Top 10 Updates Coming to Orlando-Area Malls in 2015

In “Back to the Future II,” Marty McFly time-traveled to 2015 and found a new and improved Hill Valley in respects to the city’s infrastructure.

As the calendar reads 2015 for you and me, Orlando’s malls have a lot of new things in store for the year ahead. Here are the top 10 updates as they relate to Orlando’s mall landscape.

  1. Crayola Experience at The Florida Mall
  2. Dining Pavilion at The Florida Mall
  3. Noodles and Co. at Orlando Fashion Square
  4. Element by Westin Hotel at Orlando Fashion Square
  5. Gods & Monsters at Artegon Marketplace Orlando
  6. International Hot Glass at Artegon Marketplace Orlando
  7. Berghoff’s at Artegon Marketplace Orlando
  8. Radbourne Skatepark at Artegon Marketplace Orlando
  9. Construction on Phase II of The Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando
  10. Sky Zone Trampoline Park at Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Honorable Mentions

Crayola Experience at The Florida Mall

Anticipated Opening Date: June 2015

Gone are the days when a business could simply open a store and people would come. Competition is so fierce and the environment is so crowded that brands have to separate themselves by offering unique experiences and creating psychological connections.

The Orlando-based shopping center most known for experiential retail offerings is The Florida Mall and come summer will open the Crayola Experience in part of the space once occupied by Nordstrom.

The 70,000-square-foot attraction will require an admission ticket and offer 25 hands-on, interactive family experiences like the chance to name and wrap an authentic Crayola crayon and star in your very own coloring page. Naturally, it will host a retail store where guests can pick up unique items and souvenirs.

The Crayola Experience is expected to draw as many as 500,000 visitors to the mall.

Dining Pavilion at The Florida Mall

Anticipated Opening Date: June 2015

If you’ve had trouble finding a table in the current food court at The Florida Mall, you’ll be happy to hear the Dining Pavilion will open early summer of this year.

Found in the space once assumed by Saks Fifth Avenue, the new and expanded eatery-and-retail offering will boast 100,000 square feet and include more eateries, full-service restaurants and more than 25,000 square feet of new retail and enhanced customer amenities. We’re talking free WiFi, charging stations and lounge areas. It will also have a dedicated entrance from the parking lot.

The mall hasn’t announced the tenants as of this writing but it’s expected to be a mix of current as well as brand-new options.

Noodles and Co. at Orlando Fashion Square

Anticipated Opening Date: Early 2015

Ever since UP Development bought Orlando Fashion Square in February of 2012, change has been a constant. StrikeOuts Bowling and Entertainment opened last summer, just as Dillard’s became a clearance center and retail stores cleared out of the south side of the mall to make room for a TGI Fridays and a Westin hotel, but more on that later.

Fashion Square has also added some outparcels including a DICK’S Sporting Goods and BB&T Bank. But the newest addition will add to restaurant row on East Colonial Drive.

Noodles and Co. will open early 2015 and offer — wait for it — noodles as well as salads and sandwiches spanning flavors from Asia, the Mediterranean and America. Menu items include pad thai, spaghetti and meatballs, whole grain tuscan fresca, BBQ pork sandwich, and Wisconsin cheesesteak.

Element by Westin at Orlando Fashion Square

Major Construction Begins: 2015

Anticipated Opening Date: Summer 2016

Just as establishing itself as a family and event destination is meant to attract larger crowds, another effort to bring in more traffic to Orlando Fashion Square will take the form of an Element by Westin, a hotel that will be connected to the mall.

The idea is that business travelers will find the location more attractive versus staying in the heart of downtown what with the available shopping opportunities Fashion Square has to offer. It also has better proximity to Orlando Executive Airport which is practically in walking distance.

It is mall owners’ hope that these hotel visitors spend their disposable income on gifts as well as dine at the many surrounding restaurants including a TGI Fridays and sushi restaurant that will accompany the new hotel. Additionally, travelers are less likely to return their purchases at the mall which will help net profits.

Gods & Monsters at Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Anticipated Opening Date: 2015

Speaking of noodles (wait, what?) and new experiences, Gods & Monsters is set to open this year at Artegon Marketplace Orlando, Orlando’s newest mall. When it debuts, it will be the nation’s second largest comic book and collectibles shop and third largest in the world.

Originally set to premiere in November 2014 as part of the mall’s grand opening, delays in permitting have pushed the date for this hotly anticipated store.

So where do the noodles come in? Part of what makes Gods & Monsters so great is that it’s more than the products it sells. In fact, it’s a geek’s getaway with experiences unlike any other found on this planet. For instance, you can stuff your face on udon noodle cups at the White Dragon Noodle Bar akin to Deckard in “Blade Runner.” This is all part of The Offworld L.O.U.N.G.E. where you can also enjoy flavored iced coffees, artisan sodas and other food and beverages. You can also take in art in The Transmetropolitan Gallery.

Take it from me when I say the wait will have been well worth it.

Concept sketch of exterior facade Photo Courtesy of Gods & Monsters Facebook Page

Concept sketch of exterior facade
Photo Courtesy of Gods & Monsters Facebook Page

International Hot Glass at Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Anticipated Opening Date: Spring 2015

Another addition sure to increase the visibility of Artegon Marketplace Orlando is International Hot Glass. With glass-blowing demos, classes, do-it-yourself offerings and a retail store, this is yet another example of Artegon Marketplace’s showcase of one-of-a-kind items and experiences.

Photo Credit: International Hot Glass Facebook Page

Photo Credit: International Hot Glass Facebook Page

Berghoff’s Oktoberfest at Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Anticipated Opening Date: 2015

A Chicago icon, Berghoff’s Oktoberfest is opening its first restaurant outside of The Second City this year at Artegon Marketplace Orlando. Despite being known for its beer, the original Chicago location survived the Prohibition and was the first to receive a liquor license when it was repealed in 1933. The restaurant, which is also famous for its delectable sandwiches, has stood for more than a century to give you an idea as to its appeal.

This beer hall is sure to bring in the crowds once it opens later this year.

Radbourne Skatepark at Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Anticipated Opening Date: Late Spring 2015

Radbourne Skatepark will assume the space once occupied by the former Vans Skatepark which vacated in 2012. Thearon Scurlock, general manager of Artegon Marketplace Orlando, told the Orlando Sentinel that it’s not just a name change but rather a whole new design. In fact, it will cater to skaters and BMX enthusiasts alike.

Look for it to open by mid-2015.

Sky Zone Trampoline Park at Artegon Marketplace Orlando

Anticipated Opening Date: 2015

Those looking to get some hang time but don’t have the skating prowess can jump for joy for Sky Zone Trampoline Park set to open later this year. With 25,000 square feet of space and trampolines galore, this experience will be hard to resist.

The Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando, Phase II

Anticipated Opening Date: 2015

Finally, the last new addition to Artegon Marketplace mentioned here is the 250,000-square-foot expansion of the Village at Artegon Marketplace Orlando. Phase II will add to the total number of artisan sellers which currently stands at 165-plus.

If you’re a small business owner with an idea to set up shop, give the leasing office a ring at (407) 351-7718.

Honorable Mentions

Academy Sports + Outdoors at Waterford Lakes Town Center

Anticipated Opening Date: March 2015

This brand is new to the Central Florida area and will enter the sporting goods space once predominantly owned by The Sports Authority until DICK’S Sporting Goods entered the picture the last couple years.

It will encompass nearly 63,000 square feet and be stock full of sports, outdoor and lifestyle products for the entire family. We’re talking a broad selection of casual and athletic footwear and apparel; team sports and golf products; patio furniture; barbecue grills; and hunting, fishing and camping equipment.

Interesting to note: Academy Sports + Outdoors is a partner of UCF Athletics and Orlando City Lions Soccer Club.

DICK’S Sporting Goods at The Florida Mall

Anticipated Opening Date: June 2015

To serve as an additional anchor to the ever-expanding Florida Mall, DICK’S Sporting Goods will join the Crayola Experience in occupying the space that was vacated by Nordstrom this past August. Just like Academy Sports + Outdoors, this location will spread 63,000 square feet. It should attract active locals and tourists alike.

iSquare Mall + Hotel

Construction Begins: 2015

Anticipated Opening Date: Summer 2017

Megamall is right when describing iSquare Mall + Hotel set to open at the intersection of International Drive and Kirkman Road in 2017. It’s going to feature more than 490,000 square feet of retail space which, while only a quarter of the what The Florida Mall has, also serves as a seven-star hotel with 749 rooms and offer a 100,000-square-foot convention center, an indoor ice-skating rink, a 500-seat live performance theater and office space.

While the center isn’t set to open until 2017, groundbreaking is scheduled this year.

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Mark Schaub

My name is Mark and I’m a mall-aholic. As a native Orlandoan, I’ve been visiting them since I can remember. I’ve also worked in a couple and consider myself a self-appointed expert. There’s been a lot of change when it comes metro Orlando’s mall landscape, and I’ve taken it upon myself to chronicle it. Each mall has a story to tell, and having graduated from the University of Central Florida and double majored in journalism and radio/television, I feel I’m best equipped to make those stories come alive here at Orlando Mall Guide. So whether you’re a local or a tourist needing a shopping break from the attractions, I’m your hookup.