Top 5 Developments Coming to Orlando-Area Malls

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Living in metro Orlando, we’re fortunate to have more than a dozen fantastic shopping malls. And for those visiting from around the world, it provides a fabulous escape from the attractions.

From the luxurious Mall at Millenia to deal-minded outlets, there’s no shortage of places to spend money and go home with countless shopping bags.

But like the convention center, downtown area and airport, the mall scene continues to evolve and improve upon itself.

Central Florida Top 5 presents the top five developments coming to Orlando-area malls.

  1. Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept
  2. Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience
  3. Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley
  4. From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”
  5. I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Artegon Marketplace Orlando Introduces a New Shopping Concept

Remember Festival Bay Mall? Forget about it because Artegon Marketplace Orlando is taking over on November 20, 2014.

Paragon Outlet Partners, LLC has redeveloped the spot into a new shopping concept in the heart of Orlando tourism’s district on International Drive. Rather than host a bevy of traditional mall retailers, Artegon Marketplace Orlando boasts itself as an artisan showcase with 165 craftspeople. They’ll offer everything from eco-friendly handbags and accessories; soaps; jewelry; sculpture; mixed media artwork; custom clothing and more. That’s not to mention hand-crafted foods including popcorn, hot sauces, nuts, local honey plus other surprises.

With studies indicating that half of the American workforce will soon consist of entrepreneurs, this artisan concept doesn’t appear to be short-sighted and should enjoy a lengthier stay than its predecessor.

Gods & Monsters, American Girl and The Crayola Experience Redefine the Mall Experience

Brands want to offer more than a place to purchase goods and are creating an experience that creates a psychological connection.

Gods & Monsters is set to open at Artegon Marketplace Orlando and revolutionize the high-end comics and collectibles store with its theme park-quality decor, inspired product presentation and immersive lounge areas. It’s not just about reading your favorite comic book, but rather stepping into one.

The Florida Mall is also set to open a couple stores that introduce a new way to experience your favorite brands with American Girl and The Crayola Experience.

American Girl will open its 18th location in Orlando on November 15, 2014 and will let little girls shop for their favorite American Girl products; enjoy lunch, dinner and dessert in the Bistro; treat their doll to a new ‘do in the Doll Hair Salon; and celebrate birthdays and other special events. The days of walking into the store and pointing to your mom what doll you wanted are in the past with an experience you can see, taste and touch.

And who would’ve thought there’d be an attraction based on the popular crayon company Crayola? The Crayola Experience is set to open in summer 2015 also at The Florida Mall and features 25 hands-on experiences for families to enjoy. It will also contain a store and cafe and, like most attractions in town, require an admission fee.

Orlando Fashion Square Readies Hotel and Restaurants to Accompany Recently Opened Bowling Alley

Once upon a time, Orlando Fashion Square was the mall to be at. Increased competition stole market share and now it’s time to claim some of that back. Like Artegon Marketplace Orlando is branding itself as something different, Orlando Fashion Square is doing the same behind it’s new ownership group UP Development.

While it’s a shopping mall first and foremost, it also aims to stand for what others can’t — community. While The Mall at Millenia and The Florida Mall can boast a laundry list of brands and retailers, Orlando Fashion Square is taking the grassroots approach, luring shoppers in with community-based events and resources and surrounding them with brands they know and trust.

That’s why they’ve provided a new place for your family to hang out with StrikeOuts Bowling and Entertainment. The bowling alley is on the second floor across from the movie theater and offers 12 lanes of fun. If that wasn’t enough, get your game on in the arcade and rack up points for prizes. There’s also a sports bar area where you can enjoy the game with a brew or mix it up in a game of pool.

Oh, and the food! Enjoy a cheeseburger, fries, wings, milkshakes and sweets galore.

On the horizon, the mall is opening Element by Westin — a product of Starwood Hotels and Resorts — and breaks ground in fall 2014. The idea is that business travelers can stay at this mall’s hotel at the edge of downtown and do all their shopping all under one roof.

Orlando Fashion Square will also introduce at least two new restaurants to entice visitors.

From “Food Court” to “Dining Pavilion”

The Florida Mall continues to invest in itself and rethink how malls should operate. Saks Fifth Avenue closed in the spring and the space is being transformed into a 105,000-square-foot “Dining Pavilion.”

That means eateries in the current food court will make a move and that spot will become the home to new retailers. If you thought seating was scarce now, you’ll be happy to know the Dining Pavilion will seat twice as many and offer high-top tables and even couches.

Word is it’ll offer more options for the health-conscious.

Look for it and satisfy your hunger in 2015.

I-Drive getting a 7-star hotel and vertical “megamall”

Nothing might be more radical than the proposed “megamall” set to open on International Drive in the summer of 2017. With a name of The iSquare Mall + Hotel, it’s anything but normal.

But what exactly is a megamall?

Think Mall of America in Minnesota, which sees between 35 to 40 million people each year. That’s more visitors than Walt Disney World.

While this project isn’t on the scale of that mall (which is just plain monstrous!), iSquare Mall + Hotel’s impending impact is expected to be quite large. Combine it with the fact it will also be the first seven-star hotel in all of North America, it deserves the “mega” prefix.

It will feature 749 hotel rooms, 490,213 square feet of vertical retail space, a restaurant, a 100,000-square-foot convention center, an indoor ice-skating rink, a 500-seat live performance theater and office space. The parking garage is mega, too, at 11 stories tall and 2,780-spaces.

If that wasn’t enough for you, the building even has a heliport to park your helicopter.

mark sMark Schaub is an Orlando mall enthusiast. A self-proclaimed mallrat, he’s not there to shop, he’s not there to work, he’s just there. Mark has taken his love for malls and turned it into “Orlando Mall Guide” (www.OrlandoMallGuide.com).

Everyone always wonders what happened to the store that closed and what is being built behind that drywall. Mark tells you and goes beyond the news to explain just who are these mall-walkers and  how you can get a job at the mall. Follow on Twitter at @OMGmalls.