of Sesame Street, just in time for the show’s 50th anniversary year and complete with all the familiar residents, including Elmo and Big Bird. Under construction elsewhere on the property: a new 40,725-sq.-ft. SeaWorld corporate headquarters.

Orlando’s theme parks typically get the bulk of tourist attention, but some uniquely Florida attractions along this region’s Atlantic coast pull in tons of visitors too. In Brevard County, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex typically logs about 1.5 million tourists each year who come to see the Saturn V rocket that helped propel astronauts to the moon and the Space Shuttle Atlantis. As part of its Apollo 11 50th anniversary celebration, the Visitor Complex features a new exhibit focusing on the days leading up to the launch and subsequent moon landings.

Just up the coast in Volusia County is another huge tourist draw: Daytona Beach. Attractions here include the iconic beach itself, on which limited numbers of cars can still drive for a fee, and Daytona International Speedway, famous for NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 races and the “24 Hours of Daytona” endurance event.

Behind the most visible manifestations of Orlando’s booming tourist industry, companies with narrower interests are also at work:

• Luxury hospitality brand Timbers Resorts has opened its new corporate headquarters in Winter Park with the expectation of adding 80 employees as it expands along the East Coast, including Florida, and to Europe and the Caribbean.

• Kingwood International Resorts of Atlanta has purchased the 2,300-acre Reunion golf resort just south of Walt Disney World, where it plans to add a 400-room hotel.

• Orange Lake Resorts, parent company of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations timeshare brand, has opened a 125,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in South Orlando with the expectation of hiring 250 workers over the next four years.

KEY PLAYERS: SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando; Universal Orlando, Orlando; Walt Disney World, Orlando


Logistics and Transportation

East Central’s primary industry sectors — technology and tourism — require good connections to succeed, which they have — by air, sea and rail.

This region boasts four international airports — Orlando International, Orlando Sanford, Orlando Melbourne and Daytona Beach. With a total of 47.7 million passengers in 2018, Orlando International remains Florida’s busiest airport and 11th busiest in the nation. Domestic traffic was up 6.2% in 2018; international traffic climbed by 11.6%.

With an eye to even more growth, Orlando International has begun work on its south terminal that will add 19 gates and a passenger rail station to accommodate both the SunRail commuter system and fast-rail service from Orlando to Miami via Virgin Trains USA.

Port Canaveral remains the world’s second busiest cruise port, with a record 4.6 million passengers in 2018, and, at $103.8 million, is Florida’s third largest port by total revenues. Cargo revenue alone rose by 18% in 2018 to exceed $10 million for the first time in Canaveral’s 65-year history.

In 2018, 6.4 million tons of cargo moved through Port Canaveral, a 7% increase over the previous year’s volume. In early 2019, Port Canaveral added a $6.2-million mobile harbor crane to handle heavy cargo within the port, including SpaceX Falcon 9 boosters. On the cruise side, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Disney will continue to operate passenger cruises in and out of Port Canaveral and home-base various ships here.

At the same time, construction continues on Cruise Terminal 3 and a 1,700-space parking garage complex in preparation for the arrival of what will be Carnival Cruise Line’s largest ship, the yet-to-be-named 180,000-ton Carnival XL. Its Port Canaveral debut is anticipated in fall 2020 to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Carnival running cruises from Port Canaveral.

Distributors in need of flawless connections are taking advantage of these developments. In September 2018, e-commerce giant Amazon opened a new 2.4-million-sq.-ft. warehouse near Orlando International Airport; six months later Amazon announced plans to site a 300,000-sq.-ft. distribution center along I-95 in Daytona Beach. And coming soon to Groveland: a 375,000-sq.-ft. customer fulfillment center from The Kroger Co. and online grocery retailer Ocado.

KEY PLAYERS: Amazon, Seattle, Wa.; American Automobile Association, Heathrow; JetBlue, Orlando Support Center; Total Quality Logistics, Cincinnati, Ohio

Tags: Space Coast, Business Florida

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