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County Board Votes 'No' on World's Tallest Roller Coaster in Orlando

October 15, 2015, 8:30 PM · An Orange County (Florida) board voted today to recommend against approving the construction of the world's tallest roller coaster on Orlando's International Drive.

The county's planning and zoning board voted 4-3 against the proposal for the $460 million Skyplex development, which would include a 570-foot polercoaster, called The Skyscraper. The development was planned for the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Boulevard, about one mile south of the Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Orlando was one of the most outspoken opponents of the project, sending representative to argue against it at today's hearing. Universal's representatives said that the project lacked a proper traffic-impact study. They also argued for imposing a height restriction as a condition for allowing the project to go forward, which would prevent the polercoaster from being built as planned. A 570-foot tower located a mile south of Universal Orlando easily could be seen from the Universal property, though it is unclear how much it could be seen from inside the theme parks.

The Skyplex's developers fought back by accusing Universal of bullying.

Ultimately, though, while Skyplex won some support, it was not enough to earn an recommendation for approval. Still, the vote today was advisory, and the proposal goes to the Orange County commission for its vote in December. If the commission votes no, the project, as currently proposed, is dead. But the commission could choose to ignore the planning board's vote and approve the project anyway. One local reporter tweeted that might happen:

Four years ago, the City of Orlando killed a proposed Orlando Thrill Park by denying zoning changes requested by that park's developers. That project would have brought 14 amusement rides to International Drive, including one coaster over 400 feet tall. Orlando Thrill Park's site was even closer to Universal Orlando, near the Wet 'n Wild water park.

Replies (19)

October 15, 2015 at 9:08 PM · As long as it wasn't made by Merlin. The Orlando Eye was such an eyesore
October 15, 2015 at 10:12 PM · The developers have been doodling and redoodling these plans for years, and almost every coaster manufacturer has been linked at some point. This is one of those projects that's never going to happen but with all the hype the developers have dug themselves into a corner. I bet they're secretly pleased with the decision as they can blame the authorities and not have to confess they were getting nowhere themselves anyway.
October 15, 2015 at 11:53 PM · Can a coaster around a pole be any good? I never liked coasters with tight turns and how due to it's design it constantly needs to slow down otherwise the pressure could get to high on the riders and the structure.

Anyway I understand Universal. It sucks to be in this part of Orlando but you can't hold back the growth and reshaping of International Drive.

October 16, 2015 at 5:37 AM · Robert: "The development was planned for the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Boulevard, about one mile south of the Universal Orlando Resort."

Me: Sand Lake "Road." Boulevard sounds foofie.

Robert: "Four years ago, the City of Orlando killed a proposed Orlando Thrill Park by denying zoning changes requested by that park's developers.

Me: That was due to its proximity to a large residential area.

Robert: "Universal Orlando was one of the most outspoken opponents of the project ..."

Me: Whiners.

October 16, 2015 at 3:45 AM · Feelin' a little threatened, are we Universal? ;)
October 16, 2015 at 4:02 AM · Universal is just scared that they might lose a dollar they had no problems with fun spot orlando when they put all their coasters in so they need to just suck it up
October 16, 2015 at 5:57 AM · A result of lobbying efforts by Universal

A lot of resources are devoted by corporations who can afford it to persuade government officials to have things go their way.

Skyplex didn't have the resources to compete with Universal in this regard but a company like Merlin had the resources on par with Universal to lobby government officials which is why universal left them alone.

October 16, 2015 at 6:30 AM · Universal also apparently has a height restriction to follow at no higher than 200ft due to its proximity to neighborhoods. Which with the Skyplex aiming to be over 570 ft tall, it would be about 400 ft taller than anything Universal is allowed to build. But now consider that the Orlando Eye was allowed to be built at 400ft, which the Skyplex would be located closer to than Universal, I believe the area needs more places like this that help re-define the I-Drive experience and bring it back to destination status.
October 16, 2015 at 8:18 AM · Sand Lake and I-Drive are already a traffic problem. . Add in Top Golf, Mangoes and the other development and you have the recipe for 24x7 gridlock. Also consider that there's essentially no detour to get around this intersection, except going THROUGH Universal or almost all the way down to Sea World.

Now, add in this thing on top of the others and it gets particularly gruesome.

October 16, 2015 at 8:29 AM · I can see why the project would get axed with a price tag of $460 million(!). But I'm not sure why it would be such a big deal to Universal, unless they were jealous that they couldn't do such a project like Domenik implied.
October 16, 2015 at 11:06 AM · That Sand Lake Road and International Drive area is already a complete mess with all the traffic. I for one, do not want something like this in that area. How about placing it on the south end of Internationa Drive/Universal Blvd? There is a fair amount of open space down there and the traffic flow would be better.

October 16, 2015 at 5:18 PM · Universal resides in the City of Orlando and is restricted by 200 foot restriction due to the proximity of the residential neighborhood.

While the Skyplex is a commercial district in Orange County, the height along with the lighting issues were the primary issues.

The earlier issues for drainage and Sand Lake Road's capacity were addressed.

Another note is this is the only manufacturer for this roller coaster and as the developers have already purchased 7 parcels of land for the construction along with eight Perkins restaurants to quire one of those. So I'm sure they want t start construction ASAP. Note this complex will have a lot of things beyond the coaster in it..Surf Park, Drop Tower, Zip Line and a lot more I'm sure by the time it was done.

October 16, 2015 at 8:05 PM · That 200 foot height limit is a FAA regulation which also applies to Disney World which is why nothing at Disney World is over 200 feet.

Anything higher would require flashing redlights on the top ruining the immersive theme park experience.

October 16, 2015 at 11:14 PM · There is an interesting conspiracy theory mentioned in the most recent post on tpt regarding this issue and that is LAND.

As we all know it wasn't till recently years that Universal Studios bought the land that wet and wild sits on.

While that parcel of land (w&w+pkg lot:50 acres) itself is too small for a theme park, if they could add the adjacent skyplex parcel (14 acres) +surrounding land, it would be enough for a smaller 3rd gate (64+acres)along the size of Hong Kong Disneyland (68 acres) or Walt Disney Studios (62 acres) in Paris.

That is of course if they don't make a bid for the 400 acre parcel near the convention centre up for auction in mid Nov

October 17, 2015 at 6:23 AM · Regardless of which company is threatened by whatever proposal, this quest for the largest/ tallest/ biggest rollercoaster is a slippery slope. When does it end? And why is it so important? I understand the talent and knowledge required to design and build larger and larger structures has helped progress the worlds of architecture and engineering. But at what point do we start saying, this is actually a bad idea? Look at the Burj Khalifa... tallest building... only a few years ago had about 30-40% unoccupied offices. Of course the largest building will charge exorbitant amounts of fees to stay there. Again... why is that so important?

Who is truly impressed each time the next company builds a structure 10 or even 100 feet taller than the last? Maybe it's just my personality, but I think aesthetically speaking, gigantic buildings stacked next to each other like in Las Vegas are kinda appalling. I hate to say it, but at some point it's like guys comparing their cars, private parts, tv's etc. Give me a ride that is fun. Doesn't matter if it's 10 feet off the ground or 1000 feet. I would argue that Space Mountain or Star Tours can arguably be as fun as any ride at Magic Mountain. Plenty of factors change the fun factor, but if you can trick your senses, in the end it's still fun.

October 17, 2015 at 7:07 AM · If you only have one true attraction it has to be a signature attraction. Sand Lake Road construction is coming in 2016 to help with traffic. But the Skyplex complex needs the walk by traffic that I Drive provides to support the balance of the business that are involved. While the tower gets the press the complex is almost 400k square feet they need a lot of foot traffic.
October 17, 2015 at 9:33 AM · They're going to saturate the Orlando tourist market, if they haven't already. Everyone and his cousin is building some kind of tourist thingamajig. Remember that park which opened a couple years ago, and is already closed? Me neither.
October 17, 2015 at 1:48 PM · Honestly, I am glad they are being told no.
The only thing that looks decent in there is the world's tallest coaster, which will probably be taken over several years later by either Cedar Fair or Six Flags looking into a one trick pony. It would probably be pay to ride, and I would rather pay $60 bucks and ride all day than pay $15 bucks just to ride a coaster.
Having the world's largest Perkins restaurant as well was mentioned. Wait, Perkins? That partnership sounds unstable. In about 5 or 7 years after opening the tower would be closed and urban explorers have a new land to explore and probably loot.

In general, this park sounded like a bad idea from the start. Good thing it is not going to exist.

October 18, 2015 at 11:01 AM · Re: Brandon.

You make some very good points there. I totally agree that Space Mountain and Star Tours are just as fun as the rides at Magic Mountain. (Then again I've never really been to Magic Mountain, but whatever). But I think the reason why so many people strive to build the tallest and biggest roller coaster is because, since they're not backed by a big-name movie studio like Disney or Universal, they don't quite enough funds to build such intricately-themed rides. Sure, every now and then they might be able to build a themed ride, but it'll cost a LOT. And besides, you can't always count on them to be good. Sure you might get a Curse of Darkastle or Voyage To The Iron Reef, but you also might get a Dark Knight Coaster or Empire Of The Penguin. So, instead of relying on heavy theming, these types of parks instead have to rely on a different sort of gimmick, record-breaking coasters. Who has the tallest height, the fastest speed, the craziest inversions, etc. this is mostly just circumspect and theorizing, so I could be wrong, but that's my two cents.

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