Theme Park of the Day: Islands of Adventure

Orlando airport on its way to $1.1 billion expansion

October 22, 2013, 2:59 PM · This isn't about a theme park, but it affects a facility that hosts millions of theme park fans every year: Orlando International Airport is on its way to a billion-dollar-plus upgrade.

The Orlando airport commission last week approved plans for a $1.1 billion expansion and renovation plan for the facility, which serves more than 35 million passengers a year. The commission's concerned that the current facility can't effectively handle more than 45 million passengers a year, which it projects the airport to hit by 2019. So it's devised a plan to add a second terminal facility one mile south of the existing terminal, while upgrading the existing terminal facility and its gates for international flights.

Proposed south terminal
The proposed south terminal for Orlando International Airport

The commission's airport expansion master plan [PDF] detailed the rationale behind and the six phases of the expansion plan, which will start by adding a new, 2,400-space parking garage, remote check-in location and people mover station that will form the core of a new southern terminal facility. The southern terminal will connect to the northern terminal by a three-minute people mover ride, and ultimately might house up to 120 domestic and international airplane gates, two 500-room hotels, 20,000 parking spaces across multiple garages, and terminals for state-wide and local commuter rail systems. (For reference, the current north terminal complex includes 106 gates.)

Here's a concept video:

The $1.1 billion pays for the first phases of the expansion. A full build-out would cost at least $1 billion more. While the airport commission will start right away with renovations and expansion of the existing, northside terminal, focusing on the international gates, the southern terminal project won't start until the airport hits 40 million passengers a year.

Theme park fans, what do you think of Orlando's airport? What would you like to see it fix, add, or improve to better serve the area's tourists and theme park fans?

Replies (9)

October 22, 2013 at 3:09 PM · Remote Check-in would be great!
October 22, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Our airport is already very beautiful in my opinion, but I am more than happy to hear that it will grow in size and will become even better! I also understand their concerns for the number of people traveling by plane, as they are continuing to grow year after year.
October 22, 2013 at 5:54 PM · I would love to see a light rail connect the airport to Port Canaveral, Disneyworld and Universal.
October 22, 2013 at 6:17 PM · Think October 1, 2021
October 22, 2013 at 6:26 PM · While we are on the subject of indirect impacts on Orlando tourism

From the Orlando Sentinel ... TODAY!

"An 18,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium will soon be part of downtown Orlando’s landscape — home to what supporters say will be the city’s second professional sports franchise.

In a raucous celebration, a crowd of more than 200 people chanted “We are going MLS” as soon as Orange County commissioners voted 5-2 Tuesday night to pitch in $20 million in tourist taxes as the county’s share of the $84 million stadium."

October 22, 2013 at 8:03 PM · Would be great if I could get a non stop flight from Amsterdam or Dusseldorf.
October 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM · The environment of the airport, (by that I mean the buildings, facilities etc that passengers use), is good - it's a nice place to arrive and depart Orlando. But it seems to be struggling to cope with the numbers and anything that assists with that would be welcome. Last year we endured the usual long wait for immigration, (really not acceptable in this day and age - put some more damn staff on and don't keep half the channels closed, and outbound the line for security was so long some people were in danger of missing their flights. Again unacceptable. For an example of how to do full security checks and keep the lines moving with minimal waits try Barcelona airport - efficient, friendly and fast.

October 23, 2013 at 6:55 AM · Great airport except the wait for immigration October 2012 ,2:55 mins ,April 2013 was 2:45,going in May 2014 and with renovation work, now dreading the wait,should we have booked?.not booking for 2014 until we find out what happening to airport with virgin Atlantic
October 24, 2013 at 1:58 AM · I really like the Orlando Airport. It is one of the nicest ariports I have ever been in. It has a hotel inside the airport and has several wall murals/painting showing the theme park attractions in Orlando area and a few really nice gift shops.

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