New Year, New Ways to Experience Florida

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Canada Releases | Comments Off on New Year, New Ways to Experience Florida

Navi River Journey ~ Pandora – The World of AVATAR   Photo Credit: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Navi River Journey ~ Pandora – The World of AVATAR Photo Credit: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

In 2015 Florida welcomed 106.6 million visitors, and 2016 is already breaking records with 85 million visitors in just the first nine months. Florida is keeping up the pace by introducing upgraded and new attractions, restaurants, hotels and events. From Pandora – The World of AVATAR to eco-friendly foodie experiences to unforgettable hiking trails, Florida’s 2017 line-up promises fun for everyone.

Orlando, the theme park capital of the world, will be offering plenty of exciting new attractions that can’t be missed. Pandora – The World of AVATAR at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is set to open next year. Inspired by James Cameron’s hit film, Avatar, this largest expansion in the park’s history will feature floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforests.

Make a splash at Volcano Bay in Universal Orlando Resort. Set to open summer 2017, Volcano Bay is a new water park that promises innovative, thrilling rides mixed with a highly themed and completely immersive environment.

After opening MAKO – Orlando’s longest, fastest, tallest roller coaster – in 2016, SeaWorld has turned its attention to Kraken. Making the old, new, the legendary Kraken roller coaster is transformed into Florida’s only virtual-reality experience. This digitally-enhanced ride will take guests on a deep-sea mission alongside sea creatures, such as the mighty Kraken.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort will be opening a new and exciting land in January 2017. NINJAGO World invites kids to sharpen their ninja skills and engage in hands-on activities all throughout the park.

Outside of the theme parks, Orlando’s new Multipurpose Soccer Stadium is scheduled to open prior to the 2017 MLS soccer season. This addition to the city will become the new home to the Orlando City Lions and the Orlando Pride soccer teams.

The Pensacola area is changing the way its visitors get around with the all new Pensacola Bay Ferry System. Travelling between Downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Fort Pickens, these ferries will allow you to explore each of these locations at your leisure. Opening in the late spring of 2017, the ferries will feature a climate-controlled deck, snack bars, flat screen TVs and a sound system for guest enjoyment.

Let your inner foodie rejoice in Panama City Beach for UNwineD: Vines to Steins. This exclusive event will take place March 31 – April and will feature craft beer, premier wine and a gourmet coastal fare experience.

Looking to explore? Take on Tallahassee, where city meets nature. Florida’s capital is introducing its “Capital City to the Sea Trail.” This new addition will have over 600 miles of trails through town, stretching all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. These corridors will allow pedestrians and cyclists of all levels to explore the natural beauty of the destination in comfort and safety.

In the Lake City area, be sure to check out the location’s first ever craft brewery, Halpatter Brewing Company. Opening its doors in summer 2017, this downtown location will feature a taproom, beer garden and much more.

Experience the charm and history of Florida’s Historic Coast at St. Augustine’s Lightner Museum. Their newest exhibit, Dressing Downton, Changing Fashion for Changing Times, features a unique display of authentic Victorian Era costumes and accessories.

Dive in and get familiar with the remarkable landscapes at Silver Springs State Park in Ocala. Be sure to check out the new Ross Allen Trail, named in honour of the long-time Silver Springs reptile performer.

Divers and fishermen alike will flock to St. Lucie’s newest attraction, the Tug Kathleen, a 70 foot steel tugboat sunk 15 miles from the coast of Fort Pierce. This new artificial reef is predicted to become a popular spot and home for local fish and sea creatures.

Indulge your senses in Palm Beach’s new food and drink area, The Warehouse District. This eclectic urban neighborhood is comprised of eight vintage-style buildings that is spearheaded by local food and beverage vendors, artists, fitness enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

If you find that you are in need of transportation to and from the Palm Beach area, Brightline trains will soon feature a new express intercity rail service. These trains will connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach by mid-2017 with plans to expand to Orlando in 2018.

Enrich your stay with a trip to the all-new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami. This state-of-the-art museum features a vast aquarium complex, planetarium and incredible exhibits on living ecosystems, the human body, and outer space.

Located in the Florida Keys & Key West, the Stoned Crab restaurant, Three Hands Fish sustainable seafood market and Key West Legal Rum distillery have launched two new, eco-friendly foodie packages. Enjoy all-natural cocktails or eat your personal catch of the day during either of these Key West original experiences.

Coming in September 2017, Punta Gorda is proud to announce the opening of Peace River Botanical & Sculpture Gardens. These gardens will be the first of their kind featuring seven large-scale sculptures alongside flowering trees on its 27-acre property. Over 15,000 square feet of boardwalks and docks for visitors to enjoy will be added as well.

For the first time in over twenty years, the World Rowing Championships will return to the United States and, more specifically, to the Bradenton Area’s own Nathan Benderson Park. You don’t want to miss this long-awaited sporting event.

Winding waterways, scenic salt marshes and the open Gulf of Mexico are unique to the Coastal Blueway Paddling Trail on Florida’s Adventure Coast. The trail officially opens in February 2017 and welcomes nature lovers to delight in its thriving ecosystem.

While in Tampa, a CityPASS gets you into some of the most popular attractions within the city for half the price of a regular ticket. Some attractions include The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, the Museum Of Science and Industry (MOSI) and Busch Gardens Tampa BayNew to Busch Gardens is The Wildlife Docs: Live—a live version of the Emmy nominated weekly show.

Clearwater Beach’s newest addition, the Wyndham Grand Resort, will become the largest hotel/resort in the area upon opening its doors. With 343 luxurious guest rooms, waterfront vistas and a waterside bar and restaurant, this hotel will exceed all expectations.

This list is just a small part of what’s to come in 2017. To see what else is new in Florida, check out VISIT FLORIDA’s media site.


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According to VISIT FLORIDA’s preliminary estimates, 105 million visitors came to Florida in 2015, an increase of 6.6 percent from 2014. VISIT FLORIDA estimates that 11.4 million overseas visitors and 3.8 million Canadians came to the Sunshine State last year. Once again, Canada is the top international country for visitation to Florida in 2015.

Preliminary figures for the first two quarters of 2016 show 2,667,000 Canadians visited Florida.

As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 105 million visitors and employing 1.2 million Floridians. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA – the official tourism marketing corporation for the state of Florida – $3.20 in tax revenue is generated. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves nearly 12,000 tourism industry businesses, including 2,700 invested Partners, 8,900 web affiliates and major strategic alliance partnerships with Disney Destinations, Dollar Rent A Car, The Hertz Corporation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Universal Orlando.

To learn more about VISIT FLORIDA, please go to or or follow our corporate blog at