If you’re a local, you can’t help but notice the newest landmark on the International Drive tourist strip. The Orlando Eye wheel has slowly but surely worked its way 400 feet into the sky, and now it has all of its passenger capsules.
The Orlando Eye is the crowning jewel of the new I-Drive 360 attraction area, which took over the spot previously occupied by the struggling Mercado mall.
The wheel, which opens on May 4, is poised to breathe new life into a previously neglected area of the tourist strip that runs between the Orlando Convention Center and Sand Lake Road. It’s in a perfect spot that’s easily accessible from I-4, and a new parking garage eliminates much of the challenge of desperately searching for a spot to leave your car.
It was a slow but steady process to install all 30 passenger capsules. Want to see how it was done? Check out the video below. which shows the installation of the very last capsule:
Here’s General Manager Robin Goodchild talking about the installation:
Now that all 30 are in place, the Orlando Eye is in its final stages of completion. Its next big hallmark is installation of colored lights that will put on a dazzling show. There’s also lots of testing, and then the area’s newest towering thrill will be ready for its May 4 debut, along with two sister attractions in the I-Drive 360 complex: the Sea Life Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
The Sea Life aquarium will have three huge ocean habitats representing the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. The video below shows the very first gallons of water going into the Atlantic exhibit:
You’ll see everything from tiny seahorses to massive, toothy sharks at Sea Life. The big highlight will be the 360 degree tunnel that takes you into the sea creatures’ habitat. The attraction has an educational slant, so you can slip in a little learning with the fun when you bring the kids. Everything is set up to be immersive, and you can take little quizzes as you make your way through each exhibit area.
You can also feel good about supporting conservation when you visit the attraction, as Sea Life has a fund that supports breeding endangered animals like rays, rescuing and rehabilitating seals and turtles, cleaning beaches, and protecting marine habitats.
Sea Life will be part of the three-attraction opening on May 4, and although you can buy separate admission tickets for each attraction, you’ll save a lot of money if you combine a visit to all three.
Here’s curator Steve Blair talking about the new aquarium attraction:
The trio is rounded out by Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, which brings well-known historical figures and celebrities to Orlando in eerily life-like form. Be sure to bring your camera and you’ll end up with quite the star-studded photo collection by the end of your visit.
As you can see in the photo at right, Abe Lincoln was all ready for Presidents Day this year. His comrades will all be done by the May 4 opening day.