Orlando Guide

French Fly
Air France will commence three weekly nonstop flights from Paris to Orlando in June 2011.

Local Update
Construction is imminent on a new $3.2 billion, high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa, with completion set for 2015. A project of the Florida Department of Transportation, the line will include stops at Orlando International Airport, the Orange County Convention Center and Walt Disney World Resort. The FDOT also is planning a multimillion-dollar Sun Rail commuter system, running from downtown Orlando to the convention district area. Construction is expected to start in spring 2011.

The $383 million Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center is scheduled to break ground in January 2011. Named for noted Florida businessman and philanthropist Dr. Philip Phillips (1874-1959), the 330,300-square-foot project will include three theaters, an outdoor performance plaza, a catering kitchen and space for educational programs. Completion is estimated for 2013.

Expected for fall 2011, Legoland Florida will open on the site of the former 145-acre Cypress Gardens theme park with more than 50 attractions. The $100 million project will be the biggest Legoland attraction to date.

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress completed a $45 million renovation in January with a restyling of its 750 rooms and suites. The property also includes 65,000 square feet of meeting space, eight dining options and 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf.

Fantasyland, the largest expansion of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom to date, is set to open in 2013 and will offer new attractions including Ariel's Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, Dumbo's Flying Circus and new rooms inside the Beast's castle from Beauty and the Beast.

The Art of Animation Resort is a new 2,000-unit property scheduled to open at the end of 2012. Guests will choose their room décor from one of four themes based on the Disney animated classics The Lion King, Cars, Finding Nemo and The Little Mermaid.

In June, Disney announced plans to build a new luxury residential resort community that will include a Four Seasons hotel with a golf course, a full-service spa facility and multiple dining options. The first phase of the project is expected to finish in 2011.

Peabody Palace
In September, the Peabody Orlando debuted its $450 million expansion, following a decade of planning and two and a half years of construction. The property now includes a sleek new 32-story tower, 1,641 guest rooms, a 22,000-square-foot spa facility and three pools. In addition, meeting space now totals 300,000 square feet, including the pillar-free, 54,652-square-foot Peabody Grand Ballroom; the 75,000-square-foot Peabody Grand Rotunda; two ballrooms spanning 34,378 square feet and 26,923 square feet, respectively; two junior ballrooms; an incredible 99 breakout rooms, and five boardrooms. A Northern California-style wine-themed restaurant called Napa and a 6,000-square-foot lounge were added to the Peabody's existing eight on-site dining options. (407) 352-4000; peabodyorlando.com

Meeting Hotels
Downtown Orlando properties include the 341-room Sheraton Orlando-Downtown, 290-room Marriott Orlando Downtown and 250-room Grand Bohemian Hotel.

Peabody OrlandoAlong International Drive and near the Orange County Convention Center are the 1,641-room Peabody Orlando; 1,500-room Rosen Shingle Creek; 1,332-room Rosen Centre Hotel; 1,100-room International Plaza Resort & Spa; 1,052-room Wyndham Orlando Resort; 1,000-room JW Marriott Grande Lakes; 1,000-room Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; 800-room Rosen Plaza Hotel; 778-room Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld Orlando; 750-room Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; 652-room Holiday Inn Orlando International Drive Resort; 650-room Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, a Loews Hotel; and 584-room Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.

Near Orlando International Airport are the 510-room Florida Hotel and Conference Center, 486-room Marriott Orlando Airport, 446-room Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport and 353-room Crowne Plaza Orlando Airport.

Disney-owned and -operated properties include the 1,921-room Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, 1,197-room Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, 877-room Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 656-room Contemporary Resort and 372-room Disney's Boardwalk Inn.

Third-party properties designated as official Disney hotels include the 1,509-room Walt Disney World Dolphin, 1,218-room Caribe Royale Orlando, 1,203-room Walt Disney World Swan, 1,014-room Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort, 814-room Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort, 394-room Royal Plaza in the Walt Disney World Resort and 229-room Doubletree Guest Suites in the Walt Disney World Resort.

In Kissimmee and Celebration are the 1,406-room Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, 730-room Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate and 240-room Mona Lisa Suite Hotel.

In Reunion is the 350-unit Reunion Resort.

Convention Center: Orange County Convention Center; exhibit space, 2.1 million square feet; number of meeting rooms, 74; (407) 685-9800 or (800) 345-9845; occc.net

Airport Transit: Orlando International Airport, about 13 miles southeast of downtown Orlando and 14 miles east of the Orange County Convention Center/International Drive. Transfer cost by taxi, $26 to downtown, $33 to the convention center/International Drive; by shuttle, $16 to downtown, $17 to the convention center/International Drive

Orlando International Airport, approximately 20 to 25 miles northeast of Walt Disney World Resort. Transfer cost by taxi, about $50 to Walt Disney World Resort. Disney's Magical Express shuttle service provides Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests with complimentary airport transfers and luggage delivery, as well as advance airline check-in for participating airlines.

Taxes: Orlando/Orange County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 6.5%; total tax on hotel rooms, 12.5%

Kissimmee/Osceola County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Walt Disney Resort properties in Osceola County: room tax, 6%; sales tax, 7%; total tax on hotel rooms, 13%

Group Venues: Disney's 220-acre Wide World of Sports Complex was renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in February. The reflagged facility includes a 271-seat restaurant, the 9,500-seat Champion Stadium (home to the Atlanta Braves' spring training), and several other venues with facilities for basketball, in-line hockey and tennis, among other competitive sports. New teambuilding options include an ESPN Poker Club Challenge, tailgate parties and sporting tournaments with cheerleaders and announcers. espnwwos.disney.go.com

Celebrity culinarian Cat Cora -- known to Food Network viewers as Iron Chef America's first female winner -- opened the 200-seat Kouzzina restaurant in 2009. Her Mediterranean-inspired fare includes slow-cooked lamb shanks, cinnamon-stewed chicken, Kouzzina smashed garlic-fried potatoes and herbed orzo for dinner, with Greek-style yogurt sorbet for dessert. wdwmagic.com/Dining/Kouzzina.htm

Golf: The Orlando/Kissimmee area offers plenty of challenging holes at scenic golf courses such as Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge (988-422-9445), Celebration Golf Club (407-566-4653), Eagle Creek Golf Club (866-324-5342), Falcon's Fire Golf Club (407-239-5445), MetroWest Golf Club (407-299-1099), Mission Inn Resort & Club (800-523-2289), Reunion Resort (407-662-1000), Ritz-Carlton Golf Club (407-393-4900) and Shingle Creek Golf Club (866-996-9933).

CVB Services: Greater Or­lando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, (407) 363-5872 or (800) 972-3304; orlandoconventions.com

Walt Disney World Resort, (321) 939-7129; disneymeetings.com