'Orlando Eye' construction ramps up

'Orlando Eye' on International Drive creates buzz, expected to change business outlook


ORLANDO, Fla. – The "Orlando Eye" on International Drive has created a big buzz and when it changes the Orlando skyline, it also changes the business outlook in the tourist mecca.

Locals know with the Orlando Eye as I-Drive's new anchor, business goes up each time someone rides up 425 feet in the air.

It's part of the "I-Drive 360" project, complete with free parking, regular shuttles to Legoland, new restaurants, shops, a Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Sea Life Aquarium.

"It's excellent and I can't wait until they build the aquarium," said Linda Greene, who lives nearby and has watched the development get off the ground. "It's getting bigger and bigger, but not fast enough."

"I-Drive is always changing," said Ken Pilcher, of Theme World Blog. "A lot of the stuff was going to happen years ago, but then we had the recession."

But Pilcher said investment has bounced back in a big way.

Around the corner from I-Drive 360 there's the I-Shops project with even more stores.

"Across the street you've got a developer from Miami who's building a Miami-style nightclub. He's so excited about the idea, he's building what he claims is going to be the world's tallest roller coaster, more than 500 feet tall," said Pilcher.

And if that's not enough, a big empty lot on the I-Drive 360 site leaves room for another big attraction that has yet to be announced.

[MORE:  IDriveOrlando website]

Construction on the Eye should be done by December, but the whole attraction is not expected to open until next spring, said Pilcher.