ORLANDO – Orlando’s hope of having the world’s tallest roller coaster is one step closer to becoming reality.
Orange County’s board of commissioners granted zoning approval Tuesday night for the $500 million Skyplex Orlando project. The unanimous vote means that developer Joshua Wallack and his family can move to the planning and construction phase on their project to build the 570-foot “Skyscraper” coaster and surrounding entertainment complex on Orlando’s International Drive.
“We couldn’t be happier with the board’s decision,” Wallack said. “Central Florida really needed a renaissance of North I-Drive. It had been decaying and shabby for the last 20 years.”
International Drive, located about 20 miles outside of downtown Orlando, is an 11-mile strip of shops, restaurants and hotels situated between Universal and SeaWorld Orlando.
“We want to build the world’s tallest rollercoaster as our anchor and, of course, Universal didn’t want us to have such a competitive ride. Hopefully they’ve sort of seen the public sentiment is for Skyplex and for the rebirth of I-Drive, for prosperity and the renaissance of this year.”
The Skyplex complex, scheduled to open in 2018, would include two other rides, a 350-room hotel, restaurants and stores. The current tallest roller coaster is the 450-foot “Kingda Ka” at New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure. It features a 418-foot drop.
Several dozen people voiced opinions about the project during Tuesday’s standing room-only public hearing. The support included residents of some of International Drive’s closest residential neighborhoods, as well as business owners who said Skyplex would help revitalize the area.