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Skyplex Orlando Discussion Thread


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I wonder if Universal will try to get Disney on board, I wonder if they even care. I can't imagine if you are the board that will say "no we do not want another tourist attraction". I'd hope they could see how transparent their light pollution argument is especially when you can see plenty of the other attraction outside their park already on Hulk, Dragon Challenge and the Dr. Doom Drop tower.

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The light pollution argument is utterly Ludicrous. I can see the green skycoaster and the Pink Eye from 10-15 miles away at some points in Orlando. I can see Holy Land's permanent Christmas lights from a mile away driving on the interstate.

 

I can UNIVERSAL's rotating searchlights from my house, from the interstate, from everywhere practically in the area.

 

The Skyplex will have a dramatic positive effect on the nighttime views of orlando. What a cool tourist landmark that will be visible from miles and miles away. We have no mountains and our land is flat, so the tower would be a very cool Icon to let tourists know "Hey that must be where the action is on I-Drive, there's that Skyplex Tower". It's going to look great and I completely don't understand how they can use this as an argument against the tower.

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Signed the petition.

 

Universal needs to realize that, had competition not existed in our market in the first place, their business would not be where it is today. Orlando's sprawling attractions corridor and it's growth year-after-year is the reason why people from all over the world choose Orlando as their destination and keep coming back.

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Can you quote the text of the article in the forums? Every time I try to access the link, it prompts me for a subscription then defaults to the main page after declining to sign up.

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Here you go:

Last year, when the Orlando Skyplex announced plans to build the world's tallest roller coaster on International Drive, it made worldwide news. Media from NBC's "Today" show to the London Daily Mail fawned over the 570-foot-tall attraction's jaw-dropping plunges.

 

YouTube videos featuring animated renderings of the vertical drops and twisty turns were viewed millions of times.

 

From Vegas to Milwaukee, media showed viewers what Orlando was doing and asked: "Would you dare ride it?"

 

Everyone was excited.

 

Well ... not everyone.

 

Unbeknownst to many, Universal Orlando has been quietly lobbying to quash Skyplex's sky-high ambitions.

 

You see, the Skyplex needs permission from the county to build that high. And Universal — which operates coasters of its own — has been griping to county officials.

 

At a meeting of county staffers back in May, a Universal attorney complained that the Skyplex would prompt a "character change" to I-Drive.

 

If so, bring it on.

 

Seriously. much of I-Drive is T-shirt shops, fast food and hookah lounges. If the Skyplex will change that character, please go right ahead.

 

Universal's attorney also argued that the Skyplex would create "visual intrusion and sound intrusion" at the site at the intersection of I-Drive and Sand Lake Road.

 

And that part — Universal arguing that a ride might bother people — is downright laughable.

 

Sixteen years ago, when I was a beat reporter covering Orange County, I remember sitting with residents on the patios of homes in the Orange Tree subdivision — right across the street from Islands of Adventure and the park's Dueling Dragons roller coasters.

 

For 12 hours a day and into the night, coaster wheels clicked, carts roared and passengers screamed. Some residents said the coasters even rattled their homes.

 

Today, those coasters still roar across the street from residents.

 

Now, consider the neighbors of the Skyplex: A giant McDonald's, a liquor store, hotels, bars and restaurants ... oh, and a 425-foot-tall Ferris wheel just down the street.

 

According to Universal's logic, loud coasters near homes are fine. But a tall coaster in one of the busiest tourist strips in America would be a big problem.

 

That doesn't even pass the straight-face test.

 

Joshua Wallack, developer of the Skyplex, said Universal is really just scared of the competition.

 

"They don't want I-Drive entertainment district becoming competitive with CityWalk or their theme park," he said. "They have started coming at us in all these meetings, throwing everything at us they can, hoping something will stick."

 

Universal said that's not the case. While noting it built its own park under "more restrictive guidelines," Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said: "We compete on a global basis, not with individual attractions on I-Drive. Most of our guests know they will visit us before they arrive in town."

 

If that was true, Universal wouldn't have an attorney griping about this individual attraction.

 

Still, it should be true.

 

Universal is the giant wizard on the block. It kicks theme-park tail. Ever since Harry Potter opened, the park has shattered attendance and profit records. It's pioneering and popular.

 

It's not like a family planning a trip to Orlando for Universal will spy a giant coaster and say: Ya know what? Forget Universal.

 

Plus, I'll be honest: I've been skeptical about whether the Skyplex will ultimately rise.

 

While I like Wallack's vision and spunk, I've worked too long in this town to believe every pie-in-the-sky proposal — whether it's a supposed "seven-star hotel" or billion-dollar resort.

 

Wallack says he's the real deal, having already acquired the land and invested more than $100 million, an admittedly big deal.

 

But it doesn't matter what I think. Skyplex should succeed or fail on its own merits, financing and market conditions — not because Universal or anyone else is afraid of competition.

 

And certainly not because county commissioners or officials take orders from the bully on the block ... even if he does have a cool wand.

 

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-universal-skyplex-coaster-scott-maxwell-20151001-column.html

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^^Great article! Especially as someone who is quite a local to Universal. KT has play dates in Orange Tree (one of the communities mentioned) and Toscana (a community currently fighting Universal for destroying their foundations with the Volcano Bay construction!) and Universal is always there, loud and tall! It's silly to fight a big tourist project surrounded by other tourist attractions!

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My thing is, why is universal making a big deal about it but Disney isn't? Is it because it will closer to universal? That's the one thing I really don't understand about this...

 

It's MUCH closer to Universal and Universal is rumored to be trying to buy up a lot of land in the I-Drive Area.

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My thing is, why is universal making a big deal about it but Disney isn't? Is it because it will closer to universal? That's the one thing I really don't understand about this...

 

It's MUCH closer to Universal and Universal is rumored to be trying to buy up a lot of land in the I-Drive Area.

Makes a little more sense now.

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My thing is, why is universal making a big deal about it but Disney isn't?

Because people don't come to Orlando to go to Universal, to go to SeaWorld, to go to Skyplex. They come to Orlando go to to Disney, and then they do those OTHER things as well on their extra days. Disney is the tentpole in this market, always has and always will be. Disney does not even concern themselves with what Universal does (as many people would argue against that) because Disney knows that one of their parks alone gets more attendance than both of Universal's parks combined.

 

Skyplex wouldn't be potentially taking away customers from Disney, they'd be taking it away from Universal. And that's why Disney doesn't care and Universal does.

Edited by robbalvey
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My thing is, why is universal making a big deal about it but Disney isn't?

Because people don't come to Orlando to go to Universal, to go to SeaWorld, to go to Skyplex. They come to Orlando go to to Disney, and then they do those OTHER things as well on their extra days. Disney is the tentpole in this market, always has and always will be. Disney does not even concern themselves with what Universal does (as many people would argue against that) because Disney knows that one of their parks alone gets more attendance than both of Universal's parks combined.

 

Skyplex wouldn't be potentially taking away customers from Disney, they'd be taking it away from Universal. And that's why Disney doesn't care and Universal does.

 

That sums it up perfectly. Thank you Robb!!

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As I was driving down in that area this past weekend, I thought Skyplex would actually look good in that skyline. I understand the points on both sides but personally I'd like to see it built. Maybe it could indirectly benefit Universal as it might attract more people to that area, and perhaps to the Universal parks as well.

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Am I the only one who thinks that this project will most likely not be rejected? I dont know why Florida wouldn't want the biggest rollercoaster in the world, for tourism and stuff. At the end of the day its not Universals decision (although I guess they might influence it a lot). Plus it would fit in great at the I-Drive.

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More coverage of the fight between Skyplex and Universal from the Orlando Sentinel here:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-skyplex-dark-skies-complaints-20151026-story.html

 

I-Drive's latest tall attraction raises early lighting concerns

 

Would Skyplex cause new lighting concerns along busy I-Drive?

 

International Drive has several tall attractions or buildings that light up the night sky.

 

At the Magical Midway amusement park, the 390-foot Slingshot and the 230-foot StarFlyer are visible from Interstate 4. The Slingshot's two crane-like towers are a glowing rainbow of light. Down the road, the Hyatt Regency Orlando, formerly The Peabody, is 428 feet tall and has beacon of light on the rooftop.

 

The latest attraction planned for that area is the 700-foot tower anchoring the proposed Skyplex Orlando entertainment complex.

 

At a recent zoning hearing, Joshua Wallack, developer of the complex, had to field early questions about lighting design.

 

Wallack went before Orange County's planning and zoning commission Oct. 15 for approval needed to rezone his property on I-Drive at Sand Lake Road.

 

The focus instead became an argument over the height of the planned Skyscraper rollercoaster and the light the tower would emit.

 

Commissioner Tina Demostene brought up the lighting concerns, saying she has friends who can see the Orlando Eye from their home in Keene's Pointe, a community southwest of Windermere.

 

If the Orlando Eye, at 400 feet, is clearly at visible at night, Demostene asked, what does that mean for a project almost twice as tall?

 

"It's just this kind of glowing," she said at the meeting. "It loses the iconic structure and becomes more Las Vegas-y."

 

Jim Ward, a county planner, said lighting should not have been questioned at the planning meeting because it's typically discussed by the development-review committee.

 

"This is zoning, so we don't have a lighting engineer in the project at this point," said Hal Kantor, the lawyer representing Wallack, during the meeting. "When we get to the development-plan stage we will, and we'll address it.

 

The planning meeting acted as the stage for an official battle between Universal Orlando and Skyplex leaders, who have been at odds for months over the proposed development.

 

The focus of that spat is the height of the Skyscraper. Universal leaders contend it wouldn't fit into the neighborhood and would likely be visible from their park. Per Orlando code, Universal's rides and attractions can only be 200 feet tall.

 

Outside city limits, 501 feet tall, Wallack's roller coaster would considerably dwarf rides at Universal, which would then stand about half as tall as the "the world's tallest roller coaster."

 

Planning and zoning commissioners voted against recommending the Skyplex for further development. Ultimately, it is scheduled to go before the Board of County Commissioners in December for more discussion and approval.

 

Chuck Whittall, president of Unicorp Developments,said he faced similar pushback from Universal when he was working on developing I-Drive 360, home to the Orlando Eye. He's scheduled to go before the Orange County Planning & Zoning Commission in December for his proposed 420-foot StarFlyer, a tower ride that reaches speeds of 40 mph as riders reach the top and begin spinning.

 

Universal's spoken out against that project, too, said Whittall.

 

Orlando attorney John Morgan, who built Magical Midway but no longer owns it, said he squared off with opponents nearly a decade ago.

 

"You've got to be careful," he said, adding he had hotels abutting his property. "They were concerned about lighting and they're always concerned about noise."

 

One concession he made was lowering music at night, to ensure hotel guests weren't kept up too late.

 

In terms of any lighting concerns for tall rides or buildings, those that stand above the general I-Drive skyline, Ward said the location and context of the proposed development is crucial to consider.

 

"You wouldn't go to Las Vegas and complain about things like lighting," he said.

 

County and I-Drive business leaders have met monthly for the last year discussing the future of the I-Drive tourism corridor. The district has been divided into subdistricts, including the Entertainment subdistrict, where the Skyplex would be built.

 

"I think there's a place for everything," said Whittall, adding concerns about dark skies is just "a silly comment."

 

Morgan said I-Drive is known for the bright lights, attractions and general hum it brings to the community.

 

"All the way from Universal, down Kirkman, and all the way down I-Drive to SeaWorld, I see that as one giant attraction and I always have," said Morgan. "Everyone knows what you're getting when you get there."

 

Ward says the county's current exterior lighting ordinance may be a little out of date, having become the governing ordinance for lighting in 2003. When it was first drafted, it focused mostly on residential and standard commercial development to reflect the ongoing growth in Orange County, he said.

 

"It is not so sophisticated to have anticipated 420-foot-tall Ferris wheels in 2003," he said.

 

When it comes to height, the ordinance only discusses parking lots or pedestrian areas.

 

Whittall said he worked with county leaders to properly light the Eye without creating a tacky lighting show.

 

"It's not obtrusive to the area," he said.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting, Uni buying off a politico?

Drunken Pirate Child ‏@SchuckJH

@Jason_Garcia story all the more awkward when you remember Skyplex isn't even in Buddy's district. It's unincorporated O.C.

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

Le fin.

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

So...Universal got help from Dyer in its fight to stop Skyplex. And then Dyer got help from Universal in his fight to get re-elected. 7

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

And the Florida Democratic Party paid for most -- probably all -- of Dyer's negative advertising against challenger Paul Paulson. 6

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

That money went directly into Dyer's re-election campaign. Moving Orlando Forward gave all of its money to the Florida Democratic Party. 5

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

Universal was the largest contributor to Dyer's PAC in October, which was the height of Dyer's re-election campaign 4

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

Six days later, NBCUniversal wrote a $20,000 check to Buddy Dyer's "Moving Orlando Forward" PAC. 3

 

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

The Dyer aide, like Universal lobbyists, urged county planning and zoning commissioners to vote against Skyplex's proposal, which they did 2

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

On Oct. 15,Buddy Dyer's administration sent -- at Universal Orlando's request -- a top staffer to testify in a county hearing re: Skyplex 1

 

 

 

Jason Garcia

2h2 hours ago

Jason Garcia ‏@Jason_Garcia

Hang with me for a few Tweets, because this is interesting...

 

 

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When things start involving politics as deeply as this is when I start getting headaches... They're working pretty hard to make sure this doesn't happen. Also, I-Drive is much more of a lit-up strip already.

 

Maybe they're just worried that the "icon" or "image" of Orlando to people (namely tourists) will shift from the theme parks, to the big wheel, and then to the HUGE skyscraper with a roller coaster on it. They're probably just intimidated with the fact that they'll have to compete for the upper-hand in imagery within that area. Skyplex will practically advertise itself...

 

Just my touristy two-cents, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

^Yeah, same here, no wonder Universal is fighting it so much if this was what they knew was in the pipeline. Looks awesome.

 

Also, pure fantasy speculation here, but I can't help but wonder what this area would look like if they Magic would have built the new Amway center here instead of Downtown? This kind of entertainment complex with a major sports arena/concert venue right next door would have been awesome.

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